Crosby miss gives Lions first win in Wisconsin in 24 years; Packers lose 3rd straight
By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider.com senior editor
~In today’s NFL, good teams win a few games every year that they almost steal. Games that they didn’t really deserve to win, but pulled out somehow. A win’s a win, they say.
Well last week in Carolina, the Packers had a chance for one of those over the Panthers, but Rodgers failed to throw to the wide open Randall Cobb in the end zone right side, instead desperately lofting a pass to the middle that was intercepted by Carolina.
Today, the offense was atrocious until the last half of the final quarter, and the Packers were in position to steal a win with a defensive stop with the Packers down 12-10 and the Lions facing a third-and-nine deep in their own territory with plenty of time left for the Packers.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers did not sit back in coverage and only send three pass-rushers this time. He blitzed a few, including defensive back Casey Hayward. Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford saw his primary receiver covered and he felt pressure all around him. He basically gave up, covering the ball so it wasn’t stripped out. But then Hayward flung himself to the ground as Stafford sidestepped to the left, and found Calvin Johnson open for 13 yards and a deflating first down.
A handful of plays later, the Packers had the Lions at third-and-goal, with a chance to hold them to a field goal and a 15-10 Lions lead. But Casey Hayward allowed journeyman Lance Moore to get wide open inside for a game-sealing touchdown with under two minutes to go.
However, instead of a PAT giving the Lions a 19-10, two-score in-surmounting lead, kicker Matt Prater missed his second extra point, so the Packers took over down just 18-10 and a chance to score a touchdown and get a 2-point conversion to tie it, forcing overtime.
Aaron Rodgers was clutch, and led the Packers down the field and hit third string tight end Justin Perillo for the potential tying score.
The 2-point conversion was another “just miss” as Rodgers threw to Davante Adams for the 21st time in the game, as Rodgers was getting hit by the blitzing pass rush of the Lions. Defensive back Crezdon Butler knocked the ball away from Adams, who was unable to outmuscle Butler for the ball. Seemed like the game was over, as Fox broadcaster Joe Buck prematurely said.
However, the Packers got their “Brandon Bostick miracle back”. The onside kick attempt clanged off the hands and right shoulder of receiver Calvin Johnson, one of the most sure-handed players in the NFL, and rookie Damarious Randall made the recovery.
Trailing 18-16, the Packers needed just a field goal to win. They had 36 seconds to do it. They moved into position for about a 57-yard attempt with eight second left and no timeouts. Most expected the attempt then as the Packers could not afford another play unless getting out of bounds. McCarthy decided to try one more, and got it to Adams for about five additional yards, setting up a 52-yard attempt by Mason Crosby.
The kick came off Crosby’s foot low and and it appeared it was tipped by someone, perhaps Haloti Ngata. But replays showed it was not touched. It never came close, falling way short, like 15 yards short. In golf, a game that Crosby plays a lot and loves, that’s called a shank, or a duff, and when it comes with the game or match on the line, that’s called a choke. Choke, as in Scott Hoch, see 1989 Masters. Now it’s possible that the hold was bad. If so, Tim Masthay is the guy to blame. In addition to that, he hit some horrible punts, which brought some boo’s from the home crowd.
So instead of stealing a crucial divisional win and going to 7-2, the Packers dropped their third straight and are now looking up at the Minnesota Vikings, with a 6-3 record and questions everywhere.
From quarterback to running back, wide receiver to tight end, and all over the offensive line, the Packer offense is sputtering. Play-calling also is very questionable as for some reason the Packers can’t seem to call plays to get wide receivers open in space.
How often have we seen opposing offenses run rubs, crossing patterns where someone is picked off and the opposing wide receiver is wide open? Quite a few times. Why aren’t the Packers able to do this?
Randall Cobb, the $40 million dollar man, can’t get open? I realize that the officials swallowed their whistles and allowed the Lions defensive backs, especially #24, to grab, accost, molest, hold Davante Adams repeatedly. But there are other times they are not being held, and there are patterns and formations to run that will give the receivers chances to get into open space.
Even putting Cobb in the backfield isn’t fooling anyone anymore as they’ve seen it on film already.
McCarthy and Clements need to get smarter and freshen up the offense. Rodgers threw 61 passes today. Sixty-one. Had he thrown 61 any other year with Jordy Nelson in the game, he probably would have gained at least 500 yards. But today, 333 yards or just 5.5 per pass. He used to regularily average over eight yards a pass. Now, so many short little passes, many 1, 2, 3 yard gains where the receiver or tight end is hammered right away for no or little gain.
These tight ends and wide receivers are slow. Where is Jeff Janis? Rodgers or McCarthy seem to dismiss him as being worthy by saying he and Rodgers aren’t on the same page, that there are trust issues with Aaron. Well you know what, I see errant throws to Cobb every game where Rodgers throws it one way and Cobb goes the other way. Remember one of Rodgers interceptions in the NFC Championship game that was right to a Seahawk defensive back after the Packers had just gotten into field goal range on a pass to Nelson? Cobb went one way and Rodgers threw it the other way.
Why are they not utilizing Janis with his speed? Defenses either have to respect his speed and leave a safety back deeper or give Janis more cushion by the cornerback. Either way, it has to help the Packers. Quick scores deep, or loosening the defense, either will help the short passing game and the running game.
The backup quarterbacks seem to have no problems hitting Janis deep in the preseason. Why can’t Rodgers do that?
I have heard speculation that the final kick by Crosby may not have been all his fault. Some say the hold by Masthay was sloppy and his finger may have been what the problem was. I find that easier to believe than a kick like that, which we’ve never seen before. Also, sadly and ironically, 3 1/2 hours later, we saw the Patriots’ Tom Brady get his team into field goal range late in the game, and his kicker, last play of the game, made his 50+ yarder to give the Patriots the win. Where would Brady be if he had Crosby and Scott Norwood all his career on clutch kicks instead of Adam Vinitieri and Steven Gostkowski? Less wins, and less rings.