Packers XLV

Cold Hard Facts: The Better Team Won

Posted January 6th, 2014 @ 02:01am

Let's face it. The better team won at Lambeau. As usual in games like these, it's easy to point to one play (the Micah Hyde potential pick), but the 49ers were the superior team on this day and during this season and they are moving on.

It's disappointing, because we didn't see enough of Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb this season. We wanted more. It felt like the kind of team that could get stronger as the playoffs wore on and be a dangerous road team. Instead, the 49ers defense and the legs of Colin Kaepernick were just a bit too tough. The Pack converted on just three of eleven third downs; San Fran was six for twelve. The third down conversion that sealed it featured a Jarrett Bush mental lapse (stop me if you've heard this before) and Kaepernick danced down the left sideline, allowing Phil Dawson to exhale. His team was now in range for him on this unpredictable day.

As for Kaepernick, once again his legs were the difference. A near 100 yard rushing day for him was the difference. Until the Pack can figure him out, they'll be in Aikman-Emmitt-Irvin 1990's purgatory.

Three plays later, facing a third and three and the clock winding down, everyone knew Gore was getting it, yet the defense couldn't stop him. That play was a microcosm of too many fourth down situations this season.

But you can't criticize Dom Capers and his defense for this performance. Not from where I'm sitting. He's down Matthews to start and then loses Sam Shields and Mike Neal on the first series. Andy Mulumba and Davon House were also in and out with injuries. Yet his unit kept the team in the game, dead even with five minutes to go. Yes, there were some letdowns on the final five-minute drive, but the defense did enough on this day to win.

This loss is really on the offense. Settling for a game tying field goal late when they had first and goal sealed their fate. The Niners have the league's best red zone defense and they demonstrated why on the Pack's final drive. First, they had to burn a timeout. That was a bad omen.

They opened with a run by Cobb that fooled no one for no gain; second and goal from the nine. Next, with Bakhtiari out with a concussion and Marshall Newhouse playing left tackle, Rodgers was getting a little jumpy. He got flushed out of the pocket, rolled to his right and threw it out of the end zone. Third and goal from the nine, plenty of time, but no one open and Rodgers is forced to scramble for a few yards. Holding is declined and in came Crosby. The Pack never came close to punching it in.

After the 49ers settled for field goals early in the game, the Pack had to settle late and it gave the Niners all the chance they needed to answer and punch their ticket to the divisional round. The Pack owned the Niners in the mid-90s. They're getting even this decade. Maybe next year it's our turn for the Young to T.O. miracle to go our way. This year it wasn't in the cards.

A couple of things to grumble about. James Jones, why were you out there? Didn't look like you wanted to be. Couldn't hold on to anything. Micah Hyde, you were a revelation this season. Your play at corner and return skills were sorely needed. But, oh man, you get that pick and the Pack is moving on. Not to mention you would have helped me nail my prediction of a late Kapernick mistake sealing it. So close.

There's work to be done, but as it stands right now the Pack will enter next season favored to win their fourth straight division title. We'll expect them to last a couple weekends longer at least. Some significant roster changes on defense and a little more luck with injuries should give them a shot.

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Comments (15):

The play that Jarrett Bush didn't make is one I've seen time and time again from this year's team- SET THE EDGE!! Your defensive help is inside that edge and when defensive discipline breaks down, the Packers suffer. That's why the Pack won last week - Peppers couldn't SET THE EDGE with the block Kuhn pulled off. It's less about personnel than it is about individual breakdowns over the TEAM concept of playing defense. Watch the plays where the shut Gore down - the edge is SET and he is forced back into defensive help. It ain't Rocket Science.

on January 5th, 2014 at 08:23pm

From my perspective, I was very encouraged by the increase in physicality (especially on the offensive side) during this season. For the second time this year, we largely held the vaunted 49er power ground game in check. Lacy is simply spectacular, and giving him the occasional break with Starks is probably a good idea for next year as well. However, I think that there is more physicality needed along the defensive front, and certainly more speed and power needed from the backers. Was wondering throughout the game why there was no "spy" on Kaepernick as we did in the opener in SF. Then it came to me- we had Matthews do it. Who was going to be able to run with that guy during today's game? Hawk? Mulumba (on a bad wheel late)? Jones? Still, feeling optimistic. As one of only two NFL teams to make the playoffs the last five years, the Pack should be able to make it six next year. Again, from a historical perspective, it's nice when just making the playoffs isn't near enough. Remember those 70's and 80's everybody?

on January 5th, 2014 at 09:52pm

I'm not one for moral victories, that would make me a Viking fan, but the Pack, with their injuries and MIA players, played tougher than any sportscaster on any channel predicted. This team showed great ability even though those playing were 3rd or 4th stringers. This team, with it's healthy players back in the lineup next year is going upward while other teams with big payouts coming are going the other direction. Davey, you also need to lay off Jones, the catches he dropped would need to be circus catches that he normally pulls off. Those catches can't be considered the norm.

on January 5th, 2014 at 10:06pm

Yes, the game was in character for the season. The Packers had at least 4 starters leave with injuries during the game, the 49ers, I don't believe ,had any. And there were missed tackles, dropped passes and interceptions, assignment breakdowns. What we saw repeatedly during the year, with and without Aaron Rodgers. The dream may not be dead but illusions about the defense and o-line personnel now should be shattered. Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy now have a whole offseason to get things straightened out and have the Pack on the way back next season.

