Packers Hang Tough, But Fail When It Matters Most

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Matt Flynn

Flynn looked capable in his first NFL start, but it wasn't enough.

The Green Bay Packers played the best team in the NFL and played better football than them for three quarters with a backup quarterback.

Unfortunately, professional football is a four-quarter game.

The Packers faltered down the stretch and allowed the New England Patriots to pull out a 31-27 victory on their home field. With the loss, the Packers can pretty much kiss any shot of winning the NFC North goodbye.

Matt Flynn played better than anyone expected in his first career start. Flynn finished 24-of-37 for 251 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. While he played a solid game overall, Flynn occasionally showed his inexperience. In the end, he, and coach Mike McCarthy, showed ineptitude.

The Packers were able to drive the ball inside the New England 30-yard line for what could have been the go-ahead score, but with the clock running down and no time outs, the Packers dilly dallied around as the clock wound down from more than 20 seconds to nothing. If they had been prepared, the Packers may have been able to get off 3-4 plays, assuming they picked up the first down on fourth-and-1, instead of the one play they did get off.

That failure is on the coaching staff.

Although the Packers were well prepared to face the Patriots, the game is a microcosm of the season. The Packers, under McCarthy, cannot break through and get an elite win. A victory over the Patriots would have been huge. Instead, the Packers managed to do exactly what they’ve done in each of their six losses, this season — fall a few points short.

Frankly, it’s time to question if McCarthy is the guy to lead this team.

The Packers seem to do just enough to be able to lose, but not enough to take the next step and become an elite team. The Packers’ defense left several opportunities on the table, but overall, played a solid game, despite giving up 31 points.

Linebacker Desmond Bishop had a particularly solid game, with seven tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Nose tackle B.J. Raji also played well and finished with four tackles and two sacks.

Erik Walden, making his first NFL start in place of Frank Zombo, finished with four tackles.

The Packers’ defense was able to limit Tom Brady to 163 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, the Packers out gained the Patriots 369 to 249 yards.

Part of the reason for the yardage disparity was that the Packers finally were able to establish a running game. Brandon Jackson gained 99 yards on 22 carries. Overall, the Packers gained 143 yards on the ground.

It was the first time this season the Packers actually made a concerted effort to run the football and the results were surprisingly positive. Of course, while the offensive line decided to show up and block for the running game after basically shitting their collective beds in last week’s loss to Detroit, they didn’t bother to pass block.

While Flynn’s inexperience played some part, the Packers ended up giving up five sacks on the night to a worse-than-average Patriots defense.

Rookie right tackle Bryan Bulaga played especially poorly. Bulaga doesn’t seem to be improving as you’d expect him to and his mental errors and ineffectiveness continue to plague the Packers.

Bulaga isn’t the story, though.

Despite seemingly doing enough to win the game and establish themselves as one of the top teams in the NFC, the Packers instead managed to let a few errors turn the tide of the game, giving the 12-2 Patriots all they needed to win.

About The Author

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

18 Comments on "Packers Hang Tough, But Fail When It Matters Most"

  1. Monty, You need to realize the impact of your statements. McCarthy coached this game well. Most people, including you thought that this game would be a blowout Patriots victory, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t, even though McCarthy was forced to game plan with a no name QB, a terrible offensive line, awful rushing attack, and a battered defense. Going up against the best team in the NFL, I’d say he did a great job. On a side note, Dom also did a good job, as we contained them better than the Jets and the Bears combined.

  2. Because of you, fans are up in arms about firing McCarthy, who did a great job. GET A GRIP, DON’T BLAME THE COACH FOR THE PACKERS’ LACK OF TACKLING ABILITY!

  3. iltarion

    I thought everyone said the Packers would get blown out? Wrong.

    I thought the Packers had no running game? Wrong.

    I am SO sick of hearing about that. There is a difference between not being able to run and CHOOSING to not run. Nice to see MM actually make a commitment to it.

    Its another loss so everyone can go ahead and talk out of their ass. The fact of the matter is this coaching staff, except ass-hat Shawn Slocum, deserves a hell of a lot of credit for getting this team to battle and believe it can win every single week this season. This team was playing without its starting QB, its starting RB, without its best receiving threat, without its starting right tackle, and with 4 frickin starters out on defense, and yet still outplayed the supposed best team in the league in its own house.

    What other team has played the best team in the AFC (Pats) in its building, the 2nd best team (Jets) in their building, the best team in the NFC (Falcons) in their building, and the 2nd best team in the NFC (Eagles) in their building? EFFIN NO ONE, OF COURSE. And not only were the Packers not embarrassed in any of the four, but they are 2-2 with the two losses being by a combined 7 points.

    When you combine this fact with two great wins over the Vikings and sending Brent out a loser, I would say this season was pretty fricking good, even if, a loss one of the next two weeks keeps the Pack from not making the playoffs.

    The playoffs start next week for the Packers. Two games at home. The first a rematch of the 07 NFC Championship and the 2nd a head-to-head with the Bears. This is about as good as it gets for regular season games.

    • Kozak

      Yeah. That was a ballsy game for the Pack when they were expected to be thrashed. Having 6 loses by a TOTAL of 20 points has to be some kind of record.

