Green Bay Packers Bungle Season Finale Against Detroit Lions, Miss Playoffs

The Green Bay Packers entered their Sunday Night Football season finale against the Detroit Lions as significant favorites to earn the NFC's final Wildcard spot, but things didn't quite go as planned. Despite facing a Lions team with nothing on the line, the Packers stumbled to a 20-16 defeat, finishing their regular season 8-9 and surrendering their playoff spot to the Seattle Seahawks. The problems that plagued the Packers offense all season reared their ugly heads yet again Sunday night. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers struggled to get on the same page with a young, depleted receiving corps, netting a mere 188 passing yards on 29 dropbacks. He ends the season setting career lows in passing yards per game (217.4) and passer rating (91.1). 

Once too often, Rodgers settled for deep, rainbow shots to covered receivers. It worked out in the first quarter, where he earned a 46-yard pass interference on a heave to Allen Lazard to set up the Packers' first score, but it burned him in the fourth, where a desperate heave to Christina Watson resulted in an interception that enabled the Lions to run out the last 3:30 of regulation.

The Packers radically altered their offense by allowing veteran wide receivers Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling to leave the team after the 2021 season, and though this season was a failure, there are signs of promise. The Packers ran the ball a respectable 124.3 yards per game at 4.6 yards per attempt, and rookie wide receiver Christina Watson appears to have the makings of a star, totalling 523 yards and eight total touchdowns over his final eight games. Unfortunately, the franchise may not be in a position to settle for incremental progress: Aaron Rodgers will turn 40 late next season.
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