3. The Packers know it should’ve been a different game.
Green Bay thought it had answered Minnesota’s opening-drive TD on the Packers’ first offensive play, but rookie receiver Christian Watson dropped a deep ball for what should’ve been a 75-yard touchdown.
Later in the first half, running back AJ Dillon got stuffed on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line when the Packers were looking to tie the score at 7.
Those failures were absolutely haunting as the game wore on.
“We had a lot of chances today, not taking anything away from their defense, but we hurt ourselves many times, myself included,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “We had a lot of opportunities to score more than seven.”
Everyone was fired up about dialing up the deep shot early to showcase the speed of Watson, the second-round pick from North Dakota State. He ran a great route and got well behind the defense, but “he just has to finish the play,” LaFleur said.
On the fourth-and-goal, while LaFleur wishes he would’ve called another play he was thinking about, Rodgers was kicking himself for not improvising. It wasn’t part of the run-pass option design, but he believed if he’d pulled the ball back and not handed it off to Dillon, he would’ve “walked in” for a touchdown on his own.
Instead, Smith crashed down from the outside unblocked and helped hold up Dillon.
“Just trust it,” Rodgers lamented.
“I don’t really like playing those what-if games, but games usually do come down to a few plays here and there … 14 points and we’ve been right in it.”
4. Injuries and youth were definitely a factor in the game, but no one wants to make excuses.
The Packers were without tackles David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins, along with No. 1 receiver Allen Lazard. Rodgers mentioned mental mistakes occurring across the board, as well as some bad throws of his own.
Rodgers was sacked four times, threw a jump ball that was picked off, and was pressured regularly into a 67.6 passer rating.
Both the head coach and quarterback wished they’d gotten running backs Aaron Jones and Dillon involved more. While Dillon had 15 touches for 91 total yards (45 rushing, 46 receiving), Jones had just eight touches despite putting up 76 yards (49 rushing, 27 receiving), an average of better than nine yards per play.
“Anytime Aaron Jones comes out of a game with eight touches, that’s not good enough,” LaFleur said. “We have to lean on those guys.”
“Early touches, too, probably,” Rodgers added.