Jclombardi’s summary and rapid reactions about Packers loss.
Guest senior writer jclombardi @ http://lombardiave.com
Summary: With the game between the undefeated Packers and Bears going down to the wire, Packers’ mistakes and penalties eventually set up the winning field goal to hand the victory to the Bears 20-17. The Packers had 18 penalties, allowed a blocked field goal by Bears DE Peppers, committed at least 3 key special teams mistakes, and had a winning drive stopped by a key fumble leading to the final minutes meltdown and winning Bears field goal at the end of the game.
1. Same old issues of penalties and turnovers–the Packers had a team a record 18 penalties. Coach McCarthy and staff simply failed to field a disciplined elite team to win against the physical Bears on their home turf. Throughout crucial series in the game, the Packers were outplayed, outmuscled, and outcoached costing the game. Further, they did not try to build on a 10-0 lead with sloppiness eventually costing the game for the Packers. This elite offense get 7 points in the second half. Disgusting!
2. Special teams atrocious–crucial breakdowns including the blocked field goal, the game changing Hester punt return for a touchdown, and P Misthay’s bad punting. His bad punts included a 35-yard wounded duck late in the first half that Hester returned 28 yards to the Packers’ 44 setting up the Bears’ first touchdown. In the first half alone, the Packers’ kickoff coverage was awful with Manning getting a 44-yard return after an offside penalty on Desmond Bishop and K Crosby booted the next kickoff out of bounds giving the Bears great field position at their 40.
3. Rookies failed to perform–the Bears picked on rookies CB Shields, OLB Zombo, and S Burnett in the defense with good success. Rookie OLB Zombo had a key penalty cancelling a big interception and leading to the game tying field goal. Then, penalty no. 18 was pass interference by S Burnett wiping out S Collins’ interception and giving a first down at the 9 to the Bears. Then, after three run plays, Bears K Gould kicked the winning field goal in the final seconds of the game.
4. Writer Bedard is correct: this team plays down to the mediocre level of the competition. In the NFL, the successful teams use their explosive offense to set the winning game strategy. They do not allow a competitor’s tough defense to control the tempo of the game or to keep them in a game. We said so in previewing the season.
5. The running game is a mess–15 carries for 63 yards is pedestrian. The mess is due to awful play calling and bad execution by the offensive line. Repeatedly, McCarthy broadcasts the conservative running plays with personnel against an obvious 7 man front line box in cover-2 scheme. Further, the run blocking is a nightmare failing to open up the necessary holes for the running backs.
6. QB Rodgers played well, but he is still not a gamer or a high stakes winner. Rodgers threw for 316 yards and had two total touchdowns. He scored on a 3-yard run that gave the Packers a 17-14 lead in the fourth period.
7. TE Jermichael Finley is a beast–nine catches for 115 yards. Unfortunately, he left the game with cramps reflecting bad timing on that failed final drive.
8. The difference between an “explosive Manning” offense and the “elite Rodgers” offense: Opening up the second half, the Packers marched 61 yards in 12 plays using 8:27 minutes on the clock. Yet, they came away with nothing after Mason Crosby’s 37-yard field goal was blocked following a holding penalty on OT Tauscher nullified a 15-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Jermichael Finley.
9. Tale of two defensive halves–the defense was solid in the first half with good blizes and three sacks as the pressure forced the Bears offense into costly mistakes. In the second half again, the defense failed to pressure Cutler and he did enough to win the game.