on January 6th, 2014 at 04:54am

Dan P. , I remember the 70's and 80's very well. Never on national t.v. and no winning seasons except '72. What a pleasure to finally watch an old school football game where the players were allowed to play. House got away with a couple. Thankful for a competitive game even without the "W" against the likely Super Bowl champ. Thanks Dave for the Radio program and will check back on this site for your insites during the off season, Slainte!!!

on January 6th, 2014 at 05:56pm

Yeah, if Hyde pulls in that interception, this game ends different. Yeah, that would have been a tough play. The moment the wind went out of my sails is when I saw Newhouse step onto the field. I know we still scored some points after that, but I have no confidence in that man.

on January 6th, 2014 at 08:21am

I think the defense played admirably in this game, down several men. I don't think Bush taking the outside route on that long run would have mattered. Bush was engaged and wasn't making the play regardless. Kaepernick would have simply stepped inside, then outside as Bush was pushed further into the backfield. This game notwithstanding, it's time for Dom Capers to move on. This defense has not shown significant improvement since the NY Giants beatdown after the 15-1 season. It's time for a young 3-4 coordinator to inject some new life into this team. Keep the 3-4 because we've been drafting for it for 5 years now, but we need a new leader on defense.

on January 6th, 2014 at 08:45am

hey Paul from Eagan go outside and let those bitter tears freeze. and there is your dagger!

on January 6th, 2014 at 09:13am

Yes, 2 or 3 plays makes the difference... As a Viking fan , I can watch several of our losses and turn them into victories with 2 or 3 plays as can the rest of the NFL can.. I am not a fan of the Pack but I have too hand it to you for making a game out of what limited players you were left with ..and oh yes... you have Rogers for another 10 years so don't worry...

on January 6th, 2014 at 09:23pm

Right on Dave. The better team won, but we could have snuck out of there with a win if we make a couple of those plays. I think if we had a spy on CK the entire game, it's a different outcome. But, as mentioned, there was no one capable. Regarding James Jones, and it's easy for me sitting in the comfort of my living room, but I thought he could have caught at least one of those two. I got a feeling Cobb or Jordee would have. I love Jones but dang, that would have been nice! On the bright side, we got one of the top RB's in the league for years to come. Lacy is the man.

on January 6th, 2014 at 09:39am

on January 6th, 2014 at 10:58am

As I said on the pregame post....who wins third downs wins game. Pack had issues on both sides. The first quarter play calling on the first three drives was mindboggingl. MM must of had a brain freeze thinking he still had Flynn at QB and not Rodgers. It kind of set a early tempo of trying to stay close instead of Rodgers like Dagger plays. The weather did not determine this MM did. That said the game went like a microcosm of the season. The defense allowing long sustained drives. The defense is in incredible need of playmakers. This is why we have this site to discuss the future moves from all of us armchair TT's. Stay warm !! As always...GO PACK GO !!

on January 6th, 2014 at 10:59am

I have to say I feel encouraged about what I saw . Of course it hurt not getting it done, and the offense struggling like it did. But the offense will be fine for years to come. The defense played well at times this year and in this game now its time for consistency on that side of the ball. Hey, we really were just one play away, we were a lot more plays away a year ago!

on January 6th, 2014 at 11:26am

Great game to watch, but, like normal, 2-3 plays make the outcome. I said 6 weeks ago sign Shields, if he was on crabtree, game would have been very different. sign the MAN. how close was 38 to picking off ck in the end zone? they only got three but that was pickable, how do u like that word? Tramon has played a lot better the last 5 weeks though, play like that and he can stay. I did say when Hyde couldn't come down with the pick, that may haunt us. and it did, but that was a high pass and tough, he played great this year as a rookie.. but that was at the 30, they still had to drive 40 more yards to get in reach. I will say, no one on this blog has said more that capers should be gone after last year, but this was not on him, those were scrambles by a good player with speed. they were not from not practicing against the read option like last year. way to many injuries as I said 4 weeks ago to win a super bowl. but, I'm proud to be a packer fan the way they played. missing 5 guys on D, and we really missed finley yesterday. where was 81? when they play 2 safetys back and want u to run, the middle should be open for the TE, did 81 catch a pass? need to draft one of them too. as far as Jones, u have to make that long catch, it hit his hemet, let him go and draft a wr in 3rd round, I think his contract is up. draft a safety or go after Bird from the bills and get healthy with a new conditioning coach, and we will be fine. did some one say here last week the team that scores 24 would win?who was that? go packers

on January 6th, 2014 at 11:36am

I decided to wait a couple days before posting, and I'm happy to see that one topic didn't come up...that being "fire the coaching staff". I saw no evidence that anyone of the coaching should be relieved of his duties, although it is inevitable coaches will be pilfered by other teams, and those vacancies will need to be filled. And yes, that includes Dom Capers, who did a fantastic job of keeping the Packers in the game, with starters going down left and right (essentially all season long), and being close to completely gassed by mid 4th quarter dealing with 0 degee weather. Assuming they stick with the 3-4, they are going to be looking for more help at OLB, safety, and hopefully Perry and Jones will develop into quality 1st rounders. It sure would have been great if they got the TD instead of the FG on their last drive, but if Hyde could've hauled in that pick - that was the game changer right there. It was still a good season no matter how you slice it, and yes, I did dig the drama. I hope you did too.

on January 7th, 2014 at 02:57pm

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