Green Bay Packers 2014 season in review
Sept. 4, 2014 at Seattle
SEAHAWKS 36, PACKERS 16
What happened: Green Bay returned to Seattle for the first time since the infamous Fail Mary game only to receive more disappointment. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch had 110 yards and two touchdowns, starting a long first half of the season for the Packers' run defense. The game turned early in the third quarter with Aaron Rodgers' interception off Jordy Nelson's hands deep in Green Bay territory, sparking a second-half rout.
What it meant: A third straight season-opening loss, a defeat that would eventually settle a tiebreaker for home-field advantage in the NFC.
Quote: "I want to spit on the way I played, and I can only speak for myself. It was a pitiful performance. I know I can do way better than that. I will watch the tape, make the corrections — and there's a lot I need to make."
— Packers defensive end Mike Daniels
Vitals: Attendance — 68,424. Weather — 71 degrees, 11 mph winds.
Sept. 14, 2014 at Green Bay
PACKERS 31, JETS 24
What happened: The game started with a fumbled snap exchange on the first play. From there, the first 20 minutes only got worse for Green Bay. The Packers found themselves down 21-3 to the hapless Jets with 10 minutes left in the second quarter before storming back. Green Bay finished by scoring 28 of the game's final 31 points, propelled by Jordy Nelson's career-high 209 yards on nine catches. Nelson had the game-winning score on an 80-yard pass from Rodgers in the third quarter.
What it meant: Green Bay avoided an unfathomable 0-2 start to its season.
Quote: "Jordy spoils us. He plays that way all the time. He practices the same way. He's just a clutch, clutch player."
— Packers coach Mike McCarthy
Vitals: Attendance — 78,041. Weather — 63 degrees, 15 mph winds.
Sept. 21, 2014 at Detroit
LIONS 19, PACKERS 7
What happened: Detroit cornerback Don Carey returned running back Eddie Lacy's opening-drive fumble 40 yards for a touchdown, setting the stage for a miserable day for Green Bay's offense. Between Lacy's fumble and a safety, the Packers' offense coughed up 9 points and scored only 7. The putrid showing ruined one of Green Bay's better defensive outings.
What it meant: A third straight 1-2 start to the season set up a race between the Packers and Lions for the NFC North crown.
Quote: "I think it's more frustrating because our defense played extremely well. For whatever reason, we cannot get on the same page. Either we play well and they don't, they play well and we don't. We just can't play a good game all over the place."
— Packers receiver Jordy Nelson
Vitals: Attendance — 62,418. Weather — Indoors.
Sept. 28, 2014 at Chicago
PACKERS 38, BEARS 17
What happened: Five days after quarterback Aaron Rodgers told panicking fans to "R-E-L-A-X," he backed up his confidence. Rodgers got the Packers back on track by completing 22 of 28 passes for 302 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 151.2 rating. Chicago led 17-14 late in the second quarter, but Green Bay scored the game's final 24 points.
What it meant: The win signaled the end of Green Bay's early-season slump and marked the last appearance of the ill-fated 4-3 quad defense.
Quote: "I had a feeling he'd go off this week. He's a little bit salty when we don't play well. He takes it out on the next team. It was good. Aaron was Aaron today."
— Packers left guard Josh Sitton
Vitals: Attendance — 61,736. Weather — 70 degrees, 3 mph winds.
Oct. 2, 2014 at Green Bay
PACKERS 42, VIKINGS 10
What happened: Green Bay scored 14 points apiece in each of the first three quarters, jumping out to a 42-0 lead entering the fourth. Running back Eddie Lacy hit the century mark for the first time, finishing with 105 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. The rout was punctuated with outside linebacker Julius Peppers' 49-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave the Packers a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
What it meant: The Packers hit their stride in what would be a dominant home stretch in the 2014 season.
Quote: "We've been a team that will put together a couple good quarters. Then, we may put together a couple bad quarters. We never put together four good quarters and today was the opportunity to do that, and we did that. It felt good."
— Packers cornerback Tramon Williams
Vitals: Attendance — 78,054. Weather — 62 degrees, 6 mph winds.
Oct. 12, 2014 at Miami
PACKERS 27, DOLPHINS 24
What happened: Aaron Rodgers executed an 11-play, 60-yard drive with the game-winning touchdown coming off a 4-yard pass to tight end Andrew Quarless in single coverage against linebacker Philip Wheeler with 3 seconds left in regulation. Rodgers also hit Jordy Nelson on an 18-yard reception on fourth-and-10 earlier in the series and made the gutsy decision of throwing a quick receiver screen to Davante Adams off a fake snap to set up Quarless' score. When Rodgers fumbled on Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake's split sack on third-and-9, right guard T.J. Lang jumped on the ball to save the drive.
