Packers gave fans 'pretty good reason to boo'

Ryan Wood
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GREEN BAY - This football shrine in northeast Wisconsin is a sanctuary for Green Bay Packers fans. They travel near and far, carrying expectations to Lambeau Field.

Usually, they’re rewarded.

Since 1990, their 135 home wins are most in the NFC. They’re second in home winning percentage, behind only the Pittsburgh Steelers. Packers fans have grown to expect wins inside their football shrine. Lambeau Field is known for its leap, not booing.

That changed Sunday during a 30-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys before a crowd of 78,481. The Packers were booed loud. They were booed often. They were booed without prejudice — both offense and defense, stars or not.

Yes, players heard it.

“It’s hard to ignore ‘em,” defensive tackle Mike Daniels said. “They’re pretty loud.”

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The boos came in different forms. Some were incredulous. Some were angry. Others were desperate.

Never were they louder than when the Packers jogged toward the southeast tunnel on their way to the locker room before halftime. They had just let a tight game slip away. Daniels would later use the word “ridiculous” to describe the Cowboys’ five-play, 97-yard touchdown drive that took only 33 seconds and set the halftime score at 17-6.

The Packers’ bumbling offense tried to salvage a field goal. They had possession at the 43-yard line, eight seconds left, no timeouts.

Ideally, quarterback Aaron Rodgers would throw a quick pass toward the sideline. Instead, he threw a slant to the middle of the field. Receiver Ty Montgomery caught it for 15 yards, but time expired.

The Packers finished with four turnovers, but this could be considered a fifth. The home-field fans couldn’t believe it. So they let players have it.

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“We gave them a pretty good reason to boo,” right guard T.J. Lang said. “Turning the ball over like that, not really playing good offense. They’re frustrated, we’re frustrated. It is what it is. So I can’t blame them for it, I guess. We kid of stunk it up there on offense. We deserved it.”

Perhaps the harshest boos were reserved for Rodgers. That may be the most stunning part of what unfolded Sunday.

The two-time MVP quarterback has had worst games, at least based on numbers. Rodgers finished with a season-high 294 yards, finishing six shy of his first 300-yard passing game since last November. He completed 73.8 percent of his passes, snapping an 18-game drought without hitting the 70-percent mark.

Yet Rodgers extended his career-worst slump. He missed a touchdown when his throw sailed over a wide-open Randall Cobb in the end zone. He fumbled with the Packers poised to score inside the Cowboys’ 5-yard line.

No, this wasn’t a one-game blip. Take away their romp over the Detroit Lions before the Packers’ bye week, and an ugly pattern emerges. Rodgers, known for taking care of the football, has eight touchdowns and six turnovers in four other games this season.

Their anger has slowly built over the past year. By Sunday, Packers fans had had enough. They let Rodgers know it, booing him multiple times.

“Look,” Rodgers said, “we’re upset. They’re upset. It’s part of it. It’s not the first time, probably won’t be the last time.”

Later, Rodgers added: “They have a right to do that. We’re just as pissed as they probably were watching that game.”

The Packers' defense was good — if not great — through the season’s first four games. Sunday was an exception. The NFL’s most dominant defensive front was gashed by the league’s best offensive line. Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott finished with 157 yards on 28 carries, a field day highlighted by 5.6 yards per rush.

The Packers allowed 30 points at home for the first time since Dec. 8, 2014. So they booed the defense, too.

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“It’s discouraging,” outside linebacker Clay Matthews said. “You never want to hear that, but ultimately their response is going to be, ‘Win ballgames.’ They come here to win. So I understand where it’s coming from, but it’s your home crowd. You want to make sure they have your back.

“But, shoot, if I’m a fan, I come here to watch the Packers win, and we didn’t do that tonight.” and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood

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