Green Bay quarterback Brett Hundley called his four-turnover day against the Baltimore Ravens a “big-time learning game.”
The Packers are hoping he puts those lessons to good use, beginning with this weekend’s trip to Pittsburgh.
Hundley threw three interceptions and lost a fumble on Sunday, and Green Bay fell 23-0 to Baltimore in its first shutout loss in 11 years. He was sacked six times and completed 21 of 36 passes for 239 yards for a passer rating of 43.6.
But coach Mike McCarthy said he remains confident in Hundley, a 2015 fifth-round pick who has been Aaron Rodgers’ primary backup since last season.
“I’ll just say it again: I believe in Brett Hundley,” McCarthy said Monday morning, repeating a phrase he has used on a weekly basis since Rodgers broke his right collarbone Oct. 15 at Minnesota. “I believe in Brett Hundley as a quarterback, and I believe he will improve. And that’s where we are.”
Since a 4-1 start behind Rodgers, the Packers have dropped four of five to fall to .500 at 5-5. Eight teams are ahead of them in the playoff picture in the NFC, and they are two-touchdown underdogs entering Sunday night’s game against the 8-2 Steelers at Heinz Field.
The Packers thought Hundley might have turned a corner with two clutch fourth-quarter throws during a 23-16 victory at Chicago on Nov. 12, a 19-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams and a 42-yard third-down strike to Adams as the Packers tried to run out the clock.
But whatever progress he showed in that game was undone with a series of poor decisions against the Ravens. For the season, Hundley is now 96 of 158 (60.8 percent) for 940 yards with two touchdowns, seven interceptions and 17 sacks with a 63.2 rating.
“I can’t expect to be perfect,” Hundley said. “But at the end of the day, I can expect to be better than this. And I will be going forward.”
The Packers moved the ball effectively on the opening drive against Baltimore, only to see the possession end without points when veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith came off his man to bait Hundley into an interception on a throw for a seemingly wide-open Randall Cobb in the end zone. On the ensuing series, Hundley threw another interception, heaving a downfield pass while under duress that safety Eric Weddle easily brought in.
Later, Hundley lost a fumble on a sack and threw one last interception that led to the Ravens’ clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“I’ve just got to be better, no matter if that’s running or just making something happen out there,” Hundley said. “I felt like we had everything we wanted on offense (going into the game). I’ve got to take care of the ball.
“I can’t say I’ve never won a game with four, five turnovers, but the odds are stacked high against you. I’ve got to take care of the ball as the quarterback of this team. It shoots us in the foot when you throw two interceptions on the first two drives, and then the fumble, and then the interception at the end. That is hard to overcome as an offense, and as a quarterback I’ve got to better in that aspect of leading this offense.”