GREEN BAY, Wis. — It may have taken Aaron Rodgers almost two months, but he found some good in the Green Bay Packers’ 37-8 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12.
“We had that one really good touchdown drive,” Rodgers said Wednesday with a smile.
Remember, though, it was the Packers quarterback who after that game said: “I still like our chances. I think we have the makeup to bounce back from these kind of things and put ourselves in a position to potentially come back here and play again.”
And here are Rodgers and the Packers in the midst of their preparation for the rematch in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. They’re 7.5-point underdogs.
“You realize playing against them how good they are,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “At the time they had a two-game lead after that game plus obviously the tiebreaker. Just calculating things in my head, I thought if we got to the playoffs and made a run we’d probably have to beat them at their place at some point. Sure enough, we’re back in a situation where we have to do it to get to the Super Bowl.”
They know they will need a better game plan and better execution.
To the first part, first-year coach Matt LaFleur said Monday that he would “go back and watch that tape again to really try to grasp what happened and why it happened and how can we adjust and what are we going to do to ensure it doesn’t happen [again].”
Receiver Davante Adams, who was held to just 43 yards on seven catches in the first meeting, said he likes what he’s seen of this week’s plan.
“Obviously if we left the game with eight points and lost by 20s or whatever it was, obviously the plan wasn’t good enough,” Adams said. “That’s not a knock on Matt or anybody. The execution obviously wasn’t good enough, too, so those go hand in hand, though. The plan, so far what I’ve seen, I really like, and I think it’s a better way to attack this defense.”
Among the differences for the Packers should be the return of right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who left the first meeting with the 49ers after nine plays because of a knee injury and then missed Sunday’s playoff game against the Seahawks because of an illness.
But the Packers appear to be relishing the underdog role.
“They’re obviously expected to hold court and win,” Rodgers said. “People know and they’re talking about how we played the last time so I think if they look at pressure, the pressure is in a certain place and we should be nice and loose.”
On Sunday, outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith lifted up his jersey after a sack against the Seahawks to reveal an undershirt with the word “SNUBBED” printed on it. Smith, who led the Packers in sacks (13.5) and added two more against Seattle, was not selected for either All-Pro or the Pro Bowl.
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Whatever the reason the Packers might be overlooked, both as a team or as individuals, doesn’t matter to Rodgers. Nor do individual accolades at this point in the season and this point in his career as he seeks a second Super Bowl.
“I’m the wrong guy to ask when it comes to that because I don’t pay a lot of attention to the outside stuff,” Rodgers said. “I do know that there has been some incredible performances by our guys and maybe they haven’t gotten the recognition they deserve.
“I hope we all remember why we’re doing this, though — it’s to win championships. When you win championships, everybody wins. As someone who has won some of those individual awards, I’d definitely trade those for a couple more rings.”