Rodgers Won't Blame Officials

Aaron Rodgers instead laments a golden opportunity to win the game on the first snap of overtime. So, with a long incompletion to Greg Jennings and the season-ending fumble, the quarterback begins to look ahead to next season.

There were 154 plays in Sunday's wild-card shootout in Arizona.

Incredulous Packers fans are steamed at one of them. Somber Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers remains haunted by a different one.

Fans remain dumbfounded that no penalty flag was thrown on Rodgers' game-ending fumble. On the play, cornerback Michael Adams jarred the ball loose from Aaron Rodgers with his right hand. His hand went through the ball and immediately latched onto Rodgers' face mask, with his fingers still clamped on all the way to the turf.

A forum post called "The Referees jobbed us" has been getting a ton of responses.

Had a flag been thrown, the Packers would have had a first down at their 40-yard line rather than be headed to the showers. And that play came on the heals of a second-down play in which Cardinals linebacker Bertrand Berry left his feet and thrust the crown of his helmet into Rodgers' head.

"I get paid to play," Rodgers said Monday when asked about the non-calls. There's always going to be one or two plays in the game where you wonder if there should have been a call or not have been a call. Those are out of my control. So, the things I worry about are the things I can control. I made some mistakes in the game. Those are the ones I'm thinking about, not a potential face mask."

The one play stuck in Rodgers' head came moments earlier. On the first snap of overtime, Rodgers missed Greg Jennings running free deep down the middle. Jennings ran up the seam, faked a corner route and headed back toward the middle. Had Rodgers put some air under the ball, the Packers might have won the game right there because Jennings had left gimpy safety Antrel Rolle in his dust.

"It's disappointing," Rodgers said. "The one play I was thinking about laying in bed last night was the first play of overtime. Unfortunately, I just missed Greg on that one that could have ended the game potentially. (Arizona) made a play in overtime. It's tough that it had to end like that, especially after coming back and getting a gift when Neil (Rackers) missed that field goal and then winning the coin toss. I thought for sure we were going to get some points to end that game and move on to New Orleans, but it didn't happen."

With a hand on his face mask, the game ends for Rodgers.
Matt York/AP Images
The end of the game left a sour taste to an otherwise virtuoso final three quarters by Rodgers. Overcoming an early interception — a "poor decision," he called it on Sunday and Monday — and a fumble by reliable Donald Driver that put the team in an early 14-0 hole, Rodgers rallied the Packers with five consecutive touchdowns in the second half.

"The day after the last game of the season is tough," Rodgers said. "It's a tough loss for us, especially with the roll we got on the second half with the offense. It's tough. You've got to give them credit. They played well. Kurt (Warner) had a great game. To have five touchdowns and four incompletions, it's got to be one of the greatest playoff games in history by a quarterback. We ran into a hot quarterback."

Recognizing that there's no guarantee the team will take a step forward next year, Rodgers sees plenty of reason for optimism headed into the 2010 season. He applauded the big splashes made by some of the draft picks and the contributions of a few undrafted rookies, and pointed to more help coming from several players who spent the season on injured reserve. Rodgers said he hopes the Packers re-sign veteran left tackle Chad Clifton and right tackle Mark Tauscher, calling Tauscher "a big part of our success on offense."

After taking some time off to regroup physically, mentally and spiritually, Rodgers will get back to work. When the Packers weren't holding offseason workouts in Green Bay, he spent most of his time working out with a trainer in San Diego.

"I'll probably even amp it up even more," he said. "This is just going to make myself and these guys want to do much more, knowing — it might not look that close, but we still feel like we were close to achieving all our goals we set forth at the beginning of the season."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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