9.05.2014

Three and Out

Four quarters to win a game, four downs to get a first down. There are a lot of reasons the Packers lost Thursday night:  rushing defense, an injury to Bryan Bulaga, and poor play by the receivers.  But if I had to pick four key plays, here's how the Packers blew it on Thursday night in four downs.

First down:  Brad Jones drops an interception in the first quarter

Yes, Zach Miller made a nice defensive play on offense, but we're not that far removed from training camp, and that was a textbook tip drill.  Brad Jones, in a game this big, has GOT to catch that ball.  If Jones holds on to that interception, Mike Daniels never runs into the kicker, the Packers take over at midfield, and the Packers are in position to score first instead of the Seahawks.  This play could change the entire landscape of the game.

As a side note, I'm beyond done with Brad Jones.  Give me Jamari Lattimore.  Give me Sam Barrington.  Hell, bring back Nick Barnett, but if you're going to stick with the vanilla AJ Hawk in the middle, you need a wild card to pair him with.

Second down: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix drops an interception in the second quarter

This is a play the safety should make.  The Packers are only down 7 near the end of the second quarter, and if Ha Ha holds on to this ball and just goes down, the Packers likely get at minimum 3 points, and at best tie the game going into the half.  The dynamic of the game coming out of half time drastically changes with this pick.

There is a silver lining to this play, however.  We have a rookie here who was in position to make a play, as he was several times in this game.  Although we have a pretty small sample size, Ha Ha seems to have the proverbial "nose for the ball", which tells me that we likely have our replacement for the painfully average Morgan Burnett, perhaps as soon as midseason.  The secondary is suddenly a strength, which is encouraging.

Third down:  Aaron Rodgers throws the ball away in the third quarter

This one hurts the most.  Brad Jones is someone I have no faith in, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a rookie.  But Rodgers is our guy. The face of the franchise. He's molded his role on the team as a guy who unabashedly demands the most of his teammates and sets the tone with his play.  So when you're that guy, how do you throw the ball away on 3rd and 3 with enough real estate in front of you to get a first down with your legs?  That play concerned me more than anything tonight.  Perhaps there was a miscommunication between him and Nelson on the play, but they say winners want the ball in their hand with the game on the line, and I'd argue that the game was on the line here. I'm disappointed that Rodgers didn't tuck and run.

And if you're going to defend the decision, I'll say right now that I don't care if McCarthy doesn't like him running for first downs.  I can't remember who said it, but a coach once said (and I'm paraphrasing), "There are two types of players I can't win with:  those who never listen to me, and those who always listen to me."  That was a play where Rodgers should have ignored his coach.

Punt:  Brad Jones is called for holding in the fourth quater

Early in the drive Green Bay had Seattle stopped on third down on their own 24 yard line when the aforementioned Brad Jones commits a holding penalty to give Seattle an automatic first down.  By passing, the Seahawks seem to be trying to give the Packers a shot, but they can't capitalize.

If this stop is made, there's still an outside chance (however slim) at scoring twice and winning 30-29.  Instead, Russell Wilson directed a soul crushing 13 play, 80 yard drive, culminating with a TD pass on 4th and 1 from the GB 15 yard line.

Final score:  36-16.

0-1 to start the season.  This loss is far from a death knell, and even with injuries to Bryan Bulaga and Richard Rodgers, you have to like the Packers chances next week against the perennially hapless Jets. With that being said, after opening and closing the last two seasons with losses to the 49ers, it's hard not to wonder if the best case scenario this year is deja vu all over again, only with the Seahawks as the substitute.



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