GREEN BAY, Wisc. – After Aaron Rodgers took several shots at the Detroit Lions this season and refused to give them any respect, they went into his stadium, beat him for the third time in a row, and dealt a final blow to his playoff hopes.
It all started after the Lions’ Week 9 win over the Green Bay Packers. Going into that game, the Lions were 1-6 and had one of the worst defenses in the NFL.
But Rodgers struggled, completing 23 of 43 passes for 291 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions, which tied his career high. Two of his interceptions came in the red zone, which ended up being the difference in a 15-9 game.
After the loss, Rodgers dropped this line: “You can’t lose a game like that against that team, though.”
One of the players to pick off Rodgers in that game was defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson, but the veteran quarterback claimed he gifted it to the rookie. The other two interceptions came from Kerby Joseph -- another rookie.
“Look, no disrespect, but did they play great?” Rodgers said on the Pat McAfee Show. “I mean, we had 400 yards of offense on them, moved the ball up and down the field. I threw an interception off a helmet. I threw an interception about five yards short of Dave. It wasn’t like -- I didn’t play a great game. We still made a lot of mental mistakes, but I don’t think they really stopped us. We had three possessions in the first half and went up and down the field. So, you know, it’s more about us, I think, than them.”
On its own, that quote wouldn’t sound so bad. But there was the whole “that team” thing. And then, a few weeks later, following a Dec. 19 win over the Los Angeles Rams, Rodgers went out of his way to take another dig at Detroit.
“You’ve got to win out, and you need some help,” reporter Lisa Salters said. “All three opponents (are) over .500. How do you like your chances?”
“Well, one of them’s at .500 right now,” Rogers responded.
He wasn’t wrong: At the time, the Lions were 7-7. But the fact that he couldn’t just let it go -- like almost every other player would in that situation -- rubbed many fans the wrong way.
Lions players certainly noticed. They talked about the disrespect from the Packers and Rodgers during the week leading up to the Sunday Night Football matchup. It was obviously enough to motivate the Lions even after they were eliminated from playoff contention earlier in the day.
Rodgers wasn’t much better in the rematch, completing 17 of 27 passes for just 205 yards, one touchdown, and an interception.
His pick came on the final throw of the game and was made by -- you guessed it -- Kerby Joseph. It was actually Joseph’s second interception of the game, but his first was wiped out by a hands to the face penalty.
The Lions went 38 yards on eight plays to drain the final 3:27 off the clock and send a dejected Rodgers home for the offseason.
Rodgers is a surefire Hall-of-Famer, and Green Bay is a much more accomplished franchise than Detroit. But this year, “that team” is now, in fact, over .500, and finished a game ahead of the Packers in the standings.
For once, the Lions got the last laugh.