17

December

While We Scratch our Heads, the Packers Win Games

James Jones

James Jones and the Packers are NFC North champs. (Photo from the Associated Press.)

What was your favorite head-scratching moment from Sunday’s Packers win over the Bears? Here are your options:

  • Dropped passes from Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley on the first drive. Tough catches, yes, but catchable.
  • Aaron Rodgers getting sacked three times in the first half.
  • Cobb dropping a touchdown pass in the second quarter. The pass was slightly off, but it was catchable.
  • Mason Crosby whiffing on two more field goals.
  • Mike McCarthy going for it on fourth and 6 in the third, then trying a field goal on fourth and 1 in the fourth. Why not go for it both times?
  • McCarthy calling a throwback on a punt return up 11 points in the fourth that resulted in a turnover. Ugh.
  • Rodgers launching a bomb to Greg Jennings on third and 3 late in the fourth when a simple first down would have been fine.
  • Ryan Grant’s fumble.

That’s a lot of head-scratching moments to choose from. Oh, and by the way, the Packers won 21-13 and are NFC North champions.

The Packers have made me scratch my head a lot this season, but they keep winning. Through all the injuries, all the missed field goals, all the stalled drives and all the weird playcalling, the Packers are NFC North champions.

It’s amazing what this team has been able to accomplish so far.

Of course, there is still a lot more to accomplish. All of the perseverance and fortitude shown by the Packers will be for not if they blow their first playoff game.

How many head-scratching moments can the Packers afford in the playoffs? It’s one thing to have those moments against the Arizona Cardinals or Jay Cutler. It’s another to have them against the San Francisco 49ers or Eli Manning.

Clawing out victories and digging yourself out of holes shows that your team has mettle. Mistakes like the ones made by the Packers may also burn you big time against a good team in the playoffs.

We’ll see how this season turns out. For now, I’m going to stop scratching my head and enjoy another NFC North title.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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39 Responses to “While We Scratch our Heads, the Packers Win Games”

  1. Turophile says:

    I’m guessing we would see a lot less of these odd calls if we had a less than stellar guy at QB.

    When your QB is less good you become more of a careful game manager. You know the winning margin is very tight and you try to take out all the higher risk stuff to maximise your chance of winning.

    Some of the calls made on Sunday reflect the confidence MM has that the Packers will win out over the Bears almost whatever he does. Confidence, arrogance, call it what you will but we have a pretty awesome rwecord with NFC North games.

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  2. Nick Perry says:

    Adam someone has to help explain some of the moves by M.M. during that game and his continued support of Crosby after that game. Not going for it on 4th and 1 after going for it on 4th down from longer distances made no sense. The throwback deep in their end was one of the worst calls I’ve seen a NFL coach make give the situation and what was a stake if they lost the game. But to hear that M.M. was going to continue to support his kicker through this is insane! He’s missed a kick in 8 straight games! Times up! Crosby has to go. Ryan Longwell would work just fine for the rest of this year. He’ll hit everything from 45 and in. He’s kicked in cold weather, and the Superbowl is in a dome!

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    • Adam Czech says:

      I don’t agree with the below explanations, but I will try to explain:

      Crosby: He’s got a powerful leg. McCarthy and Thompson probably don’t see a kicker on the street that even comes close to matching Crosby’s raw talent, so they are going to stick w/ Crosby. Could Longwell consistently drill kicks from 45 yards and in? Maybe. But kickoffs would be tough for him.

      Not going for it on 4th and 1: Rodgers was a little slow getting up after running on third down. Maybe that’s why they didn’t go for it.

      Punt throwback: If it would have worked, we all would be saying how “gutsy” McCarthy is. It didnd’t work, so we’re all calling him an idiot.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

      • Nick Perry says:

        Thanks Adam! Your absolutely right about the throwback. I see your point on the kickoffs which to be honest, I hadn’t even thought of that. As a Packer fan Crosby is painful to watch. I think it’s because of how badly he misses some of the kicks. Lets hope it doesn’t come down to Crosby making a FG with 2 seconds to go and the Packers down by 2. GO PACK GO!!

