Atypical showing by Rodgers on, off field
September, 22, 2013
By Rob Demovsky | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Tom UhlmanIt was a rare game of miscues for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in a 34-30 loss to the Bengals.
CINCINNATI -- This was not what anyone is used to seeing from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- on the field or on the sidelines.
Rodgers had his first multiple-interception, regular-season game in nearly three years, didn’t finish drives in the red zone and got into a sideline spat with coach Mike McCarthy midway through the second quarter of Sunday’s 34-30 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
And to top it off, Rodgers will get saddled with another close loss in which he couldn’t deliver a game-winning, fourth-quarter drive.
“I was frustrated because I didn’t play very well,” said Rodgers, who completed 26-of-43 passes for 244 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. “I’m competitive and expect to play well every week and this week, it didn’t happen.”
On a day when the Packers’ defense forced four turnovers, including a Clay Matthews-forced fumble that safety M.D. Jennings returned 24 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, the Packers’ offense converted just two out of the four trips inside the red zone into touchdowns.
It was after one of those failed red-zone drives that Rodgers became visibly frustrated with McCarthy.
“We’re both passionate about the game and competitive,” Rodgers said. “We want to win very badly. I went over and talked to him after that and just got on the same page. We needed to talk and we did, and we moved on.”
The incident occurred after Matthews’ second forced fumble of the day gave the Packers the ball at the Bengals’ 21-yard line. Rodgers appeared to be unhappy with at least one play call from McCarthy during that series. Then, after a third-and-goal play from the 3-yard line broke down and Rodgers came up short on a scramble, Rodgers and McCarthy had an intense exchange while Mason Crosby kicked a 19-yard field goal with 6:32 left in the first half.
“I think we were both frustrated all day that we couldn’t have a lot of success in the red zone and kicked way too many field goals and turned the ball over,” Rodgers said.
Television camera caught the exchange between Rodgers and McCarthy.
“I think any time you get into a situation where there’s a change in rhythm and personnel and play calls, things like that, it’s frustrating,” McCarthy said. “I had called a certain play in a certain situation, and he was frustrated by it. I feel good. One [disagreement] every three weeks would be awesome.”
Added McCarthy: “He’s competitive, man. That’s what I love about him. I didn’t really think it was that big of a deal, frankly.”
Defensive tackle B.J. Raji quickly went over to Rodgers in an apparent effort to calm him down.
“That’s a family issue; I’m not going to really touch on that,” Raji said. “Sometimes within a family things happen, and it’s all taken care of. When you’ve got a competitor like that in a situation that we were in, sometimes things happen, but we’re fine.”
It was Rodgers’ first regular-season game with two interceptions since Week 7 of the 2010 season at Minnesota. He also threw two later that year in the NFC championship game at Chicago. Receiver James Jones took responsibility for the first interception, saying he failed to run his slant route properly and allowed cornerback Terence Newman to step in front of him on a late third-quarter pass. Rodgers' second interception came on the very next series.
Rodgers, whose record as a starter dropped to 5-17 in games decided by four points or less, also had three passes batted down at the line of scrimmage on the final drive, including his last pass on fourth-and-5 from the Bengals’ 20-yard line with 1:25 remaining. On that final play, left tackle David Bakhtiari’s attempt to cut block defensive end Carlos Dunlap failed, and Dunlap swatted the ball away to end the Packers’ chances.
Before Sunday, Rodgers had only one game in the last five seasons with three passes batted down, according to ESPN Stats & Information.