I, like the rest of the world, tuned into Sunday night’s NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants expecting a dramatic showdown. I also expected the Packers to win. Instead, the Giants crushed the Packers 38-10 to send Green Bay one game behind Chicago in the NFC North and ending a five-game winning streak.
Still, the Packers are 7-4 and, with four games left against division opponents, their destiny is in their own hands. The mission to win the North continues this week in the first of two remaining games against Minnesota.
Aaron Rodgers joined ESPN Milwaukee with Jason Wilde to discuss Green Bay’s stunning loss at New York Sunday, the pressure he faced from the Giants’ defensive front, maintaining healthy relationships with teammates, his 61-yard touchdown toss to Jordy Nelson, Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson and his new mustache.
On Sunday’s loss to the Giants not being the end of the world:
“Obviously would have liked to show up better than we did on Sunday, and we apologize to our fans for that disappointing loss, but we also encourage our fans to stick with us because we have five games left. We’re still in a good position, like I said after the game. Everything is right in front of us; we have four division games. We win out, we’ll accomplish our first goal. There’s still a lot to be excited about.”
Have you ever been a part of a blowout loss at any level?:
“At some point, as long as you play this game, there’s going to be where you’re on the opposite side. … [In] 2010, when we played the Giants, they came to us, we beat them 45-17, I think. A 28-point victory for us. It sucks. You’re going to be on both sides of this — the winning side and the losing side. There’s no fun to it — you feel it on the sidelines, it’s frustrating, you feel it on the field you’re not able to execute the way that you want to. … When I was in eighth grade I played on the Chico Jaguars and we played Oroville — it was one of our rivals — and they beat us probably, I think, 33-7.”
Do you have some concerns about your offensive line and the pressure you’re facing from defenses?:
“I think we need to make some adjustments; we can’t just drop back every time. I think we need to incorporate some of the action stuff with some sort of backfield action. Obviously we’ve got to run the ball effectively to slow them down a little bit as well, and mix in some screens and stuff. It’s tough. That’s a good front; they get after the passer really well. There were multiple times where I had a lot of time to throw and I was able to move around a little bit and make a couple plays, but there was also many times where we had some guys open and I wasn’t able to set my feet, set up a rhythm.”
Do relationships with your teammates require some degree of maintenance?:
“Maintenance is an interesting word. I’m not exactly sure what entirely that refers to, but I think in general you have to have a good pulse on how your guys are doing. I like to make it my leadership style to talk to all of the guys — all 53 of them. I like to know them by first and last name, and I think it’s important to make those guys feel important. Obviously the guys you’re throwing to, you probably have to have a little tighter relationship with. With some of the young guys, you have to be intentional about talking to them; I think it’s important to get to know a guy and kind of what he likes to do off of the field because that can say a lot about the type of person that he is, what kind of personality he has and maybe how you can best have an impact on him and lead that individual guy. With Jermichael [Finley], I think it’s been about getting on the same page and spending some time together. And I think the thing I appreciate about him over the last three or four weeks is just how he really has been a good teammate.”
Take us through the 61-yard touchdown to Jordy Nelson on the first drive Sunday:
“John [Kuhn], on that play, is coming around from the left side back to the right and he is kind of my personal protector on the play, and as I came out of the fake, Justin Tuck was high and wide — didn’t really go for the action — and John came over and made a real nice block to give me some extra time. That allowed me to look downfield and look at Jordy. He had one-on-one with Corey Webster and was able to make a nice double move. … I decided to put [the pass] a little lower and give him a chance to make a play, and Jordy came out of it great. The ball turned out to be on the money and somehow he didn’t step out of bounds, so I give Jordy a lot of credit. He ran a really nice route; wish we could have gotten him the ball more that game. That was a good start for us, but again, got to highlight John Kuhn for not only that play, but also a number of really big plays that aren’t going to get a lot of notice.”
On Adrian Peterson, who the Packers face this week:
“I have got to know him over the years. Besides his incredibly firm handshake, the one thing that I think usually sticks with you is his personality. He is a very engaging guy, and you enjoy being around him. He’s an incredible player and I give him a lot of credit for the work. Having an ACL injury myself in college, I know how difficult it’s to rehab, and he looks incredible, so I think he is playing great and wanted to recognize him.”
On the Giants going for it on fourth down late and potentially running up the score:
“I think it was the right play to do, I really do. If you’re judging by in-game etiquette, I think it was what you do. I think kicking a field goal right there is adding extra points to the board unnecessarily. Yep, I think that most people would agree with me, I really do. I think you run the ball most of the time in those situations; you go for it on fourth down. If it works, you have given the defense a chance to stop you, if you kick a field goal you’re adding, in my opinion, points without reason.”
Your mustache seems to be getting some attention:
“I hope they talk about it for the right reasons; it’s, again, to raise awareness for men’s cancer, especially prostate cancer. We do some great things in our league for breast cancer; we have a whole month dedicated to it, where we are pink and we auction off the stuff we wear — from towels to wrist bands to tape to, I don’t know, we auction everything off. … A lot of our lives, either directly or indirectly, have been linked to someone that we know that’s important to us who has had breast cancer. … This is just another opportunity to raise awareness about prostate cancer.”