LANDOVER, Md. - The Green Bay Packers’ search for a backup left tackle may have ended at FedEx Field on Sunday, even though it seemed early in the game as though another option was destined to fail.
Starter David Bakhtiari, the main protector of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ blind side, missed his third straight game with an ankle injury. The options the Packers opted for in the first two games — moving backup right tackle Don Barclay to the left side and then moving starting left guard Josh Sitton to tackle — both blew up in their faces as Rodgers was sacked 13 times in those games.
Against Washington, Green Bay tried a third option, third-year offensive lineman JC Tretter. Primarily the backup at center, Tretter was making his first appearance at left tackle this season. And it showed on the Packers’ second series of the game.
On third-and-9 from their 9-yard line, the Packers were pushed back to their 4 after a false start penalty on Tretter. On the next play, Washington pass rusher Preston Smith pushed Tretter back, collapsing the pocket and sacking Rodgers for a safety as the quarterback tried to escape. It was a nightmare start for Tretter, who only learned on game day that he’d be starting, and it could have destroyed his confidence.
“It’s a long game and obviously you’re going to have some ups and downs,” Tretter said. “But you didn’t want that to start snowballing. So you just have to buckle down, understand what you did wrong and just correct it and get moving on to the next play.”
That’s exactly what he did. His name wasn’t mentioned for the remaining 50 minutes of the game — a goal for any offensive lineman.
Asked what he did to bounce back, Tretter said, “I changed my set, did some different things, just understanding … you see what he’s going to do to you and make some adjustments from there. Just change the type of set I was taking and I was more ready for the bull and the long-arm.”
Sitton knows things can go downhill quickly after a disastrous start, but said he had confidence Tretter wouldn’t back down from the challenge.
“He’s just one of those guys that’s not going to let a play in the past affect him,” Sitton said. “He just has that mentality. He’s very strong-willed and he’s very good in that way. A lot of guys can’t do that. A lot of guys let it snowball.”
Tretter’s play allowed the Packers to break out of an offensive slump, scoring their most points (35) since Week 3 and producing 346 yards.
If Bakhtiari can’t play at Arizona on Saturday, the Packers now appear to have a viable stand-in.
“I think he jumped in there, man, and did an outstanding job,” receiver James Jones said. “I had a chance to watch him a couple times and he didn’t let the guy get nothing really.
“So, proud of them, the whole O-line and, man, they stepped up today, we were able to run it, pass it, gave Aaron some time and we’re going to need those guys if we’re going to get where we want to go.”
Second-year wide receiver Davante Adams was having one of his better games in recent memory. During Green Bay’s 2-minute drive at the end of the first half, Adams caught a 20-yard pass on third-and-2 and two plays later caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in the back corner of the end zone for Green Bay’s first lead of the game at 17-11.
“I’m not sure what happened on defense for them,” he said, “but when I ran inside, inside-released, I was really just running uncovered. I hope that I would have been able to make that play.”
But on the Packers’ first play of the second half, Adams caught a pass and tried to dive for the first down, injuring his right knee. He didn’t return.
“They said that it’s just going to be a thing and they felt it probably would be best and smartest if I sat out the rest of that,” he said. “It’s a situation where just feel it out throughout the week, but I think I’ll be fine.”
Adams finished with four catches for 48 yards.
GUNTER STEPS UP
With Sam Shields, Green Bay’s top cornerback, sidelined with a concussion for a month and Quinten Rollins leaving the game at halftime with a quad injury, undrafted rookie LaDarious Gunter was called upon to play the edge in the dime defense.
Gunter entered Sunday with only 11 defensive snaps this season, but played well with a tackle and a defended pass.
“Gunt’s been making plays for us since preseason, doing a lot in practice,” said fellow defensive back Micah Hyde. “I’m glad to see him out there making some plays.”
» The Packers made their 31st postseason appearance, tied with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants for the most in the NFL.
» Green Bay is 32-20 all-time in the postseason. The 32 wins are the second most in the NFL behind the Pittsburgh Steelers (34-22). Green Bay’s .615 postseason winning percentage ranks No. 2 in NFL history (Baltimore, 15-8, .652).
» Mason Crosby is on a current franchise-record streak of 18 consecutive field goals made in the playoffs, which is also tied for second in NFL playoff history behind only David Akers (19). He also has scored in his past 14 consecutive postseason games, a franchise record.