E Point Perfect

Packers Suffer Cataclysmic Ending to 2022


Jan 8, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

Left for dead after Thanksgiving, the Green Bay Packers marinated with a 4-8 record, while members of the team insisted the club could “go on a run” and wiggle into the postseason.

They almost made the slogan true.

The Packers won four straight, toppling the Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, and Minnesota Vikings, and reached Week 18 with a 61% probability to reach the playoffs — against all odds. All they had to do was beat the Detroit Lions, a team utterly dominated by the Packers for decades.

Packers Suffer Cataclysmic Ending to 2022

For context, the Packers — kings of primetime football — had to defeat the previously pipsqueak Lions, and the “run the table” mantra would’ve been wholly actionized. Green Bay could’ve punched a ticket to Santa Clara next weekend for a Wildcard date with the San Francisco 49ers.

Packers Suffer Cataclysmic
Jan 8, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) and wide receiver Randall Cobb. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

But they couldn’t get it done, cataclysmically losing to the Lions 20-16 at Lambeau Field. The Lions were scrappier, tougher, more opportunistic, and stuffed to the gills with pride. About 20 minutes before the game began, Detroit was eliminated from postseason contention because the Seattle Seahawks took care of business over the disappointing Rams.

It didn’t matter.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell prepared his team to play precisely like they were playing to get in the January dance. It was remarkable.

Aaron Rodgers’ usual theatrics simply didn’t arrive. Green Bay had a vintage chance to drive down the field and survive the Lions — and get in the postseason — but Rodgers delivered an uncharacteristic interception. Well, such picks were unusual from 2008 to 2021 but not necessarily in 2022, an underwhelming season by Rodgers’ lofty standards.

Aaron Rodgers Noticed t
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

So, that’s a wrap on the Packers season and perhaps Rodgers’ career. He was predictably noncommittal about his future after the game, claiming he didn’t want raw emotion to dictate the retire vs. keep playing decision.

Don’t get twisted — Green Bay deserved to lose. It wasn’t hosed by referees. “Game of inches” didn’t really apply in the win-or-go-home contest. The Packers were 4 for 12 on 3rd Down, lost the turnover battle by two, and couldn’t finish drives with touchdowns. The performance was unbecoming of Rodgers’ typical MVP level — probably because he’s 39 years old and subtly on the decline.

Don't Get Tricked about the Lions Defense
Nov 24, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports.

Campbell deserves the credit — all of it. His team should’ve been unmotivated or at least heartbroken by Seattle’s win. They emphatically were not. Rodgers took over the Packers in 2008, and Green Bay held a 19-10 (.630) record over Detroit from that point. Moreover, from 2008 to 2021, the Lions were 3-11 (.214) at Lambeau Field. Rodgers loves to say “he owns the Bears,” but he owned the Lions, too, before Sunday, anyway.

Campbell may have redefined the Packers-Lions rivalry, as Green Bay now has premature next steps to evaluate the 2022 campaign and prepare for 2023 — with or without a future Hall of Fame quarterback.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).


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