LONDON — Aaron Rogers heard the talk before anyone even relayed what the Green Bay Packers cornerback Jair Alexander he said in the locker room after Sunday’s upset loss to the New York Giants.
And he didn’t like it.
Alexander, the Pro Bowl cornerback, said he wasn’t worried about the defense despite his role in the second-half meltdown that led to Green Bay’s 27-22 loss in front of a pro-Packers crowd at Tottenham Hotspur. Stadium. At least not yet.
“I’m not worried, but if we lose next week, then I’ll be worried,” Alexander said, referring to next Sunday’s game against the New York Jets at Lambeau Field. “But it’s a new situation for everyone. New circumstances, sleeping patterns. It’s a complete adjustment here in London.”
Rodgers, who publicly welcomed the trip abroad all week, didn’t like that message. And he wasn’t just pointing at Alexander; he also heard it from others.
“Frankly, I don’t like all this talk about losing next week,” Rodgers said. “I firmly believe in the power of words and demonstration. And we have to control ourselves, because talking about it is not winning football. There was a conversation about it in the locker room, and I don’t know.” I like it. Ja is my boy, but we don’t need to talk like that.”
The Packers will almost certainly be heavy favorites against the Jets, but that was also the case against the Giants. They lost as 9-point favorites, making it the biggest upset in the NFL to date this season and the Packers’ worst loss since Week 13 of 2008, when they lost to the Cardinals as 13.5-point favorites and coach Mike McCarthy was fired afterwards.
The Packers’ performance spoiled what had been a festive week for the team in their first international game. They were the last team in the NFL that had not played outside the country. They jumped out to a 17-3 lead and still led 20-10 at halftime thanks to an effective running game and some accurate short passing.
The second half turned because:
• They tried to throw deep. Rodgers averaged just 3.5 passing yards in the first half and had a 75% completion rate and two touchdowns while doing so, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He averaged 12.1 passing yards per attempt in the second half and completed just 47% without a touchdown. He was 0-for-5 on passes that traveled 20 or more yards in the air, including 0-for-4 in the second half.
Randall Cobb (seven catches for 99 yards) said they’re a little wide on deep balls. But Rogers was asked if the Packers, with davante adams negotiated and Marquez Valdes-Scantling leave in free agency: They’re not cut out to dig deep and may need to stick with the race longer.
“You have a good point,” Rodgers said. “It’s something to think about.”
• In a last-ditch effort to tie the game, Rodgers had two passes rejected on consecutive plays: third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 from the Giants 6-yard line. He only had one loss earlier this season.
“We had a pass rush option on, and they loaded up the box and went to Cover 0, and we thought that’s what they were going to do,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “Unfortunately, he had two batted passes.”
• They left the Giants quarterback Daniel Jones he completed 13 of 14 passes in the second half for 136 of his 217 passing yards. He also had eight of his nine runs (for 34 of his 37 yards) in the second half. The Packers had seven penalties, three of them by cornerback Raul Douglas. Two of them finished off the sacks, and one of them, an angry Douglas, said the officer called because he told him, “You’re bigger than him.”
“I just told everyone, ‘My fault,'” Douglas said. “I had three uncharacteristic damn punishments that I don’t usually get, but I did. I think they screwed up the whole defense.”
It all added up to a loss that left the Packers 3-2 before a long drive home.
“That’s what happens in this league when you don’t come ready to play,” LaFleur said. “It’s not that we didn’t come in ready to play, but obviously they out-executed us in the second half. As I told our team, it’s just disappointing, but we can’t let one loss turn into another.”