- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Scott Tolzien made too many mistakes in his first NFL start.
And the Green Bay Packers’ third-string quarterback accepted responsibility for all of them.
Tolzien, who finished 24-of-34 passing, threw three interceptions in Green Bay’s 27-13 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
“Three turnovers, that’s the bottom line. Those are killers,” Tolzien said. “The guys work too hard, and that’s on me completely.”
The 26-year-old, who went undrafted in 2011 after playing his college ball at Wisconsin, made the start because superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) and his backup, Seneca Wallace (season-ending groin injury), are both hurt. Tolzien came in in relief of Wallace last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and threw two interceptions in his NFL debut.
“I think you can’t look past all of the positive things he did, but at the same time, we have to be real honest about it,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “He knows it. Everyone knows it. Five interceptions in two games is something that will be addressed.”
Tolzien’s second interception Sunday afternoon proved to be the backbreaker. With 10:49 left in the fourth quarter and the Packers trailing 20-13, Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul jumped, caught Tolzien’s pass intended for wide receiver Andrew Quarless at the line of scrimmage, and easily took it in for a touchdown.
“He jumped up and made a nice play, a game-changer,” Tolzien said. “When I evaluate myself on that one, you see the arms up in the air, you can’t throw it.”
“I didn’t see him, but as a quarterback, if you don’t see him, you can’t make the throw,” Tolzien said. “It’s as simple as that.”
The Packers (5-5), who have not lost three in a row since Rodgers’ first year as a starter (2008), tried to establish their running game early in order to set Tolzien up in third down-and-short situations. But they could never get it going.
Eddie Lacy, who led the NFL in rushing the previous five weeks, was held to just 27 yards on 14 carries. He did score a touchdown.
“We knew it was gonna be tough going into it, they were going to have a lot of people in the box, but we tried the best we could,” Lacy said. “We went out there and played hard for 60 minutes, but it just didn’t work out well.”
When he had time, Tolzien was able to make plays. He connected with top target Jordy Nelson eight times for 117 yards, and hit Boykin six times for 91 yards.
But when it came down to it, Tolzien was obviously no Rodgers.
Asked if he expects to start next week, Tolzien said, “That’s the coach’s decision. I’m going to just get better. That’s where I stand right now, evaluate myself and improve as a quarterback. A lot of learning from this game and learn from it and keep getting better every day. That’s simple, but that’s the plan.”
Tolzien was the third different Packers’ starting quarterback in the past 13 days. Before this stretch, Green Bay only had three different starters in the past 21 years.
Rodgers is pushing to return before Thanksgiving. And, with their season slipping away, the Packers desperately need him back.