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'Shock factor' will stick with Packers for a while

Disappointment still palpable as players cleaned out lockers Monday 

RB AJ Dillon
RB AJ Dillon

GREEN BAY – One of the most celebrated playoff weekends in NFL history ended in dramatic fashion on Sunday night and Eric Stokes couldn't get himself to watch.

A day after Saturday night's 13-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional playoffs, the Packers' rookie cornerback said he stayed off social media and played "Grand Theft Auto" to keep his mind off what might have been.

"I didn't even watch none of the games this weekend. Just chose not to," Stokes said. "I heard the two games last night topped it off (but) I just can't look at it. Hard to look at any of the games just knowing the type of team that we had here … just knowing what we could have done."

The top-seeded Packers had high expectations for this postseason, as they eyed a trip to the Super Bowl after back-to-back NFC Championship appearances.

For everything that happened in Saturday's loss to San Francisco, Green Bay's defense was flat-out dominant. The 49ers finished the first quarter with minus-7 yards of total offense and never reached the end zone against the Packers' defense.

San Francisco's 212 yards of total offense were the fewest Green Bay had allowed in a playoff game since Jan. 15, 2011 (at Atlanta, 194 yards). Still, the members of the defense who spoke to the media on Monday took little solace in that achievement.

Cornerback Rasul Douglas said he spent some time with safety Darnell Savage and linebacker Preston Smith on Sunday. They enjoyed each other's company in spurts before the realization their season was over flashed over them periodically.

That disappointment was still palpable Monday.

"I could just see it. We were just talking and having fun and then the minute we all stop talking, we're all kind of just like, 'Damn, we lost,'" Douglas said. "Every time my mind stops from doing everything else I'm doing and it begins to think for a few seconds on its own, it thinks about the game and what happened. I feel like we've all got a sour taste in our mouth right now because it wasn't how we wanted it to be."

An offense already struggling to find its rhythm in the second half took a hit when running back AJ Dillon sustained a fractured rib while blocking on a kickoff return in the third quarter.

Dillon, who scored Green Bay's lone touchdown on the opening drive, never had suffered a rib injury before and thought he might be able to go back in the game at first.

After testing his ribs against a few of his teammates and feeling significant pain, it was clear Dillon wasn't going to be able to return. While there isn't any long-term concern with the injury, Dillon lamented not being able to finish the game.

"It's really tough missing time always and especially in a game like that with that magnitude in a game where I feel like I could've helped make an impact," said Dillon, who led Green Bay with 803 rushing yards and five TD runs this year.

Starting center Josh Myers put himself through a lot to return for a playoff run. In addition to a broken finger that became infected earlier this year, Myers tore his medial collateral ligament in his knee and sustained a tibial plateau fracture against Chicago in Week 6.

Both injuries required surgery, with Myers having a plate and six screws put into his tibia. He was non-weight-bearing for six weeks after the surgery. He returned in the regular-season finale against Detroit and played all 56 snaps against the 49ers.

"It was a year with a lot of ups and downs, a lot of things that were unfortunate for myself," Myers said. "I learned a lot about myself this season and just how to battle back, but I think I can take those experiences and learn from them and be better in the future."

Like most of his teammates, Myers hasn't watched the film yet from the game. He likely will at some point this week, but as the Packers wrap up their 2021-22 season, the disappointment of coming up short remains fresh on Myers' mind.

"I think that shock factor might stick around for a while, to be honest with you," Myers said. "I don't think any of us, a single one of us had it in the plan. We didn't plan for this whatsoever.

"So, there's just shock, sadness, you just never know what's going to happen. You don't know who's going to be here, who's not going to be here. So, it's honestly just really sad."