Packers' Aaron Rodgers frustrated with Matt LaFleur for play calls at end of regulation

Ryan Wood
Green Bay Press-Gazette
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GREEN BAY – For most of his Hall of Fame career, Aaron Rodgers has had a certain understanding with his head coach.

In the 2-minute drill, he’s the conductor. He calls the plays. His talent is worth the gamble of an aggressive approach, especially in the fourth quarter.

Matt LaFleur tapped the brakes on aggressiveness throughout the Green Bay Packers’ 31-28 comeback win Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. Twice, he punted after crossing midfield, taking a delay-of-game penalty on fourth-and-medium to provide more room.

Then with the game on the line, LaFleur appeared to play for overtime.

That’s when Rodgers lost his temper on the sideline. Cameras caught the quarterback berating his coach, screaming at LaFleur after a failed third down with 22 seconds left. Rodgers threw his arms in disgust, then glared at LaFleur while screaming.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reacts after an incomplete pass late in the fourth quarter.

After the game, Rodgers didn’t hold back on what had him so upset.

“Just every single play call probably,” he said.

Rodgers’ frustration came in two parts. For one, LaFleur called plays from the sideline during what could have been a 2-minute drill, instead of allowing Rodgers to call them at the line of scrimmage. The extra communication cost more time between snaps.

The Packers’ first play of the drive came with 1 minute, 38 seconds left in regulation, a 2-yard carry for Aaron Jones on a play he was fortunate to even reach the line of scrimmage. The Packers ran 37 seconds off the play clock before their next snap, which came with 55 seconds left on the game clock. Rodgers again handed the ball off to Jones, who gained 7 yards.

The Packers then used their second timeout of the half, but not before 21 seconds ran off the clock. There were 30 ticks left when they ran their final play of regulation, an incompletion on third-and-1.

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Rodgers, clearly agitated even before the third down, wanted more time to put together a scoring drive.

“I felt like we were about 30 yards from ending the game in regulation,” Rodgers said, “and also felt like it was 2-minute, so I was going to be calling those. And I was in a pretty good rhythm. Obviously, didn’t have a ton of attempts tonight, but I felt like I was in a pretty good rhythm. I felt like I threw the ball just about exactly where I wanted to tonight, and I wanted a chance to go win the game.”

In hindsight, LaFleur’s plan was successful. Not just because the Packers won, but the Cowboys had only 16 seconds left to get in position for a game-winning score from their own 18-yard line.

The Packers eventually sealed the game in overtime.

Regardless, LaFleur appeared to question himself after the game. “Our guys bailed me out,” he said when referencing the 2-minute situation. LaFleur indicated “indecision” entered his mind “way too much,” conflicting him on whether to be aggressive or play for overtime.

“They had three timeouts, and I knew we needed like 30-some-odd-yards to potentially get into field-goal range," he said. "So we were calling these run-pass cans, and if we got the look for the pass, we were going to call the pass. We ran it on first down and then ran it on second down, and then on third down they played it well. We tried to take a shot play again, another run-pass can, and it didn’t work out – at least in that moment. But it did work out, obviously, for us to come out on top.

“A lot of times when we get in those situations, we give Aaron the freedom to run the show. And I’d say typically, he does such a great job with it. So, you know, hindsight is 20-20, but that was on me totally.”

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