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By CHRIS HAVEL
Vikings, Lions improve to 6-4 as Green Bay drops to distant third
The Packers’ season is fading fast. The frustrating thing is that Green Bay seems powerless, or should I say defenseless, to do anything about it.
It’s as if Green Bay is mired in what’s become a four-game relay race: Three down and one to go Monday night at Philadelphia.
No matter how fast the Packers’ offense plays it can’t overcome team-wide deficiencies, shortcomings and incompetence.
The Redskins’ 42-24 rout of the Packers on Sunday night at FedEx Field, was spearheaded by Kirk Cousins, a quarterback who looked like he was playing for his next contract.
Cousins hit 21 of 30 passes for 375 yards, three touchdowns and a ridiculous 145.8 quarterback rating.
He took the baton from DeMarco Murray a week after the Titans’ running back went 75 yards off left tackle for a touchdown in the Packers’ 47-25 loss at Tennessee.
That thunderbolt struck a week after the Colts’ Jordan Todman took the baton on the opening kickoff and dashed 98 yards for a touchdown in Green Bay’s 31-26 loss at Lambeau Field.
“We’re just not putting it together for 60 minutes,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told reporters Sunday night.
Rodgers was being polite. The Packers can’t put it together for four quarters because it’s impossible to have the football the entire time. It’s especially pesky because the Packers have no discernible running attack.
“Obviously coming in here we knew we needed this game,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. “Our backs (are) up against it.”
On a windy night in Landover, the Packers played it close for a quarter, trailing just 7-0 through one.
That’s when the Packers’ offense, led by Rodgers and Jared Cook, began to show signs of life. Green Bay made it a tantalizingly close 29-24 game when the Redskins’ offense kicked it into high gear.
Cousins’ 70-yard bomb to Pierre Garcon with Ladarius Gunter beaten badly switched the script and stifled the Packers’ comeback hopes.
“On defense, we didn’t stop them,” McCarthy said. “Our pass defense didn’t get off the field. It was touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, field goal there I the second half.
“I think that tells the story.”
The Packers D
The Packers’ defense surrendered four plays of at least 44 yards in the second half, including a 66-yard run.
“Give the Redskins a lot of credit,” McCarthy said. “Kirk Cousins threw the ball on time pretty much most of the night. It starts with the pass rush. We have to get the quarterback off the spot. We gave up way too many big plays.”
The Packers’ lack of discipline also proved costly. Defensive lineman Mike Daniels drew a painful roughing-the-passer call that extended a Redskins’ scoring drive. The Packers’ performance was replete with other mistakes too numerous to recount here.
Naturally, any Packers’ loss triggers Green Bay’s second-favorite game: “Place the Blame.”
After Sunday night’s debacle, I’d have to say the Packers’ defense has been diluted to the point of no return. Injuries on the back end surely have been the defense’s demise.
So have Clay Matthews’ sporadic availability, Datone Jones’ and Nick Perry’s sporadic play, and Daniels’ foolishness.
“We’re not good enough to have penalties on third down,” McCarthy said. “We didn’t get off the field on third down.”
There’s that and so much more.
The notion that there’s a quick fix is wishful thinking. The Packers (4-6) have one shot to make the playoffs and that’s to win the woefully weak NFC North Division.
Green Bay trails Detroit (6-4) and Minnesota (6-4) in the division. The Lions host the Vikings in Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day game, so one is going to improve to 7-4.
The Redskins (6-3-1) are hanging tough in a very difficult NFC East, perhaps the NFL’s best division with Dallas (9-1), the New York Giants (6-3-1) and Philadelphia.
Looking ahead to Monday Night
Now, the Packers have to gear up for the Eagles, who are coached by ex-Packers quarterback Doug Pederson.
“We didn’t handle the injuries very well,” McCarthy said. “It’s tough, but it’s part of the game. We need to do a better job when guys get in there and step up.”
The Eagles will be playing for their post-season lives when the teams meet Monday night. With the Cowboys and Redskins playing on Thanksgiving, the Eagles will have a chance to gain ground on at least one team and perhaps two if the Giants lose.
Meantime, Green Bay is just trying to get a win. I’d look for McCarthy to pull out all the stops. A flea flicker, a reverse, a jet sweep, a halfback option pass … it all sounds like an opportunity to light a spark under the team.
It’s been awhile.
Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio (www.thefan1075.com). Havel also hosts Event USA’s MVP Parties the evening before home games. Also check out our new Podcast: Between the Lines for more Packers insights. New episodes every Wednesday.