    • ay hombre

      Iltarion…I think everyone agrees with your points about this team, but the whole point is all of those games were winnable with better coaching and game management decisions. Our players have put our team in a position to win in each and every loss and the coaches have not helped apply the dagger. Last night I give the coaching staff a pass…no one gave them a chance and they played the best team in the world admirably. That said…McCarthy makes questionable decisions every week (time out with 4 minutes left, no play action bootleg on the goalline and the subsequent field goal….not applying the dagger) but the onside kick scored big points with me. He sucks and I hate him but he’s not going anywhere…unless we meltdown and play like shit the next two weeks….which with him in charge is totally possible.

  4. I agree completely with you iltarion. Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that coaching is not the issue, and it’s not the reason we lost to the pats.

  5. Pat

    Can’t agree more iltarion. Im totally on your side. As many mistakes as MM makes clock management wise, he is not a bad coach. I def don’t think he needs to go anywhere … what other team in the NFL would be able to play such a season (in my eyes, successful season, even if we miss the playoffs) with like everybody and their momma on IR.

    Granted those games could of been won, but with so many players inexperienced (and face it, sometimes the players kick themselves, look at Jennings sure TD catch he dropped last week, or Woodson not holding on to a sure INT this week)

    We have a great team, if we can get everybody healthy, and stay healthy, next season we’re gonna be a force nobody wants to mess with. We could of been it this year, but injuries do eventually catch up to you.

  6. Pingback: Daybreak Doppler: Better Than Expected But Still an L |

  7. Tim

    There needs to be some mention of clock management immediately after the 2 minute warning.
    That was just upsetting.

  8. AZ Pack

    Fire James Campen… He was a great Packer lineman, but is failing to get his current job done. Also, why did MM take that time out with 4 plus minutes left? We could have used it at the end. If anything, the showing by Flynn may interest some teams that need a QB next year.

    On to the Giants… We must win.

    Go Pack Go!

  9. Flyboy

    No matter how you look at it this is a very disappointing season. The Pack was picked by many analysts to be the NFC team destined to go to the Super Bowl. Instead, they are struggling to make the playoffs and probably don’t deserve to even make the playoffs. So many losses this year that should have been wins. The losses to the Lions and Redskins have come back to bite us.

  10. 6 losses by 20 points is one thing. It says we’re very close. But it also says that this team CANNOT win close games. Both factors need to be considered and weighed and figure out which it is in this team’s case.

    In the case of the final play, Collinsworth immediately began going all high and mighty on Flynn essentially intimating that it was all his fault. I never had a lot of respect for Collinsworth as a broadcaster, but what little I had, I lost.

    First off, yes, it likely would have ended differently if Rodgers was in. Thanks a lot. Way to point out the obvious, you lummox. He probably would have been able to pick a play and roll with it, and so on. But that’s because HE’S BEEN THE STARTER FOR THE LAST 2.5 YEARS and knows the playbook in and out, you halfwit. McCarthy has to know that he has Matt Flynn in there, who availed himself well but does not likely have the encyclopaedic knowledge of the playbook that Rodgers has.

    How do you not have a play ready and stand around with your dick in your hand for 20 seconds?! The clock management inside of the two minute warning was abysmal and how you don’t have your first time starting QB ready is simply appalling.

    However, there’s this: Despite everything. Despite the team missing half their starters, despite the team dropping inexplicable and infuriating games at Detroit and Washington, despite the team shooting themselves in the foot more times than I thought humanly possible at Chicago…this team holds their own playoff destiny.

    If this team wins out (defeating the Giants & Bears at home), they are in the playoffs. If this team wins out and the Bears inexplicably lose to the Vikings tonight, they will win the NFC North.

    I’ve been very vocal on the Fire McCarthy bandwagon, but given Sunday night’s play and the close nature of losses this season given injuries, etc., he can buy another year by firing Slocum, and possibly Campen. Otherwise, cut him loose.

  11. jeremy

    Well, we got to see the difference between a Belichick coached team and a McCarthy coached team. The Packers were ballsy and stood toe to toe with the Patriots, but they made three or four inexcusable mistakes that cost them a close game. McCarthy needs to take a close look in the mirror and stop running away from his problems on Oline, special teams and especially game management if he wants to coach in the Super bowl.

    • ay hombre

      I have bashed MM more than anyone this year, but can you elaborate Jeremy? I may have been so thrilled with the surprise onside to start the game that I gave him a pass all night long on everything else.

  12. Boston

    so, Pats fans are a joke. Most didn’t get to their seats until the game had started. Barely anyone cheered during player intros. Every time something bad happened for them the air got sucked out of the place.

    Pretty nice stadium though. No Lambeau, but physically it’s fairly cool.

  13. lebowski

    A talented first round tackle isn’t progressing under the stellar tutelage of James Campen?? Amazing.
    Special teams allows Peter Griffin to rumble 70 yards almost untouched? Amazing.
    Two of the most useless assistant coaches ever. Get rid of them. Yesterday.

  14. Madcity Packer Fan

    I agree 100% with AZ and Lebowski these coaches NEED to go. If you cannot execute the under the lights you need not be there anymore. Period. Good game..we are a beat up team that should be in a different spot right now. I am using this as a excuse and I admit that all the way. There are reasons why we are 8 and 6 right now with a slight shot at the post season. Lack of a offensive coordination, special teams, and a depth chart. Good thing the last 2 are at home.

  15. andy

    Well, yeah we should look for a better coach. He’s not bad, but he’s not doing good enough to get the job done. Come on packers. We can do this!

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