What it meant: Rodgers silenced some of his critics with the game-winning comeback, which started with 2:04 remaining. The Packers maintained their first-place tie with Detroit in the NFC North.
Quote: "We know they're going to find a way. That's how much respect we have for our offense. We go against them every day. We know what they're capable of doing. Getting the ball in their hands at the end, we had no doubt they were going to go down and score."
— Packers defensive back Micah Hyde.
Vitals: Attendance — 70,875. Weather — 86 degrees, 13 mph winds.
Oct. 19, 2014 at Green Bay
PACKERS 38, PANTHERS 17
What happened: Aaron Rodgers posted the second-highest passer rating of his career (154.5) in disposing of Carolina's patchwork defense early and never looking back. The offense scored touchdowns on its first three series, while Green Bay's defense came one pass-interference call from forcing the Panthers into three consecutive three-and-outs. The run-option threat of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton wasn't a concern. He didn't complete a pass until the second quarter and barely surpassed 200 total yards for the game.
What it meant: It extended the Packers' winning streak to four games, though they remained in a first-place tie with Detroit after the Lions' 24-23 comeback win over New Orleans.
Quote: "That's how we want to play. I think we've been consistent the last few weeks showing the type of team we can be. This is what we want to do. To be able to have three drives, three touchdowns, that's good for us as an offense. That puts our defense in a good position."
— Packers receiver Randall Cobb.
Vitals: Attendance — 78,106. Weather — 48 degrees, 12 mph winds.
Oct. 26, 2014 at New Orleans
SAINTS 44, PACKERS 23
What happened: Green Bay's defense was no match for Drew Brees, but Aaron Rodgers matched him point for point until tweaking his hamstring in the second half. Things quickly went south when Daniel Hawthrone picked off Rodgers on a goal-line pass intended for Andrew Quarless with 7:46 left in the third quarter. The Packers' last-ranked rushing defense gave up 172 yards to running back Mark Ingram, the biggest ground output by a Saints running back in a decade.
What it meant: After falling a game behind Detroit in the NFC North, coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers agreed during the bye week to convert Clay Matthews to an inside linebacker, a move that set the tone for the defense's second-half resurgence. Rodgers came out of the bye week unaffected by the hamstring.
Quote: "He's definitely affected. We kept him in the gun. Obviously we didn't get into the play-action game and scratched off all the quarterback movements. He was limited just to play from the pocket and hand the ball off."
— McCarthy on Rodgers' hamstring injury.
Vitals: Attendance — 73,146. Weather — Indoors.
Nov. 9, 2014 at Green Bay
PACKERS 55, BEARS 14
What happened: Green Bay came out of the bye week with a vengeance against hapless Chicago. Aaron Rodgers completed 18 passes for 315 yards and six touchdowns in the first half, tying former Oakland quarterback Daryle Lamonica's record set in 1969. Offensively stagnant, Chicago was caught completely off-guard with Clay Matthews' move to inside linebacker, contributing to another forgettable performance by Jay Cutler against the Packers. Matthews finished with a career-high 11 tackles (two for loss) and a sack.
What it meant: Detroit pulled off another fourth-quarter comeback for the third consecutive week to hold onto the NFC North lead, but the win was the Packers' largest over their long-standing rival since 1962 when they shut out Chicago 49-0.
Quote: "I got like a five-day crash course on middle linebacker over this past week. Going out there, obviously some reservations about how I was going to play. But when it really comes down to it, in hindsight it's about being an athlete; will and want-to; and getting to the ball. Obviously you have to know where you fit."
— Matthews on playing inside linebacker
Vitals: Attendance — 78,292. Weather — 34 degrees, 5 mph winds.
Nov. 16, 2014 at Green Bay
PACKERS 53, EAGLES 20
What happened: Philadelphia stayed in single-high coverage and Aaron Rodgers carved up the defense for 341 yards and three touchdowns as Green Bay stormed to a 30-6 halftime lead. Eagles backup quarterback Mark Sanchez turned the ball over four times with the Packers' defense scoring twice on a Julius Peppers 52-yard interception return in the third quarter and Casey Hayward's 49-yard fumble recovery in the fourth. Issues on special teams started to surface with Green Bay missing two extra-point opportunities, and Tim Masthay had a fourth-quarter punt blocked.
