Packers stunned by ouster from playoffs

The Packers cruised through the regular season with only one loss, but their postseason ended without any wins, much less another Super Bowl title.

The Packers were poised to be right at home at venerable Lambeau Field for the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Instead, the players and coaches from the league's winningest team in the regular season are left to sit at home and, if they even care, watch the conference title bout between the San Francisco 49ers and upstart New York Giants.

"It doesn't feel good," head coach Mike McCarthy said after watching his reigning Super Bowl champion bow out in stunning fashion, 37-20 to the Giants in a divisional playoff at Lambeau.

The Packers, who were next to invincible in losing only one game from Sept. 8 through Jan. 1, will now be remembered as a great team that had one of the bigger flameouts in the history of the NFL playoffs.

"It's disappointing," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "We play to win championships. You win a championship, and you're kind of at the top of the mountain, and you forget kind of how bad this feeling is.

"(We) had it after the 2009 season when we lost to Arizona (in a wild-card shootout decided in overtime), and it sucks. This team, this organization, this fan base expects championships. We had a championship-caliber regular season and didn't play well (Sunday)."

Green Bay was only the sixth team since the inception of the 16-game schedule in 1978 to go at least 15-1 in the regular season. The five teams that previously attained the feat at least made it as far as their conference championship.

Not the 2011 Packers, who self-destructed at the worst possible time.

"We're at a loss for words because that's not how we play," receiver Jordy Nelson said. "We don't drop (the football). We don't turn the ball over. You do that in the playoffs, you're going to lose."

After setting the league on fire with an average of 35 points per game, the Packers' second-lowest points output was inundated with more than a half-dozen dropped passes, three lost fumbles and a season-high four turnovers.

The Giants conversely had only one giveaway as they never let Green Bay get in the lead for the first time all season. The Packers also had more miscues than their opponent for the first time.

"You look at the scoreboard, and you're like, 'Is this really happening?' because the expectations around here were so big, so high," tight end Jermichael Finley said. "It's just one of those looks, like looking into headlights, like, 'What's going on?'"

NOTES

  • QB Aaron Rodgers compiled a season-worst passer rating of 78.5 in the top-seeded Packers' 37-20 loss to the No. 4 New York Giants in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs at Lambeau Field on Sunday. Rodgers completed just 26 of 46 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Rodgers set a league record in the regular season with a 122.5 passer rating. Rodgers led the team in rushing by scrambling for 66 yards in seven attempts.

  • WR Greg Jennings made the start Sunday after missing the last three regular-season games because of a torn MCL. The Pro Bowl player, however, left Sunday's contest in the fourth quarter after suffering a rib injury earlier in the game. Jennings had four catches for 40 yards.

  • FB John Kuhn sustained a game-ending knee injury in the third quarter and had to be taken to the locker room on a cart after being helped off the field. The Pro Bowl player caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers in the second quarter.

  • RB James Starks returned to action after missing the regular-season finale because of a bruised ankle. Starks, who led the team in rushing yards during the regular season, had six carries for 43 yards and also contributed four catches for 24 yards Sunday.

  • WR Donald Driver had three receptions for 45 yards in the game, including a 16-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. The 13th-year veteran set the team record for catches in the playoffs with 49, eclipsing Antonio Freeman's 47.

  • LT Chad Clifton made his second straight start after being out since early October because of a torn hamstring and a back injury. The 12th-year veteran, however, didn't hold up for the entire game and was spelled on different occasions by Marshall Newhouse.

  • RT Bryan Bulaga returned to the starting lineup after missing the final two regular-season games because of a sprained knee.

  • OLB Brad Jones made his one and only start of the season Sunday at the right-side spot, opposite Pro Bowler Clay Matthews. Jones, who worked in a rotation with former starter Erik Walden in the second half, had the only sack of the Giants' Eli Manning and also blocked a 40-yard field-goal attempt by Lawrence Tynes in the second quarter.


  • Viking Update Top Stories

    \r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" The Packers were poised to be right at home at venerable Lambeau Field for the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. Instead, the players and coaches from the league's winningest team in the regular season are left to sit at home and, if they even care, watch the conference title bout between the San Francisco 49ers and upstart New York Giants. \"It doesn't feel good,\" head coach Mike McCarthy said after watching his reigning Super Bowl champion bow out in stunning fashion, 37-20 to the Giants in a divisional playoff at Lambeau. The Packers, who were next to invincible in losing only one game from Sept. 8 through Jan. 1, will now be remembered as a great team that had one of the bigger flameouts in the history of the NFL playoffs. \"It's disappointing,\" quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. \"We play to win championships. You win a championship, and you're kind of at the top of the mountain, and you forget kind of how bad this feeling is. \"(We) had it after the 2009 season when we lost to Arizona (in a wild-card shootout decided in overtime), and it sucks. This team, this organization, this fan base expects championships. We had a championship-caliber regular season and didn't play well (Sunday).\" Green Bay was only the sixth team since the inception of the 16-game schedule in 1978 to go at least 15-1 in the regular season. The five teams that previously attained the feat at least made it as far as their conference championship. Not the 2011 Packers, who self-destructed at the worst possible time. \"We're at a loss for words because that's not how we play,\" receiver Jordy Nelson said. \"We don't drop (the football). We don't turn the ball over. You do that in the playoffs, you're going to lose.\" After setting the league on fire with an average of 35 points per game, the Packers' second-lowest points output was inundated with more than a half-dozen dropped passes, three lost fumbles and a season-high four turnovers. The Giants conversely had only one giveaway as they never let Green Bay get in the lead for the first time all season. The Packers also had more miscues than their opponent for the first time. \"You look at the scoreboard, and you're like, 'Is this really happening?' because the expectations around here were so big, so high,\" tight end Jermichael Finley said. \"It's just one of those looks, like looking into headlights, like, 'What's going on?'\"
  • QB Aaron Rodgers compiled a season-worst passer rating of 78.5 in the top-seeded Packers' 37-20 loss to the No. 4 New York Giants in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs at Lambeau Field on Sunday. Rodgers completed just 26 of 46 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Rodgers set a league record in the regular season with a 122.5 passer rating. Rodgers led the team in rushing by scrambling for 66 yards in seven attempts.
  • WR Greg Jennings made the start Sunday after missing the last three regular-season games because of a torn MCL. The Pro Bowl player, however, left Sunday's contest in the fourth quarter after suffering a rib injury earlier in the game. Jennings had four catches for 40 yards.
  • FB John Kuhn sustained a game-ending knee injury in the third quarter and had to be taken to the locker room on a cart after being helped off the field. The Pro Bowl player caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers in the second quarter.
  • RB James Starks returned to action after missing the regular-season finale because of a bruised ankle. Starks, who led the team in rushing yards during the regular season, had six carries for 43 yards and also contributed four catches for 24 yards Sunday.
  • WR Donald Driver had three receptions for 45 yards in the game, including a 16-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. The 13th-year veteran set the team record for catches in the playoffs with 49, eclipsing Antonio Freeman's 47.
  • LT Chad Clifton made his second straight start after being out since early October because of a torn hamstring and a back injury. The 12th-year veteran, however, didn't hold up for the entire game and was spelled on different occasions by Marshall Newhouse.
  • RT Bryan Bulaga returned to the starting lineup after missing the final two regular-season games because of a sprained knee.
  • OLB Brad Jones made his one and only start of the season Sunday at the right-side spot, opposite Pro Bowler Clay Matthews. Jones, who worked in a rotation with former starter Erik Walden in the second half, had the only sack of the Giants' Eli Manning and also blocked a 40-yard field-goal attempt by Lawrence Tynes in the second quarter.
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