Aaron Rodgers heard the criticism after the Green Bay Packers relinquished an 18-point halftime lead during last week’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Whether it was friends or family, the Packers’ MVP quarterback was appraised on everything from the questions about his leadership to holding onto the ball too long in the pocket.
During Sunday’s 42-24 win over the previously undefeated Houston Texans, Rodgers put all of that behind him while throwing for 338 yards and a career-high six touchdowns.
When asked what message Sunday’s dominating victory sent to his critics, Rodgers simply said only “Shhh” before walking off.
“I think we were all just tired of answering questions about what happened to the Packers? What happened to me?” Rodgers said earlier in the interview with ESPN’s Michelle Tafoya.
“It was a good team effort tonight, the offensive line blocked great. We ran the ball with effectiveness. Guys made some plays down the field. Getting back to the way we’re capable of playing.
“We haven’t gone anywhere.”
At 3-3, the Packers remain in range of the 4-1 Chicago Bears, whom they beat in Week 2 at Lambeau Field and are coming off a bye.
The Packers face another tough test next week against the much-improved Rams (3-3), who have won all three of their home games this season.
In Rodgers’ mind, however, Sunday’s win over the Texans served as a turning point for the Packers’ season.
“I think so, I really do,” Rodgers said. “We talked about this week getting some momentum against a very good football team that was undefeated who’s been at the top of most people’s rankings. The best team in the NFL, that’s kind of been what the talk’s been and to win in their place was big for us. Now, we have to keep this momentum going.”
Here are some other highlights from Rodgers’ news conference with media following Sunday’s win….
On the Houston Texans:
“It’s a very good team. That team is going to be there in the playoffs and there down the stretch for sure. They have a great quarterback, great running back, great defense and very well coached. This is just a team that has a lot of pride in that locker room. I said it this week, there’s not any quit in that locker room. It’s almost when people are doubting us a little better I think. We kind of band together. People tried to pull us apart this week and we kind of stuck together and found our motivation within.”
On if this was as close to a must-win game as you get in Week 6:
“I never like to use those words, but I know what you mean. This was an important game for us. We’ve had a couple not go our way, games we should’ve won and 2-4 would’ve been very difficult. We have a tough stretch still to play, another road game next week before we get to come home. There’s a number of good teams left on our schedule, five division games. You can add up too many losses early in the season, especially the way Chicago’s playing right now. We can’t get too far behind them.”
On if he heard the criticism this week:
“Of course, I heard it. It wasn’t like I pay a lot of attention to it, but people – whether it’s good stuff or bad stuff – friends of mine they like to tell me what’s being said out there. I’m not somebody who watches a ton of TV, but puts a whole lot of worth into some of those comments, but I feel like I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder and it helps when people give me a reason to have that chip.”
On Jordy Nelson:
“Jordy is a great player. He’s a phenomenal athlete. He gives you a lot of confidence as a quarterback that when you put the ball in his area, he’s going to come up with it. He made some big catches for us. That touchdown really got us going early in the game. It was just him running by the corner and making a good play on the ball and he’s strong enough to get into the end zone.”
On the Packers committing to the run:
“It was important for us to stick with it tonight. Their subpackage is four down, one linebacker, playing a lot of six DB stuff, so when there’s six DBs on the field you have to be able to run the ball effectively. They like to play wide techniques with their tackles. We had to slow down their pass rush, they have five really good guys who can get after the passer. In their sub, obviously their four are as good as any four in the league. It was important for us, even if we weren’t being super effective with it, to make sure we were still getting the attempts.”
On Texans losing linebacker Brian Cushing, who’s out for the season:
“Brian is a perennial Pro Bowler and it hurts not having him out there, but as we’ve found in Green Bay the next guy up has to step up. We haven’t had Greg for a good part of this season. It’s given James opportunities, he’s done an incredible job for us. Randall Cobb, again Jordy has been very steady. They need to have the same thing happen with Brian out. Someone will step up. They’re a great team, very well coached. I’m sure they’ll miss Brian, but someone will step up and fill the void.”
On answering the Texans’ scores on Sunday:
“That’s kind of what we did a lot last year was being able to put teams away and answer when we needed scores. Continue to keep that two-score, three-score advantage because mentally that’s a big edge. We talked about that this week. We were up 18 against Indy, had a chance to really close the door in the first half, first possession of the second half, so we corrected that. We had big drives in big situations. We didn’t turn the ball over. We got in the end zone and red zone and played a more complete game.”