What it meant: It was the first time in franchise history the Packers scored more than 50 points in back-to-back weeks and extended their franchise record of scoring more than 30 points in each of their last six home games.
Quote: "He was as advertised. I think he is playing as good as anybody in the league. You look at some of the balls he throws: extremely accurate, on target. If you blitzed him, he got it out quick. If you didn't, he held it until guys got open. He got it to everybody."
— Eagles coach Chip Kelly on Rodgers.
Vitals: Attendance — 78,270. Weather — 28 degrees, 13 mph winds.
Nov. 23, 2014 at Minnesota
PACKERS 24, VIKINGS 21
What happened: New Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer carried over his past defensive successes against Aaron Rodgers, who threw for only 209 yards against Zimmer's Cover-2 and double A-gap blitz. However, it opened opportunities for Eddie Lacy, who rushed for a season-high 125 yards and 25 carries despite battling an illness. He rushed five times for 27 yards during the final 3:23, including a third-and-2 conversion to run out the clock on the Packers' seventh victory in eight games.
What it meant: Lacy had started to come to life after a slow start, but this was a turning point in his 1,139-yard season. His performance helped the Packers pull ahead of Detroit for the NFC North lead following the Lions' 34-9 loss to New England.
Quote: "I knew he wasn't feeling great. He's a tough son of a (expletive). ... You could see it on his face a little bit that he wasn't feeling too good. He's just tough, man."
— Packers left guard Josh Sitton on Lacy
Vitals: Attendance — 52,386. Weather — 49 degrees.
Nov. 30, 2014 at Green Bay
PACKERS 26, PATRIOTS 21
What happened: With New England looking to cut off Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, rookie receiver Davante Adams stepped up with six catches for a career-high 121 yards to force the Patriots to slide Brandon Browner into his coverage and allow Cobb more freedom in the middle of the field. Aaron Rodgers outdueled Tom Brady in throwing for 368 yards and two touchdowns. The defense lined up Clay Matthews as its dime linebacker to counteract tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Packers again leaned on the run game to seal the win in the final moments.
What it meant: The Packers maintained their one-game lead over the Lions, but started their downturn in the red zone. Green Bay whiffed on four touchdown chances inside the Patriots' 20, a trend that carried into their NFC championship loss to Seattle.
Quote: "You look for these games. You want to play the best teams in the league. We've had them and honestly haven't played the best football against the best teams. It's good for us to go out, play some good football, continue to win at home."
— Packers receiver Jordy Nelson
Vitals: Attendance — 78,431. Weather — 28 degrees, 14 mph winds.
Dec. 8, 2014 at Green Bay
PACKERS 43, FALCONS 37
What happened: Green Bay scored 31 points in the first half, which set an NFL single-season record for the sixth consecutive home game in which they had scored at least 23 points in the first half. Those points came in handy when the defense allowed 30 points and 304 yards to Atlanta in the second half. Sam Shields, who barely practiced the week before because of a concussion, was replaced by Davon House to help subdue Atlanta receiver Julio Jones. His 11 receptions for 259 yards was the most the Packers ever had allowed in a single game.
What it meant: The Packers picked up their ninth victory in 10 games, but the performance was a wake-up call for the defense. The 465 total yards dropped Green Bay's total defense to a season-low 26th. Atlanta's 374 yards through the air plummeted the pass defense from 11th to 20th.
Quote: "We felt like the offense, they took it away today. We let it get away defensively and the offense did a really good job, especially in the end of keeping the ball in their hands and moving the ball for first down and running out the clock. Give the offense all the credit."
— Packers defensive back Micah Hyde
Vitals: Attendance — 77,512. Weather — 33 degrees, no wind.
Dec. 14, 2014 at Buffalo
BILLS 21, PACKERS 13
What happened: Buffalo was able to get pressure with a four-man rush and held Aaron Rodgers to a career-low 34.3 passer rating off 17-of-42 passing for 185 yards and two interceptions. His 25 incompletions were the most in his NFL career. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga left in the fourth quarter with a concussion. His replacement, JC Tretter, gave up a strip sack to Mario Williams, resulting in a safety on Green Bay's final possession. Marcus Thigpen's 75-yard punt return for a touchdown also was a back-breaker.
What it meant: It ended the Packers' five-game winning streak, pulled Green Bay back into a tie with Detroit and proved to be the blemish Seattle needed to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Quote: "This is an important time for us to see what kind of chemistry we have on our team. If adversity like this tears us apart or if we can stick together. If we stick together, we've got a great nucleus of guys and the opportunity to do something special. But if we let this tear us apart, it's going to be something that's going to stick with us for too long."
