In New York, the replay of what could have been Sunday’s biggest play was being scrutinized. Did rookie cornerback Damarious Randall catch his interception of Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, or not?
Either way, Randall was kicking himself on the sideline.
“Honestly,” Randall said, “I thought if I caught it clean, I would’ve walked into the end zone. But the ball actually got on me a little fast. I mean, Cam’s got a cannon. So I was just happy to get the pick, and happy to give the offense a chance.”
Randall’s interception gave the Packers a chance to complete a miraculous comeback. They trailed 37-14 with 9:22 left in the fourth quarter, with what appeared to be no chance of coming back.
After two quick touchdowns, Randall’s interception gave the Packers possession at the Panthers' 26-yard line, trailing by only eight points with 3:43 remaining.
The Packers ultimately couldn’t punch in one more touchdown. Their final, realistic chance fell 4 yards short of the end zone. Still, Randall, the first-round draft pick who had a game-winning defended passes three weeks ago against San Diego, continues to impress.
“That boy just makes plays,” safety Micah Hyde said. “He’s a playmaker. I think he was a little frustrated because he gave up a couple little plays, but at the same time that’s the NFL. Guys are going to make plays on you.
“He just kept his head in the game and went out there and made a huge play for us, giving us an opportunity to try to tie the game. That’s (Randall), man. He’s been doing that since Day 1 (when) he got here. He’s a really good football player.”
Short in secondary
The Packers were without two of their top cornerbacks against the Panthers on Sunday, and then lost another to injury in the second half.
Sam Shields, their No. 1 cornerback, and rookie Quinten Rollins were not activated for the game. Shields (shoulder) and Rollins (neck) were injured last week at Denver and did not practice during the week.
Randall started in place of Shields.
Then, with about 5 minutes left in the third quarter, starting cornerback Casey Hayward left the game to be evaluated for a concussion. He was hurt trying to make a tackle on Jonathan Stewart’s 1-yard run inside the Green Bay 5-yard line.
Running back Eddie Lacy left the game late in the third quarter with a groin injury and didn’t return.
The Packers also were without rookie wide receiver Ty Montgomery (ankle), who missed his second straight game. Montgomery was injured three weeks ago against San Diego.
Also inactive Sunday were right end Kennard Backman, quarterback Brett Hundley, linebacker Andy Mulumba, guard Lane Taylor.
» The Panthers entered the game leading the NFL in average rushing yards per game at 144. On Sunday, they finished with 130 on 36 carries, a 3.6-yard average.
» The Packers had a season-high 72 offensive plays. They entered the game averaging 58 offensive plays.
» The loss ended the Packers’ six-game streak of winning the next game after a loss during the regular season.
» This is the first time since 2010 that the Packers have lost back-to-back games during the same regular season with Aaron Rodgers as the starting quarterback.
» Entering Sunday’s game, Rodgers was unbeaten in his previous 14 games following a regular-season loss. His passer rating in that span was 126.2 and he had thrown 45 touchdowns to five interceptions.