For the first time in Aaron Rodgers‘ illustrious career, he and the Green Bay Packers hosted the NFC championship game. The Packers were unable to shine in the moment, with Tom Brady guiding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl. Following the game, Rodgers appears to have subtly thrown head coach Matt LaFleur under the bus.
Packers fall short to Buccaneers in NFC championship game
With the opportunity to secure their first Super Bowl berth in a decade, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers fell short against the Buccaneers.
Green Bay fell behind in the early goings, with Tom Brady guiding Tampa Bay to a 21-10 halftime lead behind a pair of touchdown passes. However, Rodgers and the Packers marched back in the second half due to Brady throwing three interceptions.
Rodgers threw two touchdowns in the third quarter to close the gap to five points. However, the Packers failed to erase the deficit after struggling to string together a touchdown drive on their last possession. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers sealed the deal with a pair of first downs.
Following the game, Rodgers made some intriguing subtle comments that may have thrown head coach Matt LaFleur under the bus.
Aaron Rodgers just threw Matt LaFleur under the bus
Following the crushing defeat in the NFC championship game, the focus around the Packers concerned questionable late-game decision-making.
The bulk of that conversation concerns head coach Matt LaFleur’s decision to kick a field goal on fourth and goal while being down by eight points with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter. During his postgame press conference, Aaron Rodgers voiced that the decision to kick a field goal wasn’t his but understood it.
“I didn’t have a decision on that one,” Rodgers said. “That wasn’t my decision. But understand the decision and thinking with all of our timeouts. But it wasn’t my decision.”
Rodgers may have voiced an understanding of the situation, but it wasn’t one that he wanted to shoulder the blame for the call. All that subtly goes to LaFleur with the final decision on the play.
Although it didn’t put the nail in the coffin for the Packers, it certainly took away an opportunity to possibly score a touchdown and subsequently attempt a two-point conversion to tie the game. It’s a call that will forever be scrutinized in Green Bay, especially over the upcoming offseason.
Given that it occurred at that stage of the playoffs will only garner more criticism over the coming weeks and months. Yes, the Packers still had three timeouts in their pocket and needed one stop to get the ball back. However, it will always be overshadowed by kicking a field goal instead of going for a potentially game-tying touchdown.
Uncertain future ahead in Green Bay?
Beyond the immediate disappointment of losing the NFC championship game, the Packers are moving into uncertain territory.
Aaron Rodgers demonstrated that he has plenty left in the tank to play at an elite level after an MVP-caliber campaign. Rodgers may have voiced some uncertainty concerning his future in the postgame press conference, but it’s hard to imagine the Packers will move off him.
Rodgers has guided the franchise to back-to-back NFC championship game appearances, including three games on that stage in the last five years. The 37-year-old does have an intriguing contract standing in the final two years of his four-year, $134 million deal.
He holds a $17.2 million dead cap hit for 2021, and that number drops to roughly $2.8 million in 2022. The Packers will likely move forward with Rodgers for at least next season before things get a bit grainy.
Nonetheless, Green Bay will have many questions to answer after yet another disheartening playoff exit.