Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) and
teammates sit on the bench during the closing minutes of an
NFL football game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in
Detroit on Thursday.
GREEN BAY - Still
trying to make sense of one of the toughest losses in his
successful tenure as Green Bay Packers coach, Mike McCarthy made
it clear what his struggling team must accomplish.
morning, a day after the Packers were embarrassed 40-10 by the
Detroit Lions, McCarthy feels the Packers must win their remaining
think so, yes," McCarthy said.
Even that might
not be enough to get the two-time NFC North champions back in the
playoffs. Winless in its last five games (0-4-1), Green Bay is in
a big bind going into the final month of the regular season. The
Packers have tumbled from the top of the division to third place
with a 5-6-1 record.
Not only is Green
Bay trailing NFC North leader Detroit (7-5) by 1½ games, the
Packers have never reached the playoffs with a sub-.500 record
after 12 games since the NFL expanded the schedule to 16 games in
downplay the predicament facing his team.
in a hole," he said. "We felt like we were in the hole
going into the Detroit game. We've got two division losses and a
tie. That's not where you want to be."
The Packers are
in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2008,
when they had a five-game losing skid late in the season and
finished 6-10. That was Aaron Rodgers' first year as the team's
leader on offense.
hard to get any lower than right now after a terrible loss on
national television, but we have to keep going," linebacker
Clay Matthews said after Thursday's game. "We still have four
games left — a whole quarter of the season. We've got to finish
strong. We'll take some time to reflect on this loss and get away
for a few days and come back and have an Atlanta team at
Green Bay doesn't
play again until it hosts the last-place Falcons on Dec. 8, but
McCarthy isn't sure if Rodgers will resume playing then. The star
quarterback has missed the last four games because of a broken
cleared to practice on a limited basis earlier this week and did
some throwing on the field Tuesday and Wednesday.
When asked Friday
whether Rodgers has a chance to play against Atlanta, McCarthy
replied, "I don't know that."
"I just know
when we came off the field Wednesday that he wasn't ready to play
yet," McCarthy added. "So, we'll see how the testing
goes. But it needs to be the right thing. I know he wants to play,
I know he's trying to gear up each and every week to play, but
we'll see what happens next week."
Feeling the sting
of the Packers' most lopsided loss since they fell 35-0 at home
against New England in McCarthy's first season as coach in 2006,
at least one frustrated player commented on how much Rodgers has
Green Bay didn't
have a victory in its five November games after Rodgers went out
after the first series of the loss to Chicago on Nov. 4. The last
time the Packers were winless in a full month of games was
December 1990, when they went 0-5.
definitely made things a lot more difficult without Aaron,"
left guard Josh Sitton said Thursday. "I think we all know
that. There's no denying that. You can't say, 'Hey, we can go and
play just as good without Aaron.' We haven't won a game without
him in five weeks. He's the best player on this team. Yeah, we
need him, but there's a lot more going on than just that."
Indeed, the Lions
exposed the shortcomings for an injury-depleted Green Bay team in
"It was a
very convincing win by the Lions," McCarthy said.
reflected the one-sided outcome.
the Packers 561-126 in total yards and had possession of the ball
for more than twice as long: 40 minutes, 26 seconds to the
The Lions also
gashed Green Bay for 241 yards rushing four days after the Packers
allowed a then-season-high 232 yards on the ground in their
overtime tie against Minnesota.
accomplished all that despite turning over the ball four times.
The Lions scored 37 unanswered points after a strip-sack by Nick
Perry resulted in a short touchdown return by Morgan Burnett that
put the Packers up 10-3 early in the second quarter.
McCarthy noted an
estimated 20 missed tackles by Green Bay's defense and coverage
units on special teams.
above 10 missed tackles in a game, that's a long day,"
offense certainly added to the Packers' holiday misery. Led by
their formidable front line, the Lions sacked Matt Flynn seven
times and held Green Bay to a season-low 24 yards rushing.
Flynn, the fourth
starter at quarterback for Green Bay in the last five games, also
had three turnovers.
drilled by a very good football team that played very well,"
McCarthy said. "So we'll take that hard lesson, swallow,
they'll be accountable for it, and we'll be ready to go when
Atlanta comes in here."