You'll Hear No Outrage from the Head Cheese Following This Loss.Posted:Oct 31st, 2016 12:57 pm
I find it hard to get too down on the Pack for their last minute loss in Atlanta. For about 58 minutes, they made enough plays on both sides of the ball to beat a talented team, desperate to break a two game losing streak on their home field.
The defensive breakdown on Matt Ryan's game winning drive was obviously disappointing, highlighting the team's biggest shortcoming on this day: the lack of a pass rush. For most of the afternoon, Ryan had too much time to find an open receiver and on a day when the team was without its top three corners, the front seven needed to make plays and they failed.
If you would have told me before the game that Julio Jones would be held to 29 yards receiving, Devonta Freeman would only gain 35 yards on the ground and the Pack would put up 32 points, I would have said 'that's the recipe for a win.' But the defense couldn't make a stop, or a big play on that final drive and lost Mohammad Sanu in the end zone --and that was all she wrote.
I take issue with Bob McGinn's story, ripping Rodgers for not bringing the Pack back at the end. Sure, with 29 seconds and two timeouts it was possible to lead the team into field goal range--they did it before the half--but the odds are still against it. Not to mention, the injuries among the offensive skill players made for a challenging day on that side of the ball and Adams and Nelson appeared gassed.
For my money, this was Rodgers' best game of the season, especially considering the circumstances. He missed a few throws and took a sack or two that he didn't need to, but for the most part he did enough with his arm and legs to win this game.
After scoring 24 points in the first half, the Pack scored just once after intermission, continuing a pattern we saw in the previous game. This offense is stressed right now, with no legitimate running game and two key receivers (Cobb and Montgomery) out. The tight end position has become a rumor--no catches for Rodgers or Perillo. I don't remember either of those guys even getting any throws their way. Let's hope this is the last time #12 leads the team in rushing.
We saw Trevor Davis make big plays in the return game and as a receiver. We saw Geronimo Allison score in his first game as a Packer. We saw Jordy Nelson get involved in big plays early (though he disappeared for the most part after that) and we saw Davante Adams follow up his player of the week performance with another strong game. No, the offense was not the problem on this day.
The blame ultimately falls on the defense, which as I said earlier, played decent for 58 minutes. Yes, the unit was missing Clay Matthews, but there is enough depth at outside linebacker and on the D-line to be more disruptive in the passing game and they didn't get it done at the end.
But I'm not ripping my hair out over this loss. Yeah, yeah, I know...what hair? This one might prove costly as playoff seeding is determined, but they lost on a busted play in the final minute on the road to a likely division champ. Rodgers is playing at the level we would he'd play at and this team has to get healthier as the weeks go by.
I said leading up to this one that I thought a 3-2 record over this five game stretch would be acceptable and I figured this would be one of the two losses. They played better than I expected--good enough to win--but came up short. If they take care of business against the woeful Colts at Lambeau and then at Tennessee, they'll need to split their prime time road tests in Washington and Philly to get there. If they come out of this stretch at 7-4, they'll still be in position to accomplish all of their goals.
So go ahead: blame Rodgers, Capers, or whoever you want. I look at it as a tough loss to a talented team that made one more play than the Pack made. Simple as that. Injuries are a convenient excuse, sure, but playing against this team without seven starters and coming this close makes me feel more hopeful than disgusted.