ORCHARD PARK, NY—Aaron Rodgers admittedly had an off day, and the Packers fell to the Buffalo Bills, 21-13, in a game that could put a dent in the team’s postseason plans.
“Obviously, today was well short of the mark. I have to play better for us to win,” Rodgers told reporters following the loss at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Rodgers completed just 17 of 42 passes for 185 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and a 34.3 passer rating in one of the worst statistical performances of his great career.
How did the Bills defense do it?
“They were very physical with our receivers downfield,” Rodgers said. He would repeat that theme in answering similar questions, and it was easy to understand Rodgers felt Buffalo’s defensive backs were permitted to be overly physical.
The Bills secondary played aggressive, press defense on the Packers’ wide receivers.
“Not more than we expected. They were physical with our receivers and got away with more than we expected,” Rodgers said.
The game came down to one final drive, which began at the Packers’ 10-yard line with 1:58 to play in the game, trailing 19-13. The stage was set for a dramatic conclusion, but the drama belonged to the Bills when defensive end Mario Williams stripped Rodgers of the ball, resulting in a safety.
“That last fumble is my fault, based on the protection called,” Coach Mike McCarthy said.
JC Tretter had replaced Bryan Bulaga (concussion) at right tackle and McCarthy regretted not giving Tretter help in blocking Williams. Rodgers disagreed with his coach.
“We had Randall (Cobb) open for a first down. I like the call,” Rodgers said.
“I don’t think it’s all about Aaron’s performance,” McCarthy said, but admitted, “That’s not the kind of numbers we’re used to producing.”
The most important number is the Packers’ record, 10-4. The Packers were awaiting a final score on the Vikings-Lions game. Just as importantly, the loss could force the Packers to play on the road in the postseason, possibly having to go to Seattle.
“They made more big plays than we did. So, this is where we are. Everything we want to accomplish is in front of us,” McCarthy said.
One of the biggest plays of the game was a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown by the Bills’ Marcus Thigpen. It gave the Bills a 7-3 lead. Packers kicker Mason Crosby also had a field goal attempt blocked, which is becoming a troubling theme for Packers special teams.
“Ball placement wasn’t 100 percent today,” McCarthy said of Tim Masthay’s punting. The punt that was returned for a touchdown was down the middle of the field.
The weather was cold and wet, but certainly not challenging by Green Bay and Buffalo standards.
“I thought the weather was great. You do cartwheels for a day like this,” McCarthy said.
The big problem was the standard Rodgers had created. The Packers had come to depend on it for victory.
COMPLETE GAME COVERAGE