Not sure where to begin with this one. This was a day where the Packers, a team desperate for a win, needed to stand tall and make a statement. They needed to dispose of the 2-8 mess that is the Vikings and begin a late season push toward the playoffs. Instead we got a wildly uneven effort, punctuated by atrocious run defense and an inability by the secondary to turn over Christian Ponder.
Now, f the Packers want to get to the magical ten win mark, they have to win out. It’s that simple. With a golden chance to move into a tie for the division lead as they Lions and Bears imploded, the Packers were in position to do just that. When Matt Flynn entered the game midway through the third quarter it was as if he never left. He immediately found a rhythm with the offense and got the Packers back into the game.
I was shocked by Scott Tolzien’s ineffectiveness. I thought he was ready to break through and put together a solid performance. But after a nice first quarter drive, punctuated by his touchdown gallop, he was completely lost. Inaccurate passes, some bad decisions and a couple of drops by his receivers thrown in for good measure. Barring injury, we won’t see him again this season.
The QBs got plenty of assistance from the running game. Once again, Eddie Lacy was a bright spot on a frustrating day, finishing with 110 on the ground and 158 overall. The Pack rushed for 196 for the day, at an average of 5.8 per carry. Pretty good numbers. But the Vikings were even better, with 232 on the ground. The absence of Johnny Jolly was felt. AP’s brilliance I can understand. He’s the MVP. But when you let Toby Gerhart gash you for 11 yards per carry, yes, 11 yards per carry, you have no reason to hang your heads and wonder why you didn’t win. Eight carries for 91 yards. They couldn’t tackle him. At Lambeau, in a game they had to have. Inexcusable.
You look back and think about a couple of McCarthy decisions. Down 23-7, the Packers score early in the fourth quarter. Do you kick or go for two? I wasn’t second guessing the decision at the time, but that extra point would’ve looked awfully good at the end of regulation. More and more I’m starting to think you don’t chase the two points until the final six or seven minutes of the game.
Then there’s the third down call near the goal line in overtime. Yes, Lacy was stopped on second down, but I was calling for another try for the hard running rookie, who gave everything he had on this day and proved very difficult to bring down all day long. Instead, McCarthy called the fade, a touch pass thrown by a guy who hasn’t practiced much and certainly hasn’t worked much on that play with these receivers. If you want to throw it, why not try play action and roll Flynn to his right where he could have a few options at his disposal. It forced a field goal, giving the Vikings life. You knew the Packers weren’t going to stop them. And they didn’t.
At 5-5-1, the playoffs still feel like a long shot, despite being just 1/2 game out of the North lead. Does this feel like a team ready to win its last five? I don’t think so either. The playoffs don’t begin in Detroit on Thursday. But for all intents and purposes the Pack can’t afford another loss. If they’re without Shields and Jolly again on Thursday the defense will be stressed to keep up with the Lions. And if Rodgers is still in street clothes, the Pack will be major underdogs.
My hunch is Rodgers doesn’t play on Thursday. With or without him, they need to look like an entirely different team on Thanksgiving Day if they have any hopes of qualifying for the post season. Right now it’s feeling more and more like a ‘toast’ season.