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      • PatMc says:

        All the other teams are selling out on covering Cobb. That play will force other teams to cover more of the field. MM said it was an idiot play at that time and would not happen again. I bet we see that play in the playoffs, when needed. Of course it will be caught and run for a TD.

        Longwell is not that accurate anymore, even in a dome. That is why the Vikqueens let him go.

        I vote bomb to Jennings in 4th when getting a first down (3 yards) was more important and do able. I hope ARod thinks about this long passes when a short pass will move the changes for the playoffs.

        But Heh – DIVISION CHAMPS and in the hunt for the SB again. Feels good.

        PS I notice that Finley did get over 50 yards which is a good thing.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

        • Gary says:

          As Adam pointed out signing Longwell might help with field goals but you would have to keep Crosby for kickoffs.Longtime Packer fans will recall when Longwell was with the Packers, the punter did all the kickoffs because Longwell could not kick it long well enough.

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      • Ed says:

        Not going for it on 4th and 1: There is more to strategy than down and distance.

        4th and 6 early in the game when you want to change momentum and are at distance *from the goal* where you might punt instead of try a FG even when Crosby is on target vs.

        4th and 1 with a 2 TD lead from a distance where what ought to be an automatic FG makes it a 3-score lead.

        That comparison is reason enough for me. Take a deep breath, stop emoting (and listenign to the broadcasters), and think like a cold-blooded professional assassin. The Rah-rah stuff doesn’t work in the pros (Pete Carrol is a two-faced lying douchebag who can’t stop laughing when people but his ‘college enthusiasm’ bs. Didn’t remember to take the fakes out of the game plan my Aunt Fanny.)

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  3. Razer says:

    We won because we played an inept opponent. The Bears offense is struggling bad and could not take advantage of this sloppy play. We will not make it far with O-line play like this and the mistakes that teams like Chicago and Detroit can’t capitalize on.

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    • Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

      i actually thought this was one of the better performances from the OL in quite a while. rodgers had to move, but often he was able to reset and scan the field. there were running lanes as well.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  4. KurtMc says:

    all three legs of this bar stool must be better in the playoffs…MM play calling, Aaron not holding the ball and hitting the check off, Capers-you don’t have to blitz every pay it seems. Fake a few and drop back or show some different look.

    Go Pack

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  5. topgbpackfan says:

    Dumbest play of the the game was the throwback on the punt return. No need to take that chance we were leading and defense was doing a good job. Second dumbest play was bomb to Jennings on 3rd and and three. If we made first down we could have eaten up more clock time and Bears would have little time to even attempt a comeback. MM really needs to bring some other kicker in for playoff run. Crosby will cost the Pack a win.
    Nuff saID.

    Good Luck Packin playoffs!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  6. Dan says:

    The throwback wins hands down!
    When you’re leading by 11 with less than 8 minutes left in the game against an offense your defense has dominated all game, you fair catch and run the ball till they stop you then punt & play defense! Even if it had worked, it was the WRONG call.

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    • Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

      i agree. absolutely wrong call no matter what happens. MM will not try to justify it and neither should a fan. terrible call.

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  7. Brooklyn81 says:

    We can keep Crosby and let him do kickoffs. But bring someone else to do field goals.

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  8. Art Rosen says:

    Where do we even begin to describe the MM call to lateral the ball with an 11 point lead halfway thru the 4th qtr? Yuch! We need a 45 and in field goal kicker more than a 45 and over kicker. Give me Longwell. The good news at this time is that the Giants may not make the playoffs, the team that was built to beat the Packers. Though lately there are so otyher formidable teams that can win it all this year. Beating the Bears is one thing, but beating Atlanta (in Atlanta), the Niners, and even the current Seahawks and Washington will be difficult if the Packers play like they did yesterday. And speaking of the Seahawks, Carroll called a fake punt when they were up over 30 points late in the game. Did he forget that he’s no longer a college coach that needs to roll-up the score to get the AP coaches votes! What a dick!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

    • Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

      i do not like carroll, but he did not make that call and apologized for it. he said they got a look that they had practiced and it was an automatic call. he said that he should have called off all fake punts/kicks but he did not think about it. like i said, it pains me to defend carroll because i think he is a sleeze bag, but i do not think that was his fault.

