“Clearly,” Rodgers mentioned, “the play of the sport.”
Rodgers is past conscious of how the Packers’ final two seasons unfolded and concluded, of their going 13-3 earlier than shedding within the N.F.C. championship recreation, in back-to-back makes an attempt. Their defeat in January at house in opposition to the Buccaneers, and the way it ended — with Coach Matt LaFleur trying an in depth subject purpose as an alternative of trusting his quarterback to surmount an 8-point deficit — contributed to the urgency dealing with this crew.
Whether or not the Packers imagine it or not, they’re underneath strain to succeed in the Tremendous Bowl this season. They’ve a dire salary-cap state of affairs, Adams seems keen to check free company, and Rodgers, by way of concessions Inexperienced Bay made along with his contract, has the facility to find out the place he performs subsequent season. Rodgers mentioned final week that he was “in a great head house.”
“The texture that I get with the vitality within the locker room shouldn’t be strain — it’s focus,” Rodgers mentioned final week. “I feel it’s the suitable perspective and the suitable sort of focus.”
After Sunday’s recreation, Rodgers instructed he thought the Packers had been a bit complacent, believing that they might throttle a crew displaced by Hurricane Ida. The Saints bypassed Florida’s different N.F.L. locations — Tampa Bay and Miami — for Jacksonville as a result of, partially, of its relative inaccessibility and the warmth and humidity, which sapped the Packers’ vitality.
“We felt like the warmer, the higher,” Payton mentioned.
However, in line with The New Orleans Occasions-Picayune, it additionally didn’t escape the Saints that Rodgers was 3-4 with a 78.1 passer score — which might have ranked thirty second within the league final season — in video games performed in Florida. Rodgers, pulled for Love with about 11 minutes left because the Packers confronted a big deficit, is now 3-5 within the Sunshine State.
“It’s only one recreation,” mentioned Rodgers, who accomplished 15 of 28 passes for 133 yards. “We performed unhealthy. I performed unhealthy.”
The Packers would possibly discover consolation from precedent: In Week 9 final season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers misplaced by the identical rating to the Saints, then recovered to win the Tremendous Bowl. There may be hazard in ascribing an excessive amount of that means to the primary recreation, in presuming that Winston will proceed enjoying with self-discipline and poise and that the Packers are plowing towards disappointment. What occurs subsequent with any and all of them is, as Rodgers would possibly say, a good looking thriller.