ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers’ frustration following a fourth consecutive loss was familiarly apparent. This time, the Packers quarterback chose his words more carefully in expressing them.
A week after suggesting some players need to be benched and citing too many mental errors following a 23-21 loss at Washington, Rodgers was more understated on Sunday night. He preached patience after a 27-17 loss to the AFC-leading Buffalo Bills dropped the Packers to 3-5 — their worst start through eight games since Rodgers took over as quarterback in 2008.
“The most important thing is to take a beat,” Rodgers said. “After a frustration like this, the last thing you want is to respond in emotion. So take a beat. Let it sit. There’s not a whole lot to say after the game that is really going to spark the team.”
Rodgers snapped a 13-game win streak in prime-time, and the Packers have lost four in a row for the first time since 2016. Rodgers responded to that midseason slump by declaring the Packers could “run the table.”
They won the next eight on their way to the NFC championship game.
On Sunday night, Rodgers said the Packers just need to find a way to get one victory.
“I feel like if we just get one, then our whole momentum changes,” Rodgers said.
The Packers haven’t lost five of their first eight games since 2006, when Brett Favre was the team’s starter. Their third double-digit loss this year matches the most they’ve had in a full season with Rodgers at quarterback. The five losses marks the most they’ve had in one season under coach Matt LaFleur took over in 2019, and most since a 6-9-1 finish in 2018.
Now the three-time NFC North champions face an uphill climb in the division standings after falling three wins behind the Minnesota Vikings (6-1).
What encouraged Rodgers was the energy he felt from his teammates leading up to the game, by noting it “felt like the Packers again.” The only issue was how it failed to carry over into an outing Green Bay trailed 24-7 by halftime.
After holding Buffalo to its first three-and-out on the opening drive this season, the Packers’ defense allowed touchdowns on three consecutive possessions, and field goals on the next two, before stiffening to intercept Josh Allen twice in the fourth quarter.
LaFleur said the Packers need to play with more discipline.
Green Bay had eight penalties for 58 yards, including an offensive pass interference penalty on tight end Robert Tonyan that wiped out a touchdown on the first series of the second half.
“We’re getting killed with penalties,” LaFleur said. “It’s taking points off the board. It’s extending drives.”
LaFleur was especially displeased when linebacker Quay Walker got ejected in the second quarter for shoving an inactive Bills player on the sideline, further weakening a defense that also lost leading tackler De’Vondre Campbell to a knee injury.
“When it gets chippy, you’ve got to keep your poise,” LaFleur said. “Mistakes are going to happen in this game. But losing your cool, losing your poise, putting the team in jeopardy, I’ve got no tolerance for that.”
Walker regretted his emotional response, saying it was sparked after he was pushed from behind after tackling running back James Cook.
“I probably misinterpreted on what it was,” Walker said. “I just felt the push, and I’m on their sideline. Feelings just flowing. I’m very hyped and everything like that. And I just let it out of emotion. Right away, as soon as I did that, I regretted that I did that. But it’s something that I’m going to have to live with, and I’m going to have to face.”
Emotions flared before the game, with Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander and Bills receiver Stefon Diggs exchanging words in the tunnel before and after pre-game warmups.
While Green Bay’s running attack combined for a season-best 208 yards, the Rodgers-led passing attack was limited by an injury depleted group of receivers. Christian Watson left the game with a concussion in the first quarter, further depleting a receiver group already missing Allen Lazard (shoulder) and Randall Cobb (ankle).
“We know we have everything in the locker room. We just haven’t put it together,” said running back Aaron Jones, who had 143 yards rushing. “I feel like we did a great job in the run game. We just gotta keep going, keep digging.”