SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- It wasn't all bad news after the Green Bay Packers' blowout loss at the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night: At least they didn't lose starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga for the rest of the season.
Sources said Bulaga, who left the game in the first quarter after someone rolled into his right knee and was immediately ruled out, avoided a major injury to the same knee that was repaired in 2017 when he tore his ACL. One source said Bulaga did not reinjure his ACL, which would have ended his season. He could miss next Sunday's game against the New York Giants and even one more after that, but the Packers should have him back for the stretch run.
And the way their offense played without him for most of the 37-8 loss, they'll need all the help they can get.
One of the most uttered words in the Packers' locker room afterward was "bad."
It was almost historically bad.
They were 0-for-14 on third downs before they finally converted one with 32 seconds left in the game -- and Aaron Rodgers was already out, leaving backup quarterback Tim Boyle to mop up. Before Boyle converted the last third down to go 1-for-15 on the money down, the Packers were in danger of being blanked on third down for the first time since they went 0-for-8 in a 1999 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Rodgers finished with just 104 yards on 20-of-33 passing and was sacked five times. It was the fewest yards Rodgers has ever had in a game with at least 30 passes. His previous low (161) came in the Week 9 loss at the Chargers. His 3.2-yard average per attempt was his career low in an NFL start.
First-year coach Matt LaFleur, in trying to sum up the struggles in Green Bay's two California losses this month, finally ended a long answer with this: "It was bad ball."
"You know, listen, I know those questions are going to come up anytime you get whipped like we did today," LaFleur said. "I still have a lot of confidence in our guys. But we've got to be critical of ourselves and every one of us -- coaches, players, everybody involved -- and figure out why this happened and make sure it doesn't happen again because I do feel like we have a lot of talented players. But it just ... it was bad ball."
Rodgers used the "B" word, too.
More than once.
"I think we were just pretty bad in the passing game tonight," Rodgers said.
On the two losses to California teams, Rodgers said: "Well, just a couple bad performances. I think both games we were bad on third down. Tonight, we were terrible on third down. We didn't do a good job of establishing the run in both games. I think the games we've got out and played well on offense, we've had a good run game. They shut us down for a good part of the night running the ball, and we couldn't really throw it worth a you-know-what, either."
The loss dropped the Packers (8-3) two games behind the 49ers (10-1) in the NFC playoff seedings, meaning if there's a meeting in the playoffs, it could be right back at Levi's Stadium.
"I still like our chances," Rodgers said. "I think we have the makeup to bounce back from these kind of things and put ourselves in a position to potentially come back here and play again."