GREEN BAY — At midweek, Brett Hundley claimed it didn’t matter. He wasn’t bothered by the bizarre disparity between his numbers at Lambeau Field and his numbers away from home. He just wanted to play well.
“I try to play my best every week. I could care less if it’s at home, if it’s away,” Hundley said at the time. “(I’m) just trying to put this team in the best position to win. I try to bring it and give my best performance every week.”
His performance in Saturday night’s 16-0 loss to the Minnesota Vikings was, unfortunately for the Packers, more of the same for him at Lambeau Field: Not good enough.
Hundley, starting his eighth game of the season with two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers back on injured reserve after his one-game attempt last week to keep the Packers’ playoff hopes alive, finished his night having completed 17 of 40 passes for 130 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 30.2, his lowest of the season.
It certainly didn’t help that he began the game without his favorite receiver, Davante Adams, because of a concussion and lost veteran receiver Jordy Nelson and veteran tight end Richard Rodgers to shoulder injuries during the game. He lost running back Aaron Jones and right tackle Jason Spriggs to knee injuries as well.
But to his credit, Hundley, who was also the victim of at least five dropped passes, made no excuses.
“It’s really hard. (But) you’ve got to find a way to win. That’s the name of the game,” Hundley said. “The defense played their butts off. We didn’t capitalize on the plays we needed to, and that starts with me.
“It obviously limits the offense but at the same time, this game is about winning. No one is going to look at who was on the field when they go back and look at this game. They’re not going to look at anything else but the final score. That’s what matters.”
Hundley will start again in next week’s New Year’s Eve season-finale at Detroit, which would seemingly be ideal for him.
In four road games, including coming on in relief of Rodgers after he broke his right collarbone at Minnesota on Oct. 15, Hundley has completed 88 of 130 passes (67.7 percent) for 879 yards with eight touchdowns and only three interceptions (97.6 rating). In five games at home now, Hundley has completed only 90 of 162 passes (55.6 percent) for 785 yards with no touchdowns and seven interceptions (50.6 rating).
“Statistically, not great. I’ll tell you that much,” Hundley replied when asked about his home performances. “Everybody wants to play great at home, and for me it hasn’t been the greatest. I’m not going to walk out with my head down. But it (stinks) to lose and it (stinks) not to play well at home.”
The Packers are 2-2 in Hundley’s four appearances on the road and now 1-4 in his five home starts. The Packers’ lone victory at Lambeau Field with Hundley at quarterback was a Dec. 3 overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in which Hundley threw for only 84 yards and had a passer rating of 48.3.
Even when things seemed to be going right for Hundley on Saturday night, they took a turn for the worse. After scrambling for a 24-yard gain — a play that marked the Packers’ first crossing of midfield in the game, with 4 minutes left in the half — Hundley took a page out of Rodgers’ playbook, catching the Vikings defense with 12 men on the field for a free play. Hundley hit Jordy Nelson for an apparent 25-yard gain, only to have it overturned by Vikings coach Mike Zimmer’s replay challenge.
Five plays later, with the Packers at the Minnesota 15-yard line and facing a makeable third-and-3 with a chance to cut the Vikings’ lead to 10-7 with a touchdown, Hundley threw his ninth interception of the season, hitting Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith between the numbers while throwing into double coverage on a pass to Lance Kendricks. Kendricks was open initially off the line of scrimmage on the play, but Hundley held it and then threw too late, resulting in the interception.
“That was just a bad read, a bad throw,” Hundley said. “I could have gotten him early, held it and just misread it.”
As a result, Hundley became the holder of a ignominious record: The most pass attempts at home without a touchdown in NFL history.
“I know what my expectations of myself are. They’re higher than anybody watching TV at this moment, any coach. I’m putting in the work, I know what I have to do,” Hundley said. “To go out there and not be consistent and not give our team a chance to win each game, that hurts.”