Vitals: Attendance — 70,214. Weather — 38 degrees, 10 mph winds.
Dec. 21, 2014 at Tampa Bay
PACKERS 20, BUCCANEERS 3
What happened: The storyline wasn't the final score. It was the health of Aaron Rodgers. Already battling the flu, Rodgers strained his left calf muscle on the second offensive series. He remained efficient in completing 31 of 40 passes for 318 yards and a touchdown against a competent Tampa Bay defense. The Buccaneers' offense was another story, though. The Packers' defense didn't allow a touchdown for a second consecutive game in holding Tampa Bay to a measly 109 total yards (93 passing, 16 rushing).
What it meant: Rodgers played a high level the rest of the season, but was noticeably hampered by the calf. It forced coach Mike McCarthy to take out many of the bootlegs and scrambles that make Rodgers highly dangerous to defend.
Quote: "Really, the last couple of days, you see the kind of warrior he is. He's battled flu — whatever illness he's had — the last couple days and then goes out and strains his calf on the first or second series. He didn't want to come out. I was probably more affected by it than anybody with some of the play calls. Really, really a gritty performance by Aaron."
Vitals: Attendance — 64,247. Weather — 75 degrees, 7 mph wind.
Dec. 28, 2014 at Green Bay
PACKERS 30, LIONS 20
What happened: Aaron Rodgers tweaked his hamstring with a little more than 2 minutes left in the first half and was carted off the field. He returned shortly after halftime to a thunderous ovation and completed 11 of 13 passes for 129 yards in the second half to capture the NFC North for the fourth consecutive year. Detroit lineman Ndamukong Suh stepped on his calf in the second half, for which he was initially suspended one game. It was reduced to a $70,000 fine upon appeal.
What it meant: The Packers extended their winning streak over Detroit in Wisconsin to 24 games and clinched a first-round bye with the No. 2 seed. Jordy Nelson also become the first receiver in franchise history to eclipse 1,500 receiving yards in a single season.
Quote: "The guy could have easily thrown in the towel because that's a tough Detroit defense, we are already in the playoffs. But he didn't. If there was a word of a greater magnitude than respect, that's what I have for Aaron because he laid it out on the line for his brothers and we had to respond. We had to respond."
— Packers defensive lineman Mike Daniels
Vitals: Attendance — 78,408. Weather — 27 degrees, 5 mph winds.
Jan. 11, 2015 at Green Bay
PACKERS 26, COWBOYS 21
What happened: A week after beating Detroit on an overturned call, the Cowboys were dumbfounded when official Gene Steratore overturned Dez Bryant's 31-yard reception on fourth-and-2 late in the fourth quarter because the ball touched the ground and was bobbled when Bryant was reaching for the end zone. The Packers still needed to run out the clock, but the play was the topic of national conversation the following week. It was the first challenge coach Mike McCarthy won all season.
What it meant: The win came in the Packers' first playoff encounter with the Cowboys in Green Bay since the Ice Bowl. It gave Green Bay a chance at redemption for the Week 1 letdown against the Seahawks.
Quote: "A-Rod saw it. He knew it. That took most of the suspense out of it. He walked past and was like, 'It's definitely incomplete.' So that kills it. No suspense."
— Packers running back Eddie Lacy
Vitals: Attendance — 79,704. Weather — 24 degrees, no wind.
Jan. 18, 2015 at Seattle
SEAHAWKS 28, PACKERS 22 (OT)
What happened: Green Bay allowed a 16-point halftime lead to slip through its grasp because of a litany of mistakes in the final 5 minutes of regulation. Recurring issues on special teams resulted in the Packers giving up a touchdown on a fake field goal in the third quarter and then botching an onside kick recovery before Seattle's go-ahead touchdown. The defense picked off Russell Wilson four times, but gave up touchdowns on the Seahawks' final three possessions. A hobbled Aaron Rodgers wasn't himself against the NFL's top-ranked defense.
What it meant: The defeat extended the Packers' losing streak to seven games against San Francisco and Seattle since 2012, the NFC's Super Bowl representatives the past three seasons.
Quote: "Just the confidence that we had there with 5 minutes left in the game, there was nobody on our sideline that thought we could possibly lose that game. Just hurts that we know we had a chance to go move on and shot ourselves in the foot too many times. This one is going to hurt for a while."
— Packers right guard T.J. Lang
Vitals: Attendance — 68,538. Weather — 52 degrees, 15 mph winds.