GREEN BAY, Wis. — This will be a strange couple weeks in Titletown.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is done for the year after he was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, one day after Green Bay had its streak of eight consecutive postseason appearances come to an end.
Rodgers threw for three touchdowns and tossed three interceptions in Sunday’s 31-24 loss at Carolina in his return from a broken collarbone. Coach Mike McCarthy said there were no setbacks with Rodgers’ injury, but it made sense to shut him down.
“He took a number of hits. With all the factors involved, we felt this was clearly in Aaron Rodgers’ best interest,” McCarthy said. “He’s not happy about it. It’s a hard day for him.”
It’s an unusual time for the team as a whole. The Packers last missed the playoffs in 2008, Rodgers’ first season as the starter. They are not used to playing games this late into December without postseason implications.
Atlanta’s 24-21 victory over Tampa Bay on Monday night sealed Green Bay’s fate in the NFC wild-card chase. Packers receiver Randall Cobb dozed off in front of the TV while watching the game and woke up Tuesday morning to difficult news.
“It’s very disappointing. You never want to be in this situation,” Cobb said, “but we are.”
The Packers managed to go 3-4 in games started by backup quarterback Brett Hundley to keep their playoff hopes alive while Rodgers was out. With Rodgers done, Hundley will take over again as the starter Saturday night against the Vikings at Lambeau Field, and the Packers re-signed Joe Callahan to be his backup.
The last three games of the year figured to be tough with or without Rodgers. He was knocked out in Week 6 after landing on his right arm after a hard hit outside the pocket by Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“I mean, you can’t go out there trying to take someone out like that. Just play ball, we don’t really think about it too much,” left guard Lane Taylor said when asked if the team was motivated by another opportunity to face Barr.
So the Packers are in the unusual position of possibly playing the spoiler role. Their final foe, the Detroit Lions in Week 17, also remains in the chase for a wild-card spot.