Well. This was the Packers chance to really gain some momentum without Aaron Rodgers. Win this game, at home against a sub-.500 team (that lost at home to the team you just beat on the road), and you are two games over .500 and right in the thick of the wild card race with head-to-head tiebreakers against a couple of other wild card contenders.
I didn’t think it was possible to out-pass and out-run a team at home, give up zero points from a defense or special teams score, and still manage to get shut out and lost by four scores. Clearly I was wrong.
Jamaal Williams filled in admirably as a third string running back and as much as I love his power running, he’s clearly better suited to a complementary role. Jason Spriggs seems too good to play so bad – he has all the physical tools… I can’t say what’s missing. James Campen is too good to blame it on coaching, so I guess he’s not mentally quick enough in the moment. Biegel and Brooks flashed a little in there. Damarious Randall has been putting together a nice stretch of play – I have never seen a corner give up so many touchdowns when he is absolutely blanketing a receiver; sometimes it’s flukey, but as much shade as he gets, he’s doing pretty well. Was there another backup in there? Oh yeah…
He’s a textbook example of the difference between an athlete and a quarterback. He’s got arm strength, but doesn’t seem to know how to use it. He’s extremely elusive, but seems to use it as an excuse to not step up in the pocket. I get that the o-line has been a little shaky with all their injuries, but when you roll outside the pocket, you cut the field in half for the defense. He can run, but it looked like the coaches asked him to run less to force him to work on his passing, but now the whole thing seems wonky. At this point, I say ride him out to see if he can grow into a good backup or not – you should know for sure before the draft. It takes time in game situations to develop, so it’s not hopeless. It’s not exactly looking good, either, though.
Momentum and the Defense
This is the story of the game.
I truly believe that if the Packers punch it in on their first drive, they go on to win – maybe even a field goal does it. On the end zone interception, Hundley had the right read, but Jimmy Smith peeled off Adams at the last second to make a great play on the pass intended for Cobb (Don’t gloss over what a great play design this was – everyone knows that Hundley has locked onto Adams and on this play, they ran a shallow cross with Hundley looking left, right where Adams was crossing under. If the defense is paying any attention to Adams on the slant, it’s a score to Cobb. Good plays don’t always work, but I think that was they type of great call that the #FireMcCarthy crowd doesn’t appreciate). Until then, the offense looked unstoppable, even if it took a great Davante Adams adjustment on a Hundley underthrow that should have been a touchdown.
With a huge momentum swing for Baltimore, the defense came out and forced a punt.
Hundley responded by moving the offense a little, looking like they were still unstoppable, and then throwing a back-foot pick that was about 9 yards short of where it needed to be (once again overestimating his arm strength).
The defense, despite a huge amount of momentum now stacked against them from back to back picks, held the Ravens to a field goal.
The Packers, just needing a decent drive to get some points and take back all the momentum, marched to midfield and fumbled.
Then the defense pushes them back 5 yards and forces a 3 and out. The Packers respond with their own 3 and out, then the defense intercepts Flacco. Come on! Now’s your chance! The Packers actually got a few first downs before giving up some terrible sacks and having to punt again, but the defense held the Ravens to a field goal again!
The momentum was there for the taking and, against this Ravens team, it wouldn’t have taken much. The defense was put in terrible positions all day and absolutely battled and held up their end of the bargain the offense showed they could move the ball, but five turnovers (five!) is way to many to overcome. The fact that they offense couldn’t work with that great defensive effort is troubling.
In the end, the Ravens were 3 of 14 on third down and had 219 yards, even thought they had all the moment from the first drive. What an effort from the defense.
For the second game in a row, I didn’t see any boneheaded drops in key situations by a tight end. Funny, because I was really getting used to them.
In some bizzaire-o world dimension where Aaron Rodgers is healthy, the Packers are 9-1 and cruising towards home field advantage and another title.
Don’t Forget – On A Positive Note
Quitting is a contagious disease and once it sets in, it doesn’t just go away over an offseason. Mike McCarthy has his team battling down to the wire in losing efforts and I think that says a lot.