GREEN BAY, Wis. — This should temper the enthusiasm over the sight of Aaron Rodgers on the practice field last week.
All the feel-good vibes around the Green Bay Packers after they beat the Chicago Bears for their first win since Rodgers’ broken collarbone followed by the quarterback’s return to drill work off to the side went out in the Lambeau Field cold.
It wasn’t just that the Packers lost to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Hundley gift-wrapped interceptions on the first two drives, at least one of which no doubt will be graded as a “minus decision,” as coach Mike McCarthy calls them. It began a parade of ineptitude just a week after Hundley played his best game in the win over the Bears.
The Packers’ drive chart was an eyesore: Interception, interception, fumble (by rookie running back Devante Mays on his first NFL carry), punt, punt. And that was just in the first half, when the boos got louder with each empty possession. The second half was almost as rotten: Turnover on downs, punt, turnover on downs, punt, sack-fumble by Hundley, turnover on downs, interception.
It was the Packers’ first five-turnover game since Week 5 of 2007 against the Bears.
Dom Capers’ much-maligned defense deserved a better fate. It held the Ravens to just two first-half field goals and gave the offense plenty of time to make a game of it, even though the defense lost Clay Matthews (groin) and Kenny Clark (knee) to in-game injuries.
But when Hundley was turning it over four times, he held the ball too long. He was sacked six times. Yet the Packers managed to move the ball at times. That Davante Adams had a 100-yard day (eight catches for 126 yards) was a testament to his value. Jamaal Williams ran hard in his first start (18 carries for 57 yards).
The Packers actually won the yardage battle. The name of the game, however, is points. Hundley’s first interception came in the red zone, where it appeared Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith read what was supposed to be a pick play between Adams and Randall Cobb. Smith undercut Adams’ screen and went right to Cobb and picked it off in the end zone.
Hundley then came back with a terrible decision on the next series, when an ill-advised throw turned into a gimme interception for Ravens safety Eric Weddle.
Hundley became the first Packers quarterback to throw two first-quarter interceptions since Brett Favre did it in 1999. His red zone interception was his second of the season. Browns rookie DeShone Kizer entered the day as the only other quarterback with multiple red zone picks. Hundley dropped to 1-3 as a starter. He threw for 239 yards on 21-of-36 with three interceptions.
When Mays’ fumble made it a trifecta of turnovers, it became the first time the Packers committed turnovers on their first three possessions since Sept. 12, 1982, against the Rams, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The Packers fell behind 23-0 on that day but came back to win 35-23.
No such luck on Sunday, when the Packers were held scoreless for the first time in exactly 11 years — a 35-0 home loss to the Patriots on Nov. 19, 2006.
The Packers (5-5) have a few more winnable games in the coming weeks before Rodgers would be eligible to come off injured reserve in Week 15, although next Sunday night’s game in Pittsburgh doesn’t seem like one of them. More performances like this one, however, and there would be no reason for Rodgers to come back this season just to play out the string for a non-playoff team.