In the aftermath of another stunning Packers loss Sunday — this one to the lowly Lions — QB Aaron Rodgers was asked about his continued faith in his team in the midst of what has now grown to be a five-game losing streak.
How, Rodgers was asked, could he continue to believe things will turn around this season after losing to a team that came into Sunday with just one win?
Rodgers paused for 13 seconds then offered this:
"I've been counted out many times in my life as have many of my teammates," he told reporters in Detroit on Sunday. "I hope we just dig deep and find a way. We will truly be underdogs for many games going forward. Hopefully we can embrace that."
Whether Rodgers was choosing his words carefully or actively searching for something positive to say — perhaps some of both? — the reality is the same.
Week after week in October and now November, the Vikings have pulled out close games and watched their border rivals fail to do the same — something Patrick Reusse and I talked about on Monday's Daily Delivery podcast.
Minnesota's six-game winning streak has coincided with Green Bay's five-game losing streak, with the down-to-the-wire finishes often looking like mirror images of each other. On Sunday, the Vikings rallied from 10 points down. Green Bay's final drive stalled deep in Lions territory in a 15-9 loss.
Every week, the Vikings' cartoonish lead in the NFC North swells. It's now 4 1/2 games, and it's to the point that Minnesota has at least a mathematical chance to clinch the division by Thanksgiving.
How did this happen? I'll spend some of this week trying to answer that from a Vikings perspective, but after listening to Rodgers and Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur after Sunday's game I know this: If they don't know, I sure don't.
This is a Packers team, after all, that won 13 games each of the past three seasons while Rodgers won back-to-back MVP awards. Even without Davante Adams and with injuries mounting, nobody could have seen this coming (except Reusse, who did predict a 7-10 Green Bay season).
"Well, a lot of things went into that," Rodgers said Sunday, again after a long pause, when asked how a juggernaut became a can't-win team. "We won a lot of one-score games over those years, and we haven't been doing that this year. That's one thing."
The questions didn't get any easier. He was asked if he regrets coming back instead of retiring, with the reporter saying Rodgers looks "miserable" on the field.
"I think that's an exaggeration," Rodgers said postgame. "Frustration and miserable are two different emotions."
Green Bay is averaging just 17.1 points per game after scoring just nine against Detroit. Rodgers was intercepted three times deep in Detroit territory, including twice inside the 5 yard line.
The numbers add up, even if it doesn't make any sense. This is, after all, a team that averaged 26.5 points last season.
What's the difference this year?
"If I had that answer right now for you, I don't think we'd be in this spot," LaFleur said in response to that question Sunday. "That's something we have to take a good, hard look at. Everything we do."