Rodgers' Need To Forget Saints Game
Next game: Sunday, November 30 vs. Carolina
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Chances are, Aaron Rodgers would do several things differently if he had another shot at the New Orleans Saints.
But leading with his still-recovering right shoulder to deliver a hard hit on Saints cornerback Jason David after a third-quarter interception isn't one of them.
"I'm going to do the same thing if that happens again," Rodgers said. "The exact same thing."
Didn't his coaches tell him to cut it out?
"Nope," Rodgers said. "If I did, it was a reactionary thing, so I'm going to do the exact same thing."
With the Packers trailing 31-21, Rodgers threw an interception to David, who ran the ball back 42 yards before Rodgers made a flying leap to knock him out of bounds at the 3-yard line.
It was a significant moment for Rodgers -- just about the only time this season that the even-keel quarterback has shown any visible sign of frustration during a season full of soaring highs and scathing lows.
And with 8-3 Carolina coming to Lambeau Field on Sunday and a playoff spot still possible for the Packers, Rodgers now must forget about perhaps his worst outing of the season.
"You've got to," Rodgers said. "The thing I've learned in these 11 weeks is that the weeks after a loss are the most difficult. But you've really got to move on, move forward, correct the things you did wrong but really put that behind you. Because you can't carry any of that negativity."
It would be natural for any first-year starter to get caught up in the roller-coaster ride of playing quarterback in the NFL.
That's especially true for Rodgers, who has to handle the additional scrutiny that came along with replacing a franchise icon, Brett Favre, who left the team under contentious circumstances. Beyond that, Rodgers played a sizable chunk of the season with a sprained shoulder that severely limited him in practice for more than a month.
But if any of that bothered Rodgers, he mostly kept it to himself.
"I think Aaron Rodgers is definitely a young man with high character," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "He has handled every situation that has been thrown at him. He is going through the process of being a first-year starter and we've had our share of bumps in the road."
McCarthy praised Rodgers' even-keel approach to improving.
"He's going about it the right way," McCarthy said.
It became apparent early Monday night that the Packers were getting caught in a shootout with the Saints. And Rodgers was able to keep up -- for the first half, anyway.
The second half began to unravel when Rodgers threw the interception to David, and Saints running back Deuce McAllister scored two plays later to put the Saints ahead 38-21. The game got away from the Packers when Rodgers threw another interception to David on the next possession.
The mistakes were out of character for Rodgers, who showed a knack for avoiding big mistakes in the majority of his first 10 starts.
Wide receiver Greg Jennings expects Rodgers to come back strong.
"He'll be fine," Jennings said. "I'm not worried about what he's going to do. He's been in this situation before, he's bounced back. I thought he played pretty good the first half, and then the second half we didn't have things go our way -- obviously some things that kind of put our defense in a bind. But it's a matter of bouncing back."
Rodgers' backup, rookie Matt Flynn, said Rodgers has proved his mental toughness this season -- beginning with the way he handled the Favre situation.
"I think Aaron proved how capable he was of handling it in preseason," Flynn said. "I think he's done a great job this year of handling it. Whether it be criticisms or comparisons from anybody, he hasn't listened to it, he's played his game and kept caring and doing what's best for the team."
With the possible exception of exposing his right shoulder to injury on that sideline hit Monday night, that is. Coaches seem to be writing it off as a sign of Rodgers' competitive nature.
"You like the way he saved a touchdown, played physical, and made the tackle," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "At least it gave our defense a chance to play another down. We didn't talk about that much. I didn't say a word to him."
Flynn understood, too -- although he admits that wasn't his first reaction when he watched it happen live.
"What went through my mind? I was like, 'Be careful! You're throwing your throwing shoulder in there,"' Flynn said. "But I've done the same thing. You throw an interception like that, you get mad and you get frustrated and you want to go down there and hit him as hard as you can. I understood exactly what he was doing."
Notes: The Packers listed a whopping 19 players on their injury report Wednesday, although 14 of the players listed were able to participate in at least some portion of Wednesday's practice. "I think it will definitely improve a bunch by the end of the week," McCarthy said. ... RT Mark Tauscher, who missed most of Monday's game with a hamstring injury, did not practice Wednesday. McCarthy said Tauscher also would likely sit out Thursday and be re-evaluated Friday. "I know Mark is very optimistic," McCarthy said. "He has been very positive about his chances to play." ... McCarthy said rookie CB Pat Lee has a sprained knee and could potentially miss two weeks.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)