Kevin King addresses NFC title-game woes, tries 'to win a Super Bowl' with Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There was plenty of blame to go around for the Green Bay Packers' NFC Championship Game loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January, and cornerback Kevin King certainly received his share.

But it wasn't until seven months later that King spoke about it for the first time.

King's appearance in the Lambeau Field media auditorium on Tuesday might finally be the last piece toward putting that stunning loss by the Packers to rest.

King didn't back down from his "quote-unquote 'failures'" -- as he put it -- that included:

* Mistiming his jump on Mike Evans' first-quarter touchdowns.

* Letting Scotty Miller get behind him on the 39-yard Hail Mary touchdown from Tom Brady with one second left in the first half -- a play in which coach Matt LaFleur and then-defensive coordinator Mike Pettine miscommunicated on when the defensive call was sent in.

* Committing a blatant pass interference penalty on third-and-4 with less than 2 minutes remaining that prevented Aaron Rodgers and the offense from ever getting the ball back with a shot to win.

All that as King, who was the Packers' top draft pick in 2017, was going into free agency.

"I'm not the type of guy that just tries to sweep s--- under the rug, you know [and then say] all right, let me get a fresh start somewhere,'" King said in his first sessions with reporters since the 2020 season ended. "No. I want to finish this with my guys, you know what I'm saying? The guys who've believed in me and the guys who continue to believe in me. And like I said, I'm going to do my part to uphold my side of the bargain, but ... we're here to win a Super Bowl."

King didn't offer any new information on the botched play call that ultimately led to LaFleur deciding not to renew Pettine's contract and hiring Joe Barry as defensive coordinator. And he certainly had nothing to do with LaFleur's decision to kick a field goal when down 8 points with 2 minutes to play or Rodgers getting only six points off three second-half interceptions of Brady.

However, King did cop to the penalty.

"I might have gotten a little bit of his shirt," King said.

The Packers somewhat surprisingly re-signed him to a one-year, $5 million deal that included a $3.75 million signing bonus.

"I think our value [of him] within our building is much higher maybe than public perception is out there," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. "He's a guy I have a lot of faith, a lot of confidence in. I think when he's healthy, he's really tough to deal with, his length when he challenges guys at the line of scrimmage and get his hands on them, that's a tough matchup for most wide receivers."

The "when he's healthy" part of LaFleur's answer is key. King missed 17 of a possible 32 regular-season games during his first two seasons. After playing in all but one game in 2019, he missed five games last season because of a quad injury. He reported for training camp this summer with a hamstring injury and did not come off the non-football injury list until 12 days ago.

In the meantime, the Packers used their first-round pick on another cornerback, Eric Stokes, who has taken more reps with the No. 1 defense than King.

However, on Tuesday, King showed why the Packers value him so much when he broke up a corner route that Rodgers and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have connected on time and again.

King didn't re-sign with the Packers until a couple of weeks into free agency but said "as long as the money was good," he had every intention of returning.

"You listen to all these guys who have the greatest success stories, they've all used those quote-unquote 'failures' as turning points," King said. "In their minds, as humans, it's kind of just evolving in that stage of life. So, I've challenged myself all offseason and continue to challenge myself to come out better from that situation, so quote-unquote 'failure,' that's just a word."