GREEN BAY – For all of Matt LaFleur's accomplishments since taking over as head coach of the Packers – two division crowns and two trips to the NFC title game among them – his most impressive might be this:
Having coached 44 regular-season games in the NFL, LaFleur still has yet to lose back-to-back contests.
It's hard to overstate just how difficult that is in this ultra-competitive, gotta-bring-your-best-every-week league, and the Packers avoided consecutive defeats once again Sunday with their 36-28 triumph over the Rams at Lambeau Field.
"I mean, it's huge," All-Pro receiver Davante Adams said. "With just the injuries that we've dealt with, some of the key players that have missed a decent amount of time this year."
That list is long, and it's what makes the lack of a losing streak perhaps more impressive this season than in either of LaFleur's first two.
Plus, the Packers have had to weather that injury storm in 2021 playing 12 straight games in order to get to their bye week, which has finally arrived.
Following a tough, walk-off defeat at NFC North rival Minnesota last week that saw a comeback from two touchdowns down go for naught, if any loss could have turned into two, this was it.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was playing on a fractured pinky toe. The offensive line was making yet another adjustment, with Yosh Nijman taking over at left tackle after Elgton Jenkins' season-ending injury. The NFC-contending Rams were coming to town off their bye week and in rebound mode due to, ahem, two straight losses.
Yet the Packers continued to persevere and staved off a potential losing streak for the ninth straight time under LaFleur. His mantras of going 1-0 every week and always hitting the reset button already may have grown old in his relatively young coaching tenure, but the team has embraced them, and LaFleur deserves praise for that no matter how much he's always more interested in giving props to others.
"I think it's a credit to everybody in this building for taking that same mentality," he said. "I can't say enough about the guys just coming together, playing for one another, embracing roles …
"Our guys are truly selfless."
That's no more evident than in seeing Aaron Jones, Rashan Gary and Allen Lazard battle back from one-week absences to suit up for an important showdown with the Rams, when sitting out one more game with the bye to follow might've been the easier, more convenient approach.
But that's just not how this team is wired, and it's not the culture LaFleur has cultivated, even as conservative as the medical staff generally is regarding injuries.
"They play for one another" isn't just a throwaway line with this bunch. Neither is the way they live in the moment, as Adams sounded like his coach at the postgame podium talking about the nonstop weekly challenges and how "right now" is all they know about where they stand.
Lambeau Field hosted a Week 12 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021.
Yes, the Packers feel good about being 9-3. They know they're in the hunt. They might get some injured players back, and whether or not they do, they know they haven't peaked yet.
"We've got a bye to kind of get ready to go into the playoffs in a minute," Adams said. "We're not looking too far ahead, but (with) the schedule against us, the injuries against us … to be a resilient group and make plays says a lot about who we are."
They're a team that somehow doesn't lose twice in a row when it happens to pretty much everybody at some point. It's an achievement that continues to impress and has served them well, with another stretch run on the horizon.
It's a credit to leadership, starting with LaFleur and trickling down through the accomplished veterans in the locker room. They get it, and it's the biggest reason this team doesn't stay down for long.
"You've got to prove it every week in this league," Adams said. "The teams that don't believe that, they get humbled quick. We've just got to make sure we stay locked in, in tune with one another, continue to communicate, and just keep growing."