The Green Bay Packers went to bed Sunday night with a 7-2 record through the first nine games of the NFL season, but easily could have gone the other way. After losing to the 1-win Vikings at home two weeks ago, the Packers were facing a 1-win Jacksonville Jaguar team that had the Packers on the ropes until the very end. The defense got a late stop and the Packers prevailed 24-20.
The Jaguars had the ball at the Packers’ 36 yard line with 1:37 to play with a chance to score a go-ahead touchdown. This time, the Packers suspect defense clamped down and came up with a huge stop to preserve the victory. Rashon Gary and Preston Smith came up with key sacks on that final drive to end Jacksonville’s comeback efforts, sending the Jaguars (1-8) home with their eighth straight loss.
Aaron Rodgers passed for 325 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score, but the Packers quarterback also threw his third interception of the season. And wide receiver Davante Adams, who just a week earlier had no problem with saying he’s the best receiver in the NFL, had a couple of contested drops and then lost a fumble as the Packers had a pair of rare turnovers on the day.
Adams did bounce back after suffering an ankle injury in the second half to catch a leaping 6-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers in the 4th quarter that turned out to be the game-winner.
But the conversation after the game, besides that of the monumental contract extension signed by left tackle David Bakhtiari the night before, centered around the Packers lack of emotion from the start, and how it continues to happen at Lambeau Field.
“The big concern for me is it just seems to be more in our home games than when we’re on the road,” Coach Matt LaFleur said. “I get it. It’s a strange year. Certainly, we’re used to having fans to help bring that energy to our football team and we don’t have that right now, unfortunately.
“That’s the situation, and it is what it is. We’ve got to do a better job of supplying that juice internally. All we have is the men in the locker room. We’ll search and try to dig at it and find ways to go out there and compete to the best of our ability.”
Surely, if the now 1-8 Jacksonville Jaguars can play inspired football, in a season that is already lost for them, then the Packers can find a way to get jacked up to play a game on their own home field. Green Bay has everything to play for and they only get 16 chances in a season. Why can’t they get beyond the fact that there’s no fans allowed inside Lambeau Field and find a way to create their own juice?
Time will tell if they can figure it out, or if they’ll have to potentially facing playing playoff games on the road. Maybe that isn’t such a bad idea, given their home struggles.
For now, the focus shifts to a road contest at Indianapolis, this Sunday afternoon (3:25 p.m. Fox) against the Colts.