LONDON — Aaron Rodgers heard the talk even before someone relayed what Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander said in the locker room after Sunday’s upset loss to the New York Giants.
And he didn’t like.
Alexander, the Pro Bowl cornerback, said he wasn’t worried about the defense despite its role in the second-half meltdown that led to Green Bay’s 27-22 loss in front of a pro-Packers crowd at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. At least not yet.
“I ain’t worried, but if we lose next week, then I’ll be worried,” Alexander said, referring to next Sunday’s game against the New York Jets at Lambeau Field. “But it’s a new situation for everybody. New circumstances, sleep patterns. It’s a whole adjustment here in London.”
Rodgers, who publicly embraced the overseas trip all week, didn’t like that message. And he wasn’t just singling out Alexander; he heard it from others, too.
“Frankly, I don’t like all this conversation about losing next week,” Rodgers said. “I’m a firm believer in the power of words and manifestation. And we’ve got to check ourselves on that, because talking about that is not winning football. There was conversation about it in the locker room, and I don’t like it. Ja’s my guy, but we don’t need to be talking like that.”
The Packers almost certainly will be a heavy favorite against the Jets, but that was the case against the Giants, too. They lost as an 9-point favorite, making it the biggest upset in the NFL to date this season and the Packers’ worst loss since Week 13 of 2008, when they lost to the Cardinals as a 13.5-point favorite and coach Mike McCarthy was fired afterward.
The Packers’ performance spoiled what had been a festive week for the team in its first international game. They were the last NFL team that had not played outside of the country. They jumped out to a 17-3 lead and still led 20-10 at halftime thanks to an effective run game and some precise short passes.
The second half turned because:
• They tried to throw deep. Rodgers averaged just 3.5 air yards in the first half and had a 75% completion rate and two touchdowns doing so, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He averaged 12.1 air yards per attempt in the second half and completed just 47% without a touchdown. He was 0-for-5 on passes that traveled 20 or more yards in the air, including 0-for-4 in the second half.
Randall Cobb (seven catches for 99 yards) said they’re just slightly off on deep balls. But Rogers was asked whether the Packers — with Davante Adams traded and Marquez Valdes-Scantling leaving in free agency — aren’t built to go deep and might need to stick with the run longer.
“You make a good point,” Rodgers said. “It’s something to think about.”
• In a last-ditch effort to tie the game, Rodgers had two passes batted down on consecutive plays — third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 from the Giants’ 6-yard line. He had just one batted down previously this season.
“We had a run-pass option on, and they loaded the box and went Cover 0, and we figured that’s what they were going to do,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “Unfortunately, had two batted passes.”
• They let Giants quarterback Daniel Jones complete 13 of 14 passes in the second half for 136 of his 217 passing yards. He also had eight of his nine rushes (for 34 of his 37 yards) in the second half. The Packers had seven penalties, three of them by cornerback Rasul Douglas. Two of them wiped out sacks, and one of them a miffed Douglas said the official called because he told him, “You’re bigger than him.”
“I just told everybody, ‘My fault,'” Douglas said. “I had three uncharacteristic f—ing penalties that I don’t usually get, but I had them. I think that f—ed the whole defense up.”
It all added up to a loss that dropped the Packers to 3-2 before a long flight home.
“That’s what happens in this league when you don’t come ready to play,” LaFleur said. “Not that we didn’t come ready to play, but they obviously outexecuted us in the second half. Like I told our team, it’s just disappointing, but we can’t let one loss compound into another.”
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