Sunday, October 10, 2010

Packers Dreams Trashed by Washington (Just Like the Rest of Ours)

Thud! Crosby's 'game-winning' kick hits goal post (Fox Sports)

It's hard to write about the Packers when one's finger nails are chewed down to the knuckle.

Just like its hard to win a game when most of your players are injured and the rest cannot catch a pass.

The only thing larger than the number of Packers who were lost to injury against the Washington Redskins was the number of passes Green Bay receivers dropped, and the number of branches Nancy Pelosi hit on her way down when she fell out of the Ugly Tree.

The Packers themselves seem to have taken a tumble out of that same Ugly Tree because even though they played pretty solid defense, their passing game dwindled to nothing and the defensive pass interference penalties climbed like unemployment statistics under Obama.

I mean, can Green Bay defenders NOT hit pass receivers early? They got away with fistfuls of no-calls until karma finally caught up with them in the fourth quarter and let Donovan McNabb's Redskins stay alive long enough to get an overtime field goal for a come-from-behind win.

But this game was not won on the cast-iron toughness of the veteran McNabb, whom one should never underestimate or discount; it was lost in the second quarter when guys like Donald Driver and other Green Bay receivers were dropping passes like Democrats are dropping lies in pre-election campaigns. And you cannot score points when you drop the balls which would have given you first downs deep into Redskin territory.

And what took Dom Capers so long to use the student-body rush on McNabb? He waited until overtime to rush everybody which was forcing McNabb to throw the ball before he wanted to.

Perhaps it was that he ran out of defensive players. I am quite sure that a few Cheeseheads in the crowd were signed, suited up and thrown in there to replace the Packers who were falling like Obama's popularity numbers. But sadly, the defensive pass interference calls nullified the strong pass pressure.

Granted, the Washington Redskins hit like trains. It taxes the memory to recall a game where there were as many punishing hits as Redskin defenders were putting on the guys with the yellow helmets. It was, if nothing else, a brutal game. They might not have a running game, but the Redskins are tough.

And though the Packers dodged a bullet mid way through the fourth quarter when a Washington field goal went wide right, much like will happen in the same town on election day, they failed to capitalize and the Redskins came back and kicked another which was good. But in a late attempt to counter, Packer kicker Mason Crosby bounced the game-winner off the left goal post which sent the game into overtime.

Though the Packers did not play well enough to win, neither did the Redskins. It was a defensive slug-fest the whole way, but it should not have been. The Packer running game was alive and well, despite many who think that running back Brandon Jackson is not a prime-time player; Jackson's outstanding play should silence his critics, though it probably won't. This author believes that Jackson is capable of being an NFL feature back and always has. Jackson proved worthy today and was one of the only continuously-bright spots on the offensive side of the ball.

He and special teams player/backup fullback Korey Hall played with reckless abandon today, making key plays without penalties or mistakes. And though the Packers defense also played strong, it was most certainly the early contact with Redskin receivers committed by nearly all of those covering passes which nullified a generally good defensive effort, considering the injuries the Packers are playing with.

Of course, none of this would have mattered if the Packers would have pulled away in the second quarter when they had the chance. The game should have been put away then because Green Bay was playing well enough to put several more touchdowns on the scoreboard. But they didn't because they let ball after ball drop to the turf.

Fortunately, the NFC North is such a competitive division this year that all of the other teams will both win and lose more games; so the Packers, now with two losses, are certainly not out of the playoff hunt yet. But neither are they the elite team that many were calling them early on in the season. They are not an elite team; they are a good team that has to find ways to win with many key play makers out with injuries.

Yes, the Packers can still beat any team in the NFL, but they can also lose to good contenders.

This game was one that Green Bay should have won. Hopefully, with the incredible potential offensive talent they have at their disposal, they will learn to put teams away early. But the players need to live up to that potential.

Then guys like me who write about the Packers won't have to type with bloody knuckles.

Game ball: Brandon Jackson and Korey Hall.

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