GREEN BAY – Brett Hundley hasn’t made excuses in any of his eight starts at quarterback, so he wasn’t about to begin on Saturday night.
But trying to rally against the NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings with the hand he was dealt – down two starters on the offensive line and without his top two receivers, his top tight end and one of his top two running backs – makes for a fight he can’t be expected to win.
Even if he doesn’t want to hear it.
“It’s hard. It obviously limits the offense,” Hundley said of the injuries, which left him without Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson, Richard Rodgers and Aaron Jones to attack one of the league’s best defenses. “But at the same time, like I said, this game is about winning.
“Nobody’s going to look at who was on the field. Nobody’s going to care. Nobody is going to look at who was in, who wasn’t in. They’re going to look at the final score. That’s all that matters.”
The 16-0 loss at Lambeau Field was another lesson in the cruel reality of the NFL.
Yes, Hundley’s sluggish start contributed to falling behind by 10 points entering the second quarter, and his red-zone interception shortly before halftime was a killer mistake. There’s no way around that.
He also made his share of plays, and throws, to get his team back in the game. Yet, as he said, nobody is going to care.
He has to own an unsightly 30.2 passer rating that had several chances to be better. The dropped passes were as frequent as the injuries, and then a couple of early deep shots that were close gave way to later long throws that were far off-target.
Hundley didn’t throw any teammates under the bus, only saying, repeatedly, how they “battled their butts off” on a frigid night. He gets it, because he can only look at what he can do better, and if he starts the game sharper, then maybe this, that, and the other go better later on.
But everyone has to own this one.
“I’ve never felt more defeated, more embarrassed by a performance,” said receiver Randall Cobb, and he actually didn’t drop a pass.
In the discussion of Hundley, this forever will be paired with the Baltimore shutout from five weeks ago, but his outing then versus now compares only statistically. Against the Ravens, the Packers looked close to helpless at times. Against the Vikings, they simply didn’t help themselves.
The Packers got a look at a potential future contributor in the passing game in undrafted rookie receiver Michael Clark, and rookie running back Jamaal Williams keeps gaining the tough yards on the ground.
On the defensive side, lineman Kenny Clark continued his impressive ascent, while pass rusher Reggie Gilbert flashed some pressure and undrafted rookie corner Lenzy Pipkins made a couple of plays.
The Packers could have hung their hat on so much more, though. Maybe it wouldn’t have been enough to beat the playoff-bound Vikings anyway, because if there’d been a crunch time, Minnesota had so much more at stake.
But it sure would have been interesting to find out. Instead, another frustrating loss was just tacked on to a frustrating season.
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