Rodgers, LaFleur defend MVS after fumble in OT

Rodgers, LaFleur defend MVS after fumble in OT

Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s fumble on the second play of overtime to set up the Indianapolis Colts’ game-winning field goal came just moments after the Green Bay Packers’ receiver hauled in a 47-yard deep ball from Aaron Rodgers that led to the game-tying field goal in the final seconds of regulation.

That’s Valdes-Scantling in a nutshell: an electrifying catch deep down the field one play and a maddening mistake the next.

“I know he’s really hurting right now,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said after Sunday’s 34-31 loss. “He made so many plays for us and not only in the pass game but in the run game, stuff that you guys probably don’t even notice that we’re not getting the yardage that we get if he’s not blocking his ass off.

“So I can live with MVS. I’ve got more confidence in him now than probably ever. I think he continues to get better each and every day. Every time we go out there, he’s providing big plays.”

Although Valdes-Scantling had only three catches for 55 yards, LaFleur pointed to the pass interference penalty that he drew late in the second quarter that set up a touchdown to give the Packers a 28-14 halftime lead. It was a 51-yard penalty on Colts cornerback Rock Ya-Sin.

“I can live with MVS, and we’re going to continue to live with him and just hope that he can continue to get better and better and better,” LaFleur said. “And I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him.”

Rodgers professed something similar.

“I have a lot of love for Marquez,” said Rodgers, who threw a swing pass to Valdes-Scantling in the left flat on the second play of overtime, only to see the ball knocked away by Julian Blackmon and recovered by DeForest Buckner. “I see the guy every single day, see how much he cares about it. It happens, unfortunately. A lot of it is fundamentals, carrying the ball, but I’ve had my fair share of fumbles. It was just bad timing, obviously. … But that stuff happens. He made a big play at the end of regulation to kind of get us going on third-and-10. Disappointed for him, disappointed for us.”

Valdes-Scantling, who was not made available for postgame interviews, said in a tweet that he received death threats after the game but noted that his team had his back.

It was Valdes-Scantling’s first career fumble in 42 games, but he has been plagued by drops and missed opportunities. He came into the game ranked 152nd among 153 qualified receivers in catch percentage (50%), according to ESPN Stats & information. He was below 50% until he caught four of his six targets against the Jaguars last week, and he ranks second among qualified receivers in drops (five).

The Packers were hoping that he’d be more consistent after his previous two games — four catches for 133 yards against the Jaguars and two touchdowns the previous game against the 49ers. Instead, it was another overtime game in which Rodgers barely got a chance to work some of the magic he did at the end of regulation, though there were questions about the last field goal drive and why he spiked the ball twice instead of taking another shot or two at the end zone.

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