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Bottoming out became true reset for Packers and QB Aaron Rodgers

Now one win must lead to another

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY – The NFL can be a funny game sometimes.

As in, had the Packers not suffered their most frustrating loss of the season last week at (then) one-win Detroit, would they have found the guts and gumption to battle back from 14 points down in the fourth quarter against six-win Dallas on Sunday at Lambeau Field?

Maybe, maybe not.

But specifically for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, something about hitting the lowest of lows – throwing three interceptions last week for the first time in five years, in that forgettable short-lived return from his second broken collarbone – allowed him to reboot, mentally as much as anything.

Whether or not a pregame meeting with former coach Mike McCarthy helped in that regard is difficult to say. The two connected at an arranged time, away from TV cameras, for what Rodgers called "a really beautiful conversation" that was "really, really meaningful I think for both of us."

Factor or not, the rebound had the four-time MVP looking a lot more like his old self once again in generating the comeback and overtime triumph.

"Last week was definitely a low, rock-bottomish for sure," Rodgers said. "Not in a depressive, isolationism way but more disappointment. And I felt like that was the bottom and it was only up from there.

"I think a lot of the battles that we face are between I and I, between the person that can go out there and dominate and knows that they can, and the little voice in your head that tries to knock you out of that confident perch around you.

"I'm happy that I knocked that voice back into hell and had a good performance today."

That manifested itself in a season-best 146.7 passer rating (14-of-20, 224 yards, three TDs), his highest in nearly a calendar year. Rushing for more than 200 yards for the second time in three games is "definitely a formula that can work for us," Rodgers said, and it certainly worked for him in this one.

He also credited his teammates for their own reset, not only during the past week but during the game, after a promising first half and early defensive stop in the second half felt suddenly for naught.

Punt returner Amari Rodgers' fumble sparked two Dallas touchdowns less than 4½ minutes apart, and the Packers, at 3-6, were staring at a 28-14 deficit with a quarter to go.

Without an answer, the season was all but mathematically over. But a team that has been grinding and grinding without results stuck to the grind and finally found some.

Nine plays, 76 yards, touchdown on fourth-and-7. Defensive stop in Dallas territory. Ten plays, 89 yards, touchdown. Tie game.

"That was a turning point for us, hopefully a turning point that leads us to go on a streak," Rodgers said. "But that was a chance for guys to (go), 'Ah, it's not our season, 3-7, what are we doing in the offseason, it's not gonna be our year.'"

But the team didn't think like that. Rodgers said he felt all week a win was coming, somehow, some way. Belief isn't everything, but without it, a team's got nothing.

"It just felt like energetically something was gonna go our way," he said, "and we stuck together in the fourth."

See scenes from the Sunday afternoon matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field on Nov. 13, 2022.

How improbable was this comeback? The Dallas Cowboys had never lost a game in their franchise's history when leading by at least 14 points after three quarters. They were 195-0, including playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

That, plus rookie receiver Christian Watson getting not just his first NFL touchdown, but his first three, and the Packers ending a five-game losing streak and scoring more than 27 points for the first time all season …

"There were a lot of things we turned around today," Rodgers said.

If the entire season turns around, this game will have served as the pivot point. But as quickly as things can change, the Packers could be right back on the brink if they don't convert this fourth win into their fifth in a few days. Another six-win squad in Tennessee is on its way.

"You hope it propels you and gives you some confidence, because I do think it's tough anytime you go through a stretch like that," Matt LaFleur said. "It's hard to shut out the negativity. You just can't let that filter in and affect what you believe.

"But it is only one win."

One win that has provided hope, and validated the belief.


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