Jclombardi highlights Packers headlines about loss to Dolphins.
Guest senior writer jclombardi @ http://lombardiave.com
Packers Fall to 3-3, Lose Again in Overtime: QB Rodgers drove the Packers to the tie but miscues put the Dolphins in position to earn the win. The Packers couldn’t protect the quarterback and couldn’t win the field position battle. Finally, unable to move the ball in overtime again, the defense buckled before the winning 44-yard field goal.
Band Aid Can’t Stop Bleeding: The Packers couldn’t consistently stop the run and offered no pass rush without OLB Clay Matthews. As a result, the Dolphins finished with 381 yards, an almost 10-minute edge in time of possession and made the key plays in overtime. Not only were the Dolphins able to keep the chains moving on the ground, quarterback Henne took advantage of the Packers’ feeble pass rush. With Matthews sidelined by a hamstring injury, Henne didn’t feel much pressure from a defense. Benefitting from a depleted defense and the offense’s decision to use max protection on most plays, he took advantage bycompleting 23 of 39 passes for 231 yards.
Gameday–Dolphins 23 Packers 20 OT: The Dolphins (3-2) wear down a Packers defense that has been depleted by injuries. Kicker Dan Carpenter then delivered the knockout punch in overtime, hitting a 44-yard field goal for a 23-20 Dolphins victory. It was the second straight overtime loss for the reeling Packers (3-3), who came into this season with Super Bowl aspirations but have been hit hard by injuries. Now their sputtering offense and dinged-up defense face an emotional matchup with Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings at home next Sunday night. “We’ve got three losses, they’ve all been tight games,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “They’ve all come down to a critical point in the football game. We’re not getting it done at that particular point.”
Packers Lost to Dolphins 23-20 in OT: Where is the offensive juggernaut of the 2010 Packers? Nowhere through the first six weeks of the season, at least not when it matters most, such as getting into the end zone when there’s a chance to open a decent lead or driving for the game-winning score in overtime. The Packers’ attrition-diminished defense held up well enough to win, but where the offense directed by coach Mike McCarthy failed to come through in a 23-20 loss to the gritty Miami Dolphins. “It’s hard to lose, period,” McCarthy said. “It’s hard to lose home games. To lose overtime games–particularly disappointed in the offense, in our production there with the (overtime) series.” Instead of building a nice cushion for the meat of their schedule, the Packers are sitting in the middle of the pack at 3-3, one game behind 4-2 Chicago in the NFC North Division with a critical game against rival Minnesota coming up this week. The Packers are hardly at the breaking point at this early stage. They have personnel relief on the way, assuming their best defensive player, outside linebacker Matthews, can return soon. Safety Bigby and cornerback Harris also are eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list this week and possibly will be ready to play in the next game or two. But the Packers also must be concerned that their offense hasn’t had much rhythm since losing halfback Grant, and that their playmaking has been reduced further without tight end Finley. Nowhere through the first six weeks of the season, at least not when it matters most, such as getting into the end zone when there’s a chance to open a decent lead or driving for the game-winning score in overtime.
Packers Offense Continues to Sputter: The offensive side of the ball could do enough to keep drives alive in Sunday’s 23-20 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins. Third down has been a huge problem. After converting just 2-of-13 third downs in last week’s 16-13 overtime loss at Washington,the Packers were barely better (3 for 13) against the Dolphins. “You’ve got to sustain drives,” Rodgers said. “You’ve got to get in the red zone, give yourself opportunities to score more points. It’s just about finding a rhythm for us. When you’re not converting those third downs, there’s no rhythm.” Two failed drives against the Dolphins sum up the Packers’ struggles. Leading 10-7 in the second quarter, the Packers drove to Miami’s 40-yard line. Rodgers threw a swing pass to running back Brandon Jackson, who picked up 8 yards on first down. But things went haywire on second-and-2 from Miami’s 32. Rodgers got sacked by linebacker Cameron Wake (three sacks) and lost 12 yards. Then, right guard Josh Sitton cost the Packers 5 yards because of a false start. On third-and-19, Rodgers scrambled for 6, and the Packers punted. Then, in the third quarter, the Packers had a third-and-3 play from the Dolphins’ 8. Rodgers rolled to his right and had Nelson open. But Rodgers threw the ball a tad too far and Nelson couldn’t make what would have been a moderately difficult diving catch. The Packers settled for a field goal that tied the game at 13-13. When asked whether his quarterback has been as sharp as he has been accustomed to, Philbin said: “I don’t know if our unit is as sharp as we’re accustomed to seeing or as we would have hoped they would be. I don’t know if it’s one guy. Overall offensively, we’re certainly not as sharp or as productive as we’d like to be at this stage.” The lack of a running game, 76 yards on 21 carries (a 3.6-yard average), and the loss of Finley surely are factors. Finley’s loss is especially noticeable on third down. Finley went down on the second play from scrimmage against the Redskins and in his absence, the Packers are 5-of-26 on third downs. That’s a conversion rate of 19.2 percent. In the first four games with Finley, they were 21-of-43 (48.8 percent) on third downs.