Rodgers, Packers fail to rally as playoff hopes dwindle | News, Sports, Jobs

GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (AP) — Aaron Rodgers failed to pull off a second straight late comeback and didn’t get much help from a Green Bay defense that continues to underperform.

Now the Packers go into Thanksgiving week with virtually no room for error as the three-time NFC North champion’s playoff hopes continue to dwindle.

“It’s literally win or go home at this point.” said cornerback Jaire Alexander after the Packers’ 27-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night. “So every game is a playoff game. For us, every game is the Super Bowl. So we have to attack it now.”

Green Bay (4-7) lost two games behind San Francisco (5-4) in the race for the final NFC wildcard spot.

Next up for the Packers is a trip to Philadelphia to take on the NFC East-leading Eagles (9-1).

“We have to play to our potential” said Rodgers, who went 24 of 39 for 227 yards with two touchdowns. “If we fulfill our potential, we can win our last six games. I am convinced. Of course I have to use my potential. It wasn’t tonight.”

No it was not.

Green Bay’s disheartening performance halted the momentum the Packers had built four days earlier as they recovered from a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Dallas Cowboys 31-28 in overtime. That sparked a five-game losing streak, the Packers’ longest run since 2008.

“I’m extremely disappointed at the moment to show such a performance,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “I do not know what to say. It wasn’t like it was a few days ago and that’s why you’re only as good as your last game and every time you go on that field you have to go out and do it.

Tennessee posted season-high points and yards (408). The Titans even scored their first touchdown in the fourth quarter of the year.

That’s the same offensive line from Tennessee that entered the night at an average league-low yards per game of 281.7. The Packers spoke boldly during the offseason about how they could have one of the NFL’s best defenses, but they’ve struggled to stop teams when it matters most.

Green Bay’s greatest strength on this side of the ball was a third-down defense, which entered the league third on Thursday. But the Packers couldn’t get Tennessee’s offense off the field. The Titans went down 7 of 13 in third place.

“We’ve had a lot of opportunities to get them off the field and they’ve got the thirds and ones and fourths and ones or whatever the case may be.” Defensive tackle Kenny Clark said. “So we have to put them in negative situations and put them in third-and-long situations.”

That was most evident in the second quarter, when the Titans ran 27 plays to the Packers’ six and overtook Green Bay by 91 yards to 17.

Quay Walker stopped Derrick Henry for a 2-yard loss on fourth and 1 of 4 as an 18-game drive in Tennessee ended no points. But the Titans forced a punt, got the ball back, and finally drew on Henry’s four-yard run that made it 14-6 just before halftime.

That was the first of three straight touchdown drives for the Titans.

The only bright spot for Green Bay has been the continued emergence of rookie receiver Christian Watson, who caught two touchdown passes against Tennessee after scoring three goals against the Cowboys. He is the first Packers rookie to have multiple touchdown receptions in consecutive games since Max McGee in 1954.

“At the end of the day none of that matters if we don’t win football games.” said Watson. “Of course I have to keep getting better and we have to keep getting better.”

Watson’s second touchdown reduced the Titans’ lead to 20-17 late in the third quarter.

But that’s as close as the Packers would come. Green Bay totaled 8 yards on his next three drives as Rodgers failed to recreate his magic from Sunday.

Now the Packers need an even bigger comeback to make it back to the playoffs.

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