Packers XLV

A Season Defining Win Slips Through the Packers' Hands.

Posted October 29th, 2018 @ 01:10pm

It took until Halloween weekend, but the Packers finally showed us the team we thought they could be on Sunday, serving up treats all afternoon, only to be done in by a trick at the hands of their special teams.

It was set up just the way you want it: the Packers defense, aided by some conservative Rams play calling, had forced a field goal to put the ball back in Aaron Rodgers' hands, down by two, with two minutes to go. We've all seen this act before. There was little doubt he would be able to put the team in position to swipe the game with a last second field goal by Mason Crosby.

But on a day when the offense and defense not only held their own, but outplayed the Rams, it was special teams that sealed the Pack's fate. From the late second quarter punt that put the Pack inside their own one, to a lousy afternoon by punter JK Scott, to the unpardonable sin by Ty Montgomery (not the fumble, but rather not taking a knee and letting the offense get to work from the 25), it added up to just enough errors to hand LA the victory.

The biggest revelation on this afternoon was the play of Mike Pettine's defense. Where has that been all season? They made the decision to move Jaire Alexander from the slot to the outside to deal with the speedy Brandin Cooks and Jared Goff tested him all day. The precocious rookie was up to the challenge, deflecting five passes and sticking to him like glue. If he can stay healthy, he can be a huge difference maker for a secondary that sorely needs it.

The Packers confused Jared Goff for much of the game, sacking him five times--he had been sacked only seven times all season leading up to this game. Kenny Clark, Blake Martinez, Clay Matthews, Kyler Fackrell--they all had big moments and made Goff look nothing like the MVP candidate he is. Sure, Goff and Gurley got things rolling in the second half, but the defense showed it was up to the challenge and that's a great sign with three more tough road games coming up.

On offense, Mike McCarthy finally gave Aaron Jones the start and he got the offense going right out of the gate. Still, he only had 12 carries for the day, as McCarthy continues to believe Jamal Williams and Montgomery deserve their reps. That thinking needs to end. Montgomery brings absolutely nothing to the table and Williams should serve as nothing more than a change of pace option, when Jones needs a breather.

The offensive line did their job, keeping the vaunted Rams pass rush away from Rodgers for most of the afternoon, and the young receivers stepped up when their numbers were called, to ensure the Rams couldn't focus all of their attention on Davante Adams, who had yet another great afternoon.

It was a great setting, with more than half the stadium filled with Packer fans, audible "Go Pack Go" chants when Goff faced third downs, forcing him to use a silent count at his own stadium. And for most of the afternoon, it felt like the Pack was going to rise up and snatch an upset win. Obviously, the safety changed all the momentum, turning a 10-0 lead late in the second quarter to a 10-8 lead at halftime. It felt at the time like the Pack had blown a golden opportunity to take a commanding lead over the best team in football at their place.

It was a Packers performance we've been waiting to see all season. Only two penalties. No turnovers, until the final, fateful kickoff, a defensive intensity and an offensive gameplan that was up to the challenge, despite some strange play calling, particularly in the second quarter.

It showed that, when healthy, this team can compete with anyone. But they cannot afford to let down against lesser competition. The slow start to the season erased any wiggle room in the playoff race, and while three teams in the North are saddled with three losses, the Packers know that their three road games in the next month will likely define the fate of their season.

Shame on the Packers for not addressing the returner position when Trevor Davis went on IR. Using Montgomery and Tramon Williams is basically like saying, we'll be happy if they merely take care of the football. On this day, they weren't even up to that challenge. Maybe Davis will get activated this week, maybe not. But for a team that expects to compete for Super Bowls as long as Rodgers is healthy, the Pack swung and missed on making their special teams as dynamic as possible.

And on this day, it cost them.

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Comments (9):

The packers playing their best couldn’t beat the rams playing at their worst. Rams were missing one of their best receivers and were playing lethargic. This packer team will be lucky to get to 9 wins.

on October 29th, 2018 at 05:49pm

Long-time cheesehead from Manitowoc transplanted to Minnesota, first-time trying to comment but I've always appreciated the direct commentary here on our beloved Green and Gold. I'll admit, I wasn't expecting the Pack to be competitive in this game. Rodgers can say they knew they could play with anyone, but they haven't shown that. Defense was a pleasant surprise and Alexander looked electric, but how stubborn is McCarthy with this run game? Obviously 12 meant 88 didn't lose the game because they should have taken advantage of opportunities to expand their 1st half lead, and leveraging Jones' 7.2 yrd/carry avg would have helped. Also, what does Rodgers have to do to get a hands to the face penalty called (I think it was on a failed 3rd down in the 2nd quarter)? Exciting to see the Packers run with one of the best, but hard to not feel disappointed that this offense still isn't working well enough together to tip the scales.

on October 29th, 2018 at 09:31am

Full disclosure - huge Packer fan here. I'm a little surprised by the optimism I've been hearing. We must remember, this team had 2 weeks to prepare. Yes, defense was real good, but wore down in the 2nd half, and that offense still struggled; and even if #88 doesn't fumble, we're hoping for another late game, heroic effort from #12. You might sneak into the playoffs w/that kind of play, maybe. But you'll never go deep in the postseason with this team. McCarthy is beyond the hot seat, his play calling is just plain blah. That safety late in the 1st half completely changed the momentum. Sorry, but the season was over after the Redskins game, but certainly after the Chiefs game. Buffalo doesn't count.

on October 29th, 2018 at 10:47am

Pack got bit bye one of there own... Ty Montgemery

on October 29th, 2018 at 12:06pm

Like I said last night. Ty should have been waived the minute the wheels touched down. If Belichick ran this team Ty would be gone. If bill ran this team Ty would know what the hell to do. That was the dumbest football decision I have seen this season. It defies all logic. If I were Aaron I would never allow Ty to touch the ball ever again. I would not hand it off or throw it to him until McCarthy got rid of him. You can't win with idiots and that includes McCarthy.

on October 29th, 2018 at 12:30pm

Chins up, Gang. This one was penciled in as a probable loss before the season even started. The Packers went in as a Buffalo-esque underdog. What we saw was a Packer playoff team. They stood toe to toe with the league's last unbeaten and current presumptive NFC Super Bowl favorite. But like so many of their playoff games they lost it as missed opportunities, coaching decisions and play calling and in the end a catastrophic mistake by an individual not with the plan added up to a 2 point defeat. The Packers looked good enough to win most of their games this year. Not last Sunday and not the next. But in plenty of others remaining. Like I said before, ride out this stretch. If the Packers play competitively, avoid injuries and get some help from others - which they did this week from Seattle & N'Awlins - they can still make the playoffs with a strong finish over the last 5-6 games. On balance the Packers met expectations on Sunday.

on October 31st, 2018 at 05:19am

1/2 a game out of first place with 9 games to go, and people are saying the Pack is done? Give me a break. Yogi Berra was right.

on October 31st, 2018 at 08:16am

The cause for concern here isn't this single loss. For me it has been a slow evolution of Rodger's play. We don't see the same communication with the wide receivers at the line. We don't see the blitz getting picked up. The percentage of play he has to bail on and throw away is up and too high. This is OC and QB coach stuff. I think Rodgers misses having a fullback. I'm also totally fine with the moves made at the trade deadline. It was better than cutting them.

on October 31st, 2018 at 10:07am

Pack are done. Defense sucks, FatCarthy refuses to run the ball despite the team doing so fairly successfully. MacFarty's gone at the end of the year if not earlier. Front office sucks. Mouth breathing Pack fans should get used to being mediocre.

on October 31st, 2018 at 11:28am

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