Defensive Collapse: Packers Lose to Pittsburgh Steelers 37-36 on Final Play
Dec 21, 2009 ~ By Pete Dougherty, Press-Gazette
~PITTSBURGH – This was hardly a shameful loss for the Green Bay Packers, dropping a highly competitive thriller to the defending Super Bowl champions on their home turf, and on the last play of the game at that.
Practically speaking, even after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hit rookie Mike Wallace with a 19-yard touchdown pass that gave the Pittsburgh Steelers their 37-36 win in front of an ecstatic crowd of 57,542 spectators at Heinz Field, the Packers remain an almost sure bet to make the playoffs.
The bigger issue is whether Roethlisberger’s 503-yard game was an anomaly, or whether it exposed flaws in the Packers’ pass defense that could be a major problem the next time they face an elite quarterback surrounded by some good weapons. That’s inevitable in the NFL playoffs.
“Expose anything?” inside linebacker Nick Barnett said. “I don’t know if they exposed anything. But 500 yards, that’s a lot. We’ve definitely got some work to do.”
The Packers finished this day at 9-5 and no worse off than last week as the No. 5-seeded team in the NFC playoff race with two weeks left in the regular season. If the playoffs started today, they’d be traveling to 9-5 Arizona for a wild-card playoff game.
A home win over 5-9 Seattle next Sunday gets the Packers to the magical 10-win mark. Though it wouldn’t necessarily clinch a playoff spot, depending on whether the 8-6 New York Giants defeat Washington on Monday night, it would put the Packers in great shape for postseason play with only one game remaining.
“You’re mad and upset because you felt like you should have won the game,” Packers receiver Donald Driver said. “You felt like if you win this game you’ve got 10 wins, you can talk a little playoff action. But right now we’re not, we can’t talk until we get that 10th win.”
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