On Sunday the Packers were hampered by the losses of several key players to injury, an extremely hostile environment, and multiple ticky-tack fouls that kept giving Washington a second chance. But despite these and all the factors that played a part in the loss Sunday, what happened on that field was absolutely unacceptable. The Packers came into the game with a very strong core of players, despite some stars of the team standing on the sidelines in sweats, and were definitely the consensus pick to win this game. Even when Finley, Lee, and Pickett went down early, the Pack kept driving the ball down the field and were making stops on defense. Even when Matthews went down, the defense was able to make just enough big plays to give the offense a chance to win the ball game, but what transpired in the second half and overtime of that game cost the Packers the NFC North lead.
Brandon Jackson had one of the best games of his life in a Packer’s uniform Sunday and McCarthy could not have utilized him any worse than he did. Limited to only 10 carries, Jackson was able to rack up 115 yards--obviously most coming thanks to his 71 yard scamper--but I saw him only get stopped behind the line once. He showed excellent vision and was picking up 3 to 5 yard chunks every time he touched the ball; yet the game plan was so hideously one sided that the Redskins just needed halftime to figure out the pass happy offense that Packer fans have yearned for so far this year. I understand our past running situation previous to this contest has not been great, but when we ran it like we did Sunday, we have to utilize what we have. This was the first mistake made by the Packers, the second was execution.
Early on the Packers moved the ball at will and had a great opportunity at the goal line to perhaps break the Redskins' spirit early, and even though I do agree with the call made, the Packers executed rather terribly. First of all, they should have punched the ball in on either 2nd or 3rd down, but the play call on 4th down was flawed from the start as the call was a single man corner route to the rookie Quarless. The kid is good, but if the Packers wanted to throw the ball they needed to put some of their top tier talent out there to go up and make a play. Furthermore, I feel like a give to Kuhn up the middle would suffice as he is currently our toughest runner. Yet this play gave the Redskins hope that they were able to cling on to the rest of the game. Lastly, the overall discipline was, again, lacking.
Clay Matthews is one of the best football players in the league right now, he's torn up offenses from his outside linebacker spot and forced offensive coordinators to send double and triple teams his way to slow him down, but he is not what makes up that Packer defense at all. This is why it is troubling the intensity level of the defense simply dropped off after his departure; that’s when McNabb took advantage a secondary that had been playing great up to that point, allowing two deep throws that gave Washington the opportunity to come back. The penalties also kept coming, granted some of the penalties were simply due to Charles Woodson playing his physical brand of football, yet other penalties cost the Packers key field position in the long run. One that most stands out was the defensive holding called late in the game on a 3rd and short. The interception and the missed field goal were mistakes that would be understandable to other teams for kickers that aren’t accustomed to nailing 50 yard plus field goals or quarterbacks that don’t strive in pressure situations. However, we have one of the best kickers and quarterbacks in the league who will tell you that it was their fault for not making their respective plays when the game was on the line.
Needless to say, I'm not happy in the least bit about the Packers' performance Sunday. If this is a team that we can really believe in, they better be able to overcome adversity, like the what they saw in Washington on Sunday, or this team is not going to come anywhere close to that trip to Dallas. Mistakes need to be corrected in every phase of the game, and next weekends matchup with Miami will be a true gut check for this team as they will go into it knowing many more key players will not be suiting up. Even with Matt Flynn back there, this team can win Sunday. It’s just going to come down to the corrections that need to be made and if Mike McCarthy can light a fire under this squad.
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