Aaron Rodgers wants to keep playing through his growing list of injuries as long as the struggling Green Bay Packers still have a mathematical chance of reaching the playoffs.
The Packers’ postseason hopes remain alive, if only in the technical sense, after a 40-33 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday dropped their record to 4-8. Rodgers, already playing with a broken right thumb, left with injured ribs in the second half.
“I know he’s feeling better today,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said Monday. “I think we’ll know more in the next couple of days.”
LaFleur said the Packers planned to continue relying on Rodgers if the four-time MVP is healthy enough to play.
“Aaron’s the starting quarterback,” LaFleur said. “He’s battled through a lot throughout the course of his career. It’s pretty well documented and I think he’s been able to play at a pretty high level through a lot of different situations. So again, we’ll take it one game at a time and make the best decision moving forward.”
Rodgers emphasized after the game he wants to keep playing as long as there’s any chance the Packers could still reach the postseason.
Philadelphia made the playoffs with a 9-8 record last season, so there’s the possibility a late surge could get the Packers back in contention. But it’s hard to imagine that kind of late run for a team that has dropped seven of its last eight games.
“There are obviously a lot of other conversations that come into play once you’re eliminated, and I’ll be open to all of those conversations,” Rodgers said after the game. “Pride comes to mind. Love of the game. But there’s other factors obviously that would come into play should we be mathematically eliminated.”
One of those factors is the chance for the Packers to get a closer look at 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love, who has made just one career start.
Love took over for the injured Rodgers and looked better than he had in any of his other sporadic appearances, going 6 of 9 for 113 yards and finding Christian Watson for a 63-yard touchdown.
“I felt a lot more prepared,” Love said after the game. “Like I say, it just comes down to reps, getting those reps and being comfortable executing those plays. So like I said, the more reps I can get, the more I can get in those situations, the more comfortable I’ll be.”
The Packers gained over 5 yards per carry. ... Keisean Nixon had two kickoff returns of over 50 yards and finished with five returns for 172 yards.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
Green Bay’s porous run defense hit bottom Sunday as Philadelphia rushed for 363 yards, the second-highest total in Eagles history and the most the Packers had allowed in a game since 1977, according to ESPN Stats & Info. LaFleur said the Packers had over 20 missed tackles and called it “by far our worst tackling performance that I’ve seen here. The Packers are allowing 154.8 yards rushing per game to rank 31st out of 32 NFL teams, ahead of only Houston. They’re giving up 5 yards per carry to rank 29th.
Watson caught four passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. The rookie second-round pick from North Dakota State has six touchdown catches over his last three games. ... LB Justin Hollins recorded a sack in his first game for the Packers, who claimed him off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams. ... After gaining just 23 yards from scrimmage in a loss to Tennessee a week earlier, RB A.J. Dillon bounced back with eight carries for 64 yards and a touchdown plus three catches for 24 yards.
S Darnell Savage was replaced in the starting lineup by Rudy Ford and eventually left with a foot injury. This marked the first non-starting appearance in the 2019 first-round pick’s 58-game career. ... CB Rasul Douglas appeared to get beaten on each of Jalen Hurts’ two touchdown passes. ... Green Bay’s continued struggles to slow down rushing attacks will put even more heat on defensive coordinator Joe Barry, particularly since the Packers believed during the offseason they could have one of the best defenses in the league. ... WR Sammy Watkins played just four offensive snaps and wasn’t targeted, the second straight game in which he didn’t catch a pass.
Other than the injuries to Rodgers and Savage, LB De’Vondre Campbell (knee) missed a fourth straight game and WR Romeo Doubs (ankle) sat out a third consecutive game.
2006 – The last time the Packers had a record as bad as 4-8 through their first 12 games of a season. That 2006 Packers squad won its last four games to finish 8-8, though it missed the playoffs.
The Packers head to Chicago (3-9) seeking to beat the Bears for an eighth consecutive time.
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Steve Megargee, The Associated Press