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  9. Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

    to me standing by crosby is the most lidicrous head scratcher at this point. the punt throwback is a snap decision, sticking with crosby is testing einsteins definition of insanity. if a WR drops 9 out of the last 18 passes thrown to him do you think he is going to see the field? this team could figure out a way to carry two kickers into the playoffs if they wanted. deactivate one of the RBs or a TE. not that big of a deal. Ryan grant will have much less of an impact on a game than crosby with his missed kicks. crosby can kickoff, but this team needs a kicker it has confidence in. MM owes that much to the other guys on the team.

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  10. mark says:

    Seriously one of the worst coached games by McCarthy I have ever seen at any level. HS,college or pro, the worst. THE ONLY REASON THE PACKERS WON WAS THEIR OUTSTANDING DEFENSE. The defense absolutely stonewalled the Bears. THE PACKERS WILL NOT CONTINUE TO WIN LIKE THIS.

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  11. Ron LC says:

    13 points, 0-7 on 3rd down, 0-2 on 4th down, and two very nice stands in the red zone says the D performed very well. Take that performance any time.

    Mike Neal showed some life yesterday and seemed to leave the game unscathed. That’s good.

    ST – Crosby and backward pass really hurts the grade here.

    The O did just enough to win. Thanks mainly to AR and JJ.

    Play calling was lacking throughout. Some of the calls I had no idea what they were trying to acomplish.

    It was a win and a meaningful win at that. So, take my blood pressure meds and get some stress relief before the playoffs.

    Go Pack!

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  12. Mark gast says:

    Although the punt return lateral didn’t work I am glad they tried because it gives other teams something to think about. Since they seemed to have this game in hand it seemed like a good time to try it.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

    • Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

      if i was an opposing teams ST coach i would be thinking, “what can i do to get them to try that against us?”

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    • Rob says:

      This may be an attempt to clear up the field a bit for Cobb. Who was it last year did something similar to the Pack?

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      • Two Bears, One Cup says:

        It was the Bears, wasn’t it? Maybe Slocum wanted revenge. . . .
        As for Ryan Longwell – maybe TT doesn’t want him because he was so buddy-buddy with Favre in Minnesota. Longwell leaves kind of a bad taste in my mouth, so imagine how Thompson feels about him (though I must admit, as a fan I will have emotional opinions, as GM Thompson is pretty emotionless. So I’d say we both play our roles well).

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  13. Corporate cheesehead says:

    Im trying to go to my packer happy place, but …. The biggest frustration is mm going away from a balanced offense each and every game for one, two or thre quarters. I could understand this if you didn’t have success with running the ball, but for the first three drives, the pack consistently gained 7+yards on runs out of strong run formations as in the past three games. Then, mm goes with three straight pass plays to kill each drive. We’ve seen too many 3rd and 10s which end up in sacks this year or Rodgers running for his life and throwing the ball away or and 3rd and short with an incomplete pass. Bottom line, the pack can overcome stalled drives due to their own play calling against average and bad teams …. Not against defenses like sf, seattle or the giants.

    Second biggest frustration is trying to run the ball out a delayed handoff in the shotgun that either gets no yards or one … Especially when you could line up with rodgers under the center and get five to seven yards … It’s probably just me needing therapy on this one …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  14. Bob W. says:

    I for the life of me cannot see how anyone could justify the lateral pass on the punt. The situation is you are looking to wrap up the division against a less than stellar offense but putting them in a quick scoring situation is by far the most idiotic call MM has made this year and he has made alot. The Crosby projest is over, the Bears picked up Mare after Gould went down and hit 2 field goals. We don’t need to find someone to make 50 yarders just make the makeable ones. Youcan see the frustration in Rodgers with MM play calling. You could read his lips when he went to sidelines on the attempted screen pass last week toward the end of the game. After this season TT needs to clean house. If he is so in love with MM, then at least bring in a good O cord. to call plays.

