Redskins 16, Packers 13: Adding injury to insult : Packers Insider

Redskins 16, Packers 13: Adding injury to insult

October 10, 2010 by  
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Oct 10, 2010 ~ by Jason Wilde

~By the time Graham Gano’s game-winning 33-yard field goal was sailing through the uprights – giving the Washington Redskins an improbable 16-13 overtime victory at FedEx Field Sunday – the Green Bay Packers’ best players were mere spectators and in varying degrees of pain.

Tight end Jermichael Finley was leaning on a pair of crutches, after a right knee/hamstring injury. Sack-meister Clay Matthews was standing on the sideline, a winter knit cap pulled down over his long blonde locks, his problematic left hamstring having flared up again. Defensive end Ryan Pickett was sitting on the bench, his right ankle having been rolled up on the second play of the game. And then there was quarterback Aaron Rodgers, still dazed from a helmet-to-helmet hit on his final pass – an interception to LaRon Landry – that would later be diagnosed as a concussion.

All this when the Packers already had two starters on injured reserve (1,200-yard running back Ryan Grant, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 1, and rookie strong safety Morgan Burnett, who went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee last week against Detroit) and were playing without four more key players – starting right tackle Mark Tauscher (shoulder), starting inside linebacker Nick Barnett (wrist), nickel linebacker Brandon Chillar (shoulder) and nickel cornerback Sam Shields (calf).

“In 10 years, I’ve never seen it like this before,” Pickett said, shaking his head. “It’s definitely an issue right now. We have a lot of injuries. But we’re supposed to win that game regardless.”

Yes, NFL coaches talk all the time about injuries not being an excuse, about the next player having to step up … blah blah blah. They have to say those things. But the fact of the matter is that the Packers’ Super Bowl aspirations are hanging by a thread just five games into the season, as injuries mount amid two losses to inferior teams in a three-week span.

“I don’t think about expectations. We’re going to get back, we’re going to get our team healthy, we’re going to get the guys ready to play next week at home against Miami,” said Packers coach Mike McCarthy, whose team survived against Detroit last week after a troubling Monday night loss at Chicago by a field goal the week before. “We’re a 3-2 football team, and there’s many reasons why we’re 3-2. We need to improve and get guys ready to play. We can’t control the injuries, and we really don’t spend a whole lot of time discussing those types of things or worrying about them.”

True, the Packers (3-2) certainly had opportunities to win despite the injuries. The offense rolled up a whopping 427 yards, overcoming challenging field position, Donald Lee’s early fumble, six dropped passes (unofficially, including four by Donald Driver) and a heinous 2-for-13 “conversion” rate on third down (15.4 percent). And yet, they still wound up scoring their fewest points since Rodgers took over as the team’s quarterback at the start of the 2008 season, and their fewest points overall since their wind-chilled 35-7 loss at Chicago on Dec. 23, 2007.

“When it rains, it pours. We had a lot of uncharacteristic things that we typically execute a little better,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “We just weren’t sharp. We weren’t very detailed and it showed.

“It’s frustrating. Obviously, we didn’t finish drives off well enough. It wasn’t just one thing. At times, we didn’t catch the ball probably as well. as we’ve caught the ball in the past. They made a big play down there on the goal line. Then a couple of times later in the game we had a few protection issues that hurt us. We had a penalty or two at times that hurt us. As always seems to be the case, it was typically not one thing but usually a combination of things.”

“Certainly I don’t think (the injuries) were the reason for the lack of cohesiveness out there. I don’t think it was a big deal.”

The Packers also cost themselves at least three points early in the second quarter, leading 7-0 and with three chances at the Redskins’ 1-yard line to push the lead to two touchdowns. But after John Kuhn was stopped for no gain on second-and-goal, Rodgers was stopped on a sneak on third-and-goal, McCarthy opted to go for it on fourth-and-goal. After initially going with a personnel group of Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Brandon Jackson and Jordy Nelson, McCarthy came back with Nelson, Kuhn, fullback Korey Hall and tight ends Tom Crabtree and Andrew Quarless, then watched as Rodgers’ pass to Quarless was deflected and fell incomplete.

4th & Goal missfire: Aaron Rodgers’ pass to Quarless in the end zone was deflected and fell incomplete. The Redskin defender got away with a hold earlier in the play as Quarless was running right past him. No flag thrown.

“We had a chance early in the game to get out in front,” McCarthy said. “I think it would have helped our defense. (It would) have been able to pin their ears back a little bit more, have some opportunities. … I wasn’t particularly happy with our performance in the second half.”

And yet, after watching their 13-3 fourth-quarter lead evaporate on a 48-yard Donovan McNabb-to-Anthony Armstrong touchdown bomb and the second of Gano’s three field goals on the day, they still were in position to win in regulation, only to see kicker Mason Crosby’s 53-yard field goal clank off the left upright with :01 showing on the clock.

“I should’ve made the kick. We definitely should’ve had a win,” said Crosby, who also missed a 48-yarder with 2:14 left in the third quarter. “I’m just sick to my stomach about missing that kick.”

The Redskins (3-2), meanwhile, were ecstatic, winning without running back Clinton Portis (groin) and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (death in the family), and despite losing both of their starting offensive tackles to injuries.

“You take a game like that where offensively you couldn’t get anything going, any momentum going, but we hung in there and were able to make some plays there in the fourth quarter and obviously overtime,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “We had some opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them, but the key is to come back, take advantage of those opportunities late in the game, make some plays. And that’s the difference.”

It was certainly the difference Sunday, when the Packers squandered theirs – and should have won despite the M*A*S*H unit their sideline had become by game’s end.

“Definitely we should have won. No question about that,” Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji said. “But I’m a full believer in you get what you deserve. Anytime you keep you keep a team in the game, it’s the NFL. You keep a team in the game long enough, it will come back and bite you. It just sucks.”

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