Packers razor sharp offense goes dull as Rodgers misfires high & low : Packers Insider

Packers razor sharp offense goes dull as Rodgers misfires high & low

January 24, 2011 by  
Filed under News

By Rob Reischel, Journal-Sentinel

~Chicago — Josh Sitton didn’t want to get greedy. But the Green Bay’s Packers right guard was having flashbacks early on during Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.

“The way we started out, I thought we were going to put up 40 points on (Chicago),” Sitton said. “We came out and were running good, throwing good, just rolling like Atlanta.”

Rodgers culminated the Packers impressive opening drive with this TD bootleg, but over the Packers' final 10 possessions, Rodgers was a Ryan Leaf-like 9 of 19 for 106 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 25.2.

Yes, for a little more than a quarter, this felt exactly like the NFC divisional playoff, when the Packers drilled the Falcons, 48-21.

In the first 19 minutes, the Packers were razor sharp offensively and raced to a 14-0 lead. But over the final 41 minutes Green Bay’s offense didn’t score a single point.

Thanks to a stout defensive effort, though, and a fourth quarter interception return by nose tackle B.J. Raji, the Packers prevailed, 21-14. Green Bay will now meet Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6.

“It was weird, man,” Packers wideout James Jones said. “We don’t feel like there’s anybody out there that can stop us except us. And the rest of the game, I’d just say we stopped ourselves.”

The Bears had no success stopping Green Bay early.

On the Packers’ first drive, quarterback Aaron Rodgers led a seven play, 84-yard march that he capped with a 1-yard TD run. Rodgers was 4 for 4 on the drive for 76 yards and hit Greg Jennings twice for 48 yards.

“Frankly, the first drive was the way we anticipated coming into this game,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I thought we were able to get into a tremendous rhythm.”

Green Bay stayed in rhythm and went ahead, 14-0, just 4 minutes into the second quarter.

The Packers needed just five plays to cover 44 yards on that drive. Running back Brandon Jackson (16 yards) and wideout Jordy Nelson (15) both had big catches on the march, and running back James Starks finished the deal with a 4-yard TD run.

From that point forward, though, everything changed.

In Green Bay’s first four possessions, it rolled up 181 total yards and had 12 first downs. In the Packers’ final 10 possessions, though, they had 175 total yards and 11 first downs.

Green Bay averaged 7.9 yards per play those first four possessions. The rest of the game, the Packers averaged just 3.9 yards per play.

“I don’t know what happened,” Sitton said. “We were just really out of sync and lost all of our momentum. Thankfully, our defense stepped up and made sure we’re still playing.”

Chicago certainly had something to do with it as well.

Bears linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher both intercepted Rodgers with the Packers in Chicago territory.

Briggs’ came late in the first half after Green Bay had reached Chicago’s 41-yard line. But Rodgers threw low to wideout Donald Driver, the ball hit Driver’s foot and bounced up and into the hands of Briggs.

Urlacher’s pick came with the Packers at Chicago’s 6-yard line and looking to add to a 14-0 lead midway through the third quarter. Urlacher read Rodgers’ eyes, stepped in front of a pass intended for Driver and totally changed momentum.

Rodgers was sharp to open the game, business-as-usual, but perhaps after he took the big helmet to face hit from Julius Peppers, he went south.

“It was a terrible throw,” said Rodgers, who likely saved a touchdown by tackling Urlacher. “Once I threw it I started sprinting and I was hopeful that I was able to at least catch up to him.”

Rodgers was a major reason the Packers’ offense went south.

Rodgers went 8 of 11 for 138 yards and a 114.7 passer rating in Green Bay’s first four series. But over the Packers’ final 10 possessions, Rodgers was 9 of 19 for 106 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 25.2.

In addition to Rodgers’ struggles, McCarthy’s play calling became more conservative. And after scoring twice in their first four possessions, the Packers’ final 10 possessions resulted in six punts, two interceptions and two kneel-downs to end halves.

It was a remarkable turnaround for an offense that had been smoking hot

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