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  15. James says:

    I have to say I trust the Packers winning attitude and how they go about winning.
    What I am frustrated with is the Offensive Line…The Packers can certainly get back-up players in game ready situations when 1st string players go down. And Ted Thompson certainly can take credit for getting players that can fill the starting as well as backup rolls. Except I don’t know if he has exceptional skills of discovering talent on the O-Line like he does other position players. With the exception of Bulaga, I don’t see any evidence of talent on the O-line. I know some Packer fans will argue with me about Josh Sitton and TJ Lang, but they are both mediocre at best. When Sitton has played his best it was because he was in sink a few years with Scott Wells playing next to him. But that was usually only on run plays. Lang is better than College at left guard but not elite at the position. D-Smith given time to improve might be better at the position but that is still a huge question mark. At times he looked oversized, overstrengthed and in general overmatched. Derek Sherrod looks to have talent and smarts to play left tackle. He’s an incomplete in my mind. I also think he will only do well at the one position. Left Tackle. In his case you cannot try to fit a square peg in a round hole by having him play guard.
    This whole essay post was to point out my only true frustration with the Packers (which isn’t much to speak of) but illustrates the point of A-Rod being the most sacked QB in the League despite being far from immobile and does not possess the passing attempts such as Brees and Stafford. Or the immobility of Peyton Manning or Brady.
    Still if I were to grade Thompson on his O-line player acquisition I would have to grade him a C overall. He has done well to get undrafted linemen (a ‘B’ grade) but not so much drafting (a ‘D’ grade) That grade will go up if Sherrod turns out to be a solid player in the future. Newhouse is a 5th string draft pick that is no better than a backup.
    And yet still…Not to be so nit-picky, I would take all our offensive linemen over the Bears. I laughed out loud when they drafted Carimi in the first round a couple of years ago. And I knew what the result was going to be even though I am not a Pro Scout.

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    • toolkien says:

      A long way around to getting to the point that TT plays it close to the bone on the Oline than other positions, and he, more than likely, is playing a tactical game of chance. And its showing some strain with the injuries that have descended on the position this year. Perhaps it is part of the reason the Packers have stepped down about a notch – from arguably the #1 or #2 team in the league to about #6. Oh well. It stands that the Packers are the second most potent team in the league since 2007. We can quibble about an allocation of potency here, but we’d also better be prepared to point out where we’d risk less potency somewhere else. I’m sure TT and his staff could have come up with a pro-bowl Olineman to sit on the bench waiting to be the next man up, but then you don’t have Randall Cobb (for example). Rodgers could have a superior Oline and no one to throw to. I’ll concede it’s very thin, but the Packers will be getting some guys back next year. And that applies to a few other positions. Just like going from 2010 to 2011, the Packers are going to have a kick-butt draft worth of IR guys coming back as well as a real draft.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. Art Rosen says:

    I’m not sure why the commentators continue to say that Green Bay/Chicago is a rivalry. Certainly it cannot be said for the last 8 or so games they’ve played against each other. By the way, our first game against Chicago this year (week 2), Brandon Marshall caught 2 passes for 24 while Forte rushed for 20 times for 69 yards. Yesterday, Marshall caught 6 passes for 56 while Forte rushed 7 times for 31 yards. And let’s not forget Cutler’s 126 yards and 135 yards passing in the two games (passer rating 28.2 and 72.5 respectively). So a rivalry? I don’t think so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    • Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

      There’s more to a rivalry than the lack of yards allowed or gained…but shutting down the team is a part of it and offers smack talk till next year.

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  17. [...] « While We Scratch our Heads, the Packers Win Games [...]

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  18. Tundraboy says:

    whats up with Grant having more rushes than Harris?

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  19. alex parkhurst says:

    Throwback on punt play

    1) The problem was that the Pack pulled this trick play when Cobb caught the punt at our own 15/20 yard line so a miscue was dangerous.

    2) If the Bears were punting from their own endzone and Cobb fielded the punt at the 50 yard line then that makes more sense.

    3) If the Packers were up 3 scores instead of two it might have made more sense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. David says:

    Throwback on the Punt was a Great Idea at the Wrong Time to the Wrong Person.

    8 minutes to go. No reason to fool around.

    The guy out there should have been Boykins.. a guy with notably good hands. Not the Jeremy Moss just activated on 12/01/2012 who wouldn’t even have made it onto the Practice Squad without all the WR and Other Position injuries we’ve had.

    That play was almost a game killer… you don’t put the game into the (stone)hands of someone you don’t trust 100%.

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