In many ways, the conclusion to Sunday night’s loss to the Detroit Lions was a fitting one for the Green Bay Packers of 2022.
Over the final four possessions for both teams, the Packers punted away a chance to take complete control of the game, allowed the go-ahead touchdown drive, turned the ball over and then couldn’t get a stop. The Lions dominated the final 15 minutes of play and stole a win from the Packers.
Another fitting piece of the puzzle: Aaron Rodgers’ last pass of the 2022 season ended up being an interception, providing the final act of what was nothing short of a disappointing season for the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer with an uncertain future.
The interception came on 3rd-and-10 from Green Bay’s own 33-yard line. Under immediate pressure, Rodgers launched a throw deep to Christian Watson, but rookie safety Kerby Joseph ranged into position to catch the underthrown pass and put one more nail in the Packers’ coffin.
The Lions ran out the remaining clock thanks to a late fourth-down conversion. Rodgers would get no second chance following the turnover, just like his predecessor on a cold night at Lambeau Field back in January of 2008.
Rodgers, in his 18th season, played all 17 games this season. He dealt with the loss of Davante Adams, injuries to his right thumb and rib, rookie receivers and declining greatness, or at least the consistency of the greatness. Statistically speaking, 2022 was one of Rodgers’ worst seasons.
He threw 26 touchdown passes, but his 12 interceptions – including three total to Joseph – ranked as his most since 2008 and second-most as a starter. His passer rating of 91.1 was the worst of his career as a starter.
Comparing Rodgers’ season to that of 2020 and 2021, when he won NFL MVP, provides a striking image:
|Games with 100+ rating||25||3|
After Sunday’s defeat, Rodgers was asked if he’s still “got it,” and the future Hall of Famer answered affirmatively. There’s no question that some factors were out of his control during the 2022 season and directly contributed to his sharp statistical regression. And he still showed an ability to manage games and make big plays at times, just not with the consistency or reliability of the 2020-21 stretch.
Could he return to an MVP level next season? Sure. But there are no certainties when it comes to quarterbacks entertaining their own football mortality.
Rodgers must now decide if he wants to return in 2023 or call it a career. With a twilight that mirrors Brett Favre’s more and more, Rodgers would have to be comfortable – in a retirement scenario – with his final pass as a Green Bay Packer being a game-breaking interception in a stunning defeat at Lambeau Field.