NFL Packers 49ers American Football
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Aaron Rodgers stood three yards behind the line of scrimmage, hands on his hips, watching his Super Bowl ambitions turn to dust.
The 36-year-old quarterback had driven the Packers inside the 49ers' 30-yard line, hoping to make their 17-0 second-quarter deficit more manageable. But Rodgers couldn't handle a snap from center Corey Lindsey. He watched the ensuing fray from afar, then slowly walked off the field once it became clear San Francisco lineman DeForest Buckner had jumped on the loose ball.
Green Bay never got close after that moment, part of its 37-20 loss in the NFC championship game.
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The Packers want to believe they'll advance deep into the playoffs again next year. But Rodgers, once considered a lock for several Super Bowl appearances, is short on time. Preventable mistakes — a fumble and two interceptions — were particularly gutting for the signal-caller.
"It definitely hurts a little more than earlier in the career just because you realize how difficult it is to get to this spot," Rodgers said. "I don't have the same number of years ahead of me[......]