GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers didn’t have much to say about Nick Fairley Tuesday.
Or did he?
The Green Bay Packers quarterback kept his comments to a minimum when asked Tuesday about a few plays involving the Detroit Lions defensive tackle, but Rodgers might’ve said more about him in his comments about Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, who won’t play in Sunday’s game at Soldier Field.
Asked during his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN and ESPNWisconsin.com Tuesday if he was happy that Urlacher won’t play, Rodgers replied, “I am disappointed; I like him being out there. I enjoy the competition with him; it’s a competitive rivalry that exists between our teams and between him and I individually. I enjoy the banter back and forth and enjoy the way he plays the game.
“I think he plays the game hard within the rules and he’s a heck of a competitor, who has picked me off a couple too many times. I wish him the best and hope he gets healthy. He has been playing really well this year, that’s impressive to see because he has been around for a while.”
Rodgers didn’t have nearly as many words when asked about Fairley, who had a few shots on Rodgers that did not draw penalties but might have been borderline hits.
The first came on a third-and-2 scramble by Rodgers in the first quarter, when he felt he slid in plenty of time but took a hit from Fairley from behind. NBC’s replays showed Fairley’s facemask appeared to make contact with Rodgers’ helmet.
Asked if he slid late on the play, Rodgers replied, “I don’t think so. I think not only was I sliding, but I was in the sliding body language pretty early there once I got past the first down.
“I felt some contact to my head. I’m not sure who it was from or what part of the body it was but I was just happy to get the first down. In a situation like that, I slid at the earliest possible time I could making sure we got the first down, and I felt like I gave everyone around me enough time to realize that I was sliding. But sometimes you’re going to take some contact like that. Matthew (Stafford) had a similar play when he slid and (Packers linebackers Erik) Walden and (Dezman) Moses hit him. Sometimes when you slide, you’re still going to get hit.”
Late in the game, Rodgers overshot Greg Jennings in the end zone and the Packers had to settle for a field goal, and after Rodgers released the ball, NBC’s replays appeared to show Fairley smacking him in the face. No penalty was called on the play.
Iin between those two plays, Fairley was seen throwing Rodgers to the ground by his neck after he'd gotten rid of the ball. No penalty was called on that one, either.
“Not that I remember,” Rodgers said.
Fairley also had Rodgers in a bear hug in the teams' first meeting in Detroit on Nov. 18 but chose not to throw him to the ground.
Rodgers did draw a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty Sunday night on Ndamukong Suh, when Suh shoved him well after he’d thrown the ball on the Packers’ first possession of the second half. While it didn’t look like a violent hit in any way, referee Tony Corrente explained over the microphone that Suh made contact after taking two steps, which is a penalty.
The push was one of two such calls in the game; Packers safety Morgan Burnett continued the defense’s run of personal fouls with a close call on a helmet-to-helmet hit on wide receiver Calvin Johnson
“I think in the case of our defenders, the officials are definitely erring on the side of safety. I’m not sure if every one of those hits is accompanied by a fine that gets held up, but they’re definitely really trying to take care of players who aren’t able to see the hit coming,” Rodgers said.
“As far as quarterbacks are concerned, that’s always been a point of emphasis, especially the last four or five years of making sure that we’re able to avoid some of those unnecessary hits. The rule even when they didn’t take care of quarterbacks like they did today was always one step. You get one step and get to hit. I think there might be a misnomer that a late push is not as unnecessary as a late tackle. But Tony Corrente obviously thought that it was unnecessary roughness.”
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