Monday Morning Aftermath: Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers lost to the New England Patriots in yet another heartbreakingly close game by the final score of 31-27.
Setting The Tone
Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy reached deep into his bag of tricks right from the beginning. Kicker Mason Crosby executed a near-perfect onside kick to begin the game that the Packers converted into a field goal. From the opening whistle, it was clear that the Packers had come to play.
A Balanced Approach
With quarterback Aaron Rodgers watching from the sidelines with a concussion, McCarthy was forced to simplify his offense for third-year pro Matt Flynn. Flynn looked poised in the pocket for most of the game and was helped out by the three-headed rushing attack of Brandon Jackson, Dimitri Nance, and John Kuhn. The final tally of rushes to passes was 38 to 37.
A Running Game?
For the first time in weeks, the Packers appeared to have a rushing attack. Brandon Jackson finished with 99 yards, and John Kuhn was one of the most dynamic players on the field. Kuhn was magnificent in short-yardage, leapfrogging and bowling over defenders; he even made a few players miss on his way to powering in a 6-yard Matt Flynn pass for a touchdown.
The Big Men
Despite a dominant first half, the Packers’ special teams allowed the Patriots to claw back into the game just before the half. After a squib-kick was handled by offensive guard Dan Connolly, the Packers showed a complete lack of lane discipline as the 6-foot-4, 313 pound Connolly rumbled 71 yards to inside the Green Bay 5-yard line on the longest kickoff return by a lineman in NFL history.
On the defensive side of the ball, both teams’ nose tackles wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Despite numerous double teams, the Packers’ B.J. Raji finished with 4 tackles including 2 sacks. His counterpart, the Patriots’ Vince Wilfork finished with 6 tackles. Both were disruptive forces on their respective defensive lines all night long.
The Best Defense is a Ball-Controlling Offense
The Packers’ defense played well, limiting the potent New England offense to only 249 yards of offense. The Green and Gold also limited Tom Brady and company to 4-of-10 on 3rd downs. However, the defense could not hold on to a couple of early Brady mistakes as cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Sam Shields each dropped possible interceptions.
Perhaps more impressive than the defense’s performance was the offense’s control of the game clock. The Packers mix of run and pass managed to hold on to the ball for over 40 minutes in a game only made up of 60 minutes.
A Star in the Making?
Matt Flynn‘s first career start was superb. The 3rd-year pro out of LSU finished the game 24-of-37 passing for 251 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Although his numbers were impressive, his calm demeanor and control of the offense were the real surprises. He led a number of long, sustained scoring drives and his perfectly placed 66-yard touchdown pass to James Jones down the right sideline in the second quarter was a thing of beauty.
All Good Things Must Come to an End
As well as Matt Flynn played, he did not have quite enough magic to lead his team to victory. Facing a hurried 4th-and-1 with 23 seconds left on the game clock, Flynn and McCarthy were unable to communicate a play to the offense, and the Patriots three-man rush forced Flynn to the ground to end the game, and the Packers lost 31-27. To his credit, Flynn tried to keep his head up as he walked off the field, but visibly dejected, Flynn and the Packers were left wondering what could have been.
That same feeling of agony was felt throughout the entire locker room as the Packers dropped their 6th game of the season. And to add salt to their wounds, the loss was by a 4-point margin; all six Packers’ losses have come by 4 points or less.