By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
Disappointment in Green Bay’s 31-23 setback to Lions
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Disappointment aplenty – Green Bay’s performance included fumbles, foibles and bloopers, and once again questionable officiating. Ultimately, the Packers’ 31-23 loss at Detroit had to make you laugh, if for no other reason than it hurt too much to cry. How do you roll up twice the yardage of your opponent, 521 to 264 yards, get 30 first downs to 18, win the time of position battle by a large margin, never punt once, and still lose the game?
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Easy, you fumble the ball away three times deep in your own territory, and miss five field goals or extra point tries, leaving 13 points off the board.
Seriously, who’s going to suggest cutting Mason Crosby? I’m not. His record speaks for itself. This is not some rookie who is awed by the pressure of the NFL and misses a bunch of kicks (recall the Vikings at Packers game of just a few weeks ago). It’s the great ones that manage to avoid being released afterward.
But Crosby explored almost every way to miss a kick. He was wide left. He was wide right. He hit the left upright. He hit the right upright. At some point, he changed his kicking shoe. He was snake-bit yesterday. But a mini-trend is possibly developing? It is worth noting that Crosby missed a 52-yard attempt at the end of regulation that would’ve won the Minnesota game, and he also missed a PAT last week.
But, I’m thinking Crosby will rebound. He’s done it before.
So who’s pinning this one on Aaron Rodgers and his lost fumbles?
Not me. In fact, I’m skipping the whole “blame placing” thing this week. It’s too obvious. It’s too easy. There’s too much to go around.
What I can’t do is dismiss this as “just one of those games.” They’ve had three “just one of those games” already this season. The Packers showed up in a daze again Sunday. They played in a fog for the first half, and by the time it lifted, it was too late.
That is becoming a tired refrain. The Packers are prone to playing one bad half, often the first half, followed by one good half, likely the second half.
Way too often one of two storylines emerges:
** The Packers rally for a great win or settle for a so-so tie;
** The Packers fall short, unable to climb out of a hole too big.
There are many reasons for it, including really poor decision-making, and I’m not just talking about the coach. Lately, it’s as if the Packers have been beset by an onslaught of brain-cramp. If they took a “Football IQ” exam right now they’d probably flunk.
Coaches are control freaks. They dislike the things they can’t control. What drives them really insane is when the things they believe (falsely?) that they can control go belly-up.
Things like the snap, the hold and the kick. Things like the quarterback realizing he’s out of time before he gets hit and fumbles. Things like fielding the punt or at least making dang sure your teammates are out of harm’s way if you don’t. Things like being an undrafted free agent cornerback, and finally making a play, only to keep the drive alive by drawing a taunting penalty for acting like a punk.
It’s got to stop.
“A disappointing division loss,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters. “We did too many things we couldn’t overcome.”
This loss was all about the Packers and McCarthy knows it. There was nothing captivating, mesmerizing or hypnotic about Detroit. In fact, it looked like the same old Lions to me: All silver, blue and blah.
Matthew Stafford completed 14 of 26 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Nothing earth shattering there, but he avoided any big mistakes. Stafford’s key contribution was zero turnovers.
Kerryon Johnson rushed 12 times for 70 yards before leaving with an injury. LeGarrette Blount was held to 22 yards on 12 carries but managed to rush for two touchdowns anyway.
The Lions were good enough to take what Green Bay gave them, which was over 20 points on mistakes, and win with it by 8 points. The scary thing is that a team more accomplished than the Lions might’ve taken what the Packers generously gave and won by 30 points. And let me tell you, there are some very much more accomplished teams coming up on the Packers’ schedule real soon.
Aaron Rodgers was beaten up again. Still, he completed 32 passes in 52 attempts for 442 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also was sacked four times and he fumbled twice.
“I gave (the Lions) 10,” Rodgers told reporters. “We missed some field goals, obviously, had a turnover on the 1-yard line. You put that all together and that’s a lot of points we gave them.” The Packers trailed 24-0 at the half and could’ve closed to within 10 in the 3rd quarter, but missed the PAT.
“Obviously (Crosby’s) disappointed,” Rodgers, ever the diplomat, said. “I don’t think he expected this. We have a ton of faith in him. He’s done it for a long time, made some big kicks over the years.”
The stat sheet shows that the Packers rolled up a lot of passing yards. Davante Adams had nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown despite playing with a sore calf.
Rookie receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling had seven catches for 68 yards and a touchdown. Fellow rookie receiver Equanimeous St. Brown had three catches for 89 yards, including a nifty catch-and-run late.
Jimmy Graham had six catches but it took 11 targets and netted 76 yards.
If you just looked at the stats sheet, and those numbers in particular, you might’ve said the Packers must’ve won by a bunch of points. Not.
“It’s frustrating,” Rodgers said, and added this understatement: “We’ve been kind of a one-half team: one good half and one not-so-good half. You know, I was a little off. I missed a couple I usually hit. If I hit Davante on that first drive he might score on a crossing route. They dropped him. Yeah, we missed some opportunities there. (It was) definitely a disjointed game: not punting, putting up a lot of offense and not winning the game.”
Indeed, the Packers’ offense never got on track, at least without plenty of hiccups. The run game had an inconsequential, after-the-fact feel to it. The yards-per-carry is a strong 5-yards plus, but the number of attempts is way too low. It just seems like the most dynamic running weapon they have, Aaron Jones, is inexplicably underused. The guy starts out like a house on fire, and then gets relegated to no touches. Also, the Packers surrendered four sacks again to continue at a bad pace.
The Packers committed a ton of penalties. They had 12 penalties for 112 yards and three turnovers. It’s becoming a trend lately. “We’re five games into it,” McCarthy said. “I didn’t care for some of the things we know we can do better. At the end of the day it’s about winning and we didn’t do enough to win today.”
Amen, Coach. Amen. Here’s hoping that the Packers can snap out of this funk they are in. We know that they’re better than this. They just have to start believing it themselves, and act like it.