Rollercoaster Packers season was still a fun ride

Ross Litscher, Sports Editor

When Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb and the rest of the Green Bay Packers walked off Lambeau Field for a final time this season, and possibly ever for those two players, many thoughts ran through the minds of the fans, coaches and players.
Start with where it all began back in the offseason, where expectations for 2022 were still sky high, despite Davante Adams leaving in free agency and an inexperienced team around future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. The team’s 3-1 start was a bit underwhelming, as they clearly weren’t playing up to their potential and had a long way to go. These growing pains caught up to the team as they lost five games in a row, their longest losing streak since 2008.
Sitting at 3-6 and well out of the playoff picture, Aaron Rodgers never lost confidence. After all, he’s been here before. In 2010 they won their last two regular season games to snag the last wildcard spot at 10-6, then went on to win three straight playoff games on the road en route to a Super Bowl title. In 2013 Rodgers came back from a collarbone injury to win three of their last four, including a winner take all game in the regular season finale against Chicago to win the division at 8-7-1. The 2016 Packers started 4-6 before winning six in a row to finish the season 10-6 and make it all the way to the conference title game.
Late-season surges were no stranger to Aaron Rodgers, but despite an upset win over the Dallas Cowboys and the emergence of rookie receiver Christian Watson, the Packers would lose their next two games and the playoffs looked like a mountain too tall to climb at 4-8. Fans and the media were all over the place at this point, from calling for Jordan Love to start to wanting coach Lafleur fired. But through all of this, Rodgers kept that same confidence. Then came a win over the Bears (nothing new there), and then a win over a decimated Rams team.
On Christmas Day, Packer fans were given the present of an upset win in Miami over the playoff ready Dolphins. That result combined with a number of results going the Packers’ way in Week 16 gave fans a sense of hope they hadn’t had in a long time. Week 17 gave of the combo of a dominating home win over the division leading Vikings (also avenging our Week 1 loss) and a Washington Commanders’ loss, which was the last roadblock in the way to the Packers controlling their own playoff destiny.
The script was perfect, win an in at Lambeau Field against a division rival on Sunday Night Football, while also entering the playoffs on a five-game winning streak with a chance to get revenge on the 49ers for last year’s playoff exit.
But as we all witnessed on Sunday Night Football, some scripts are too perfect. The Packers were outplayed by a Dan Campbell-led Detroit Lions team who, because of a Seattle Seahawks win just minutes before kickoff, had no playoff hopes to compete for. Green Bay led for most of the game but could never quite put them away.
Red zone issues were once again a problem just like in the first matchup in Detroit, and as the game went on the Lions took advantage of Packers’ miscues and prevailed with great defense and an offense that took risks like they were trying to take the game from the Packers. A Kirby Joseph pick of Rodgers with 3:37 left led to the Lions bleeding the remainder of the game clock, sealing the game with a fourth and one yard to go pass completion to D.J. Chark. The Lions 20-16 win did nothing for them but sent Geno Smith and the Seattle Seahawks to the postseason.
All of a sudden, the Packers’ playoff dream was over. An 8-9 finish to a roller coaster season that ends with no green and gold in the playoffs for the first time since 2018. The scene at Lambeau after the game was bittersweet; the end of the road always is. And at the end of this road, the same questions from the middle of the season have returned to the surface.
It’ll be a big offseason for the Packers as they are either going to deal with trading Jordan Love or a retiring Aaron Rodgers, plus many roster and coaching decisions to get this team back to a playoff team as soon as possible.
But for now, with the image of Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb walking off Lambeau Field together for possibly the final time as the last image in our minds from this 2022 season, I’m just grateful for the journey.
It’s seasons like this where sports fans find out the most about themselves and their teams. These last 15 or so years with Rodgers have been incredible to watch every fall Sunday afternoon. Don’t be sad it’s over, be happy it happened.