A Head of Cheez: Week 9

Each week, Lombardi Ave will feature a post from Cheezhead on his thoughts on the past week of the Packers.  This week’s post by him covers the Packers 19-16 loss to the Titans.

The NFL still has an undefeated team. The Tennessee Titans had their toughest game of the whole season, getting forced into overtime against the Green Bay Packers, but still came out on top 19-16. For Green Bay, it was a tough loss, and right now at 4-4 they really aren’t interested in moral victories.
The Packers played great, but the Titans played even better. Aaron Rodgers threw his third 300-yard passing game of the year, which was the first 300-yard game the Titans gave up since early last season against the Indianapolis Colts. Ryan Grant was held short of a 100-yard game but still averaged over four yards a carry, which kept the Tennessee D honest, and Donald Driver (7 catches, 136 yards, and 1 touchdown) and Greg Jennings (3, 79, 0) had nice stat lines. The offense almost racked up 400 total yards, but all of that effort turned into a loss.
It was a close game, and an important game for both teams. It would have been a big statement win for the Packers; they would still be tied for first in the NFC North and beating the then-7-0 Titans would tell the shaky NFC North (and their next opponent, the Minnesota Vikings) that they mean business. Instead, they go home saying they almost did it, and as the saying goes, close doesn’t cut it.
The halftime score was 13-10 and the Titans scored on another field goal to take a 6-point lead. But up until the last drive, the Packers owned the Titans. In six drives, Tennessee had less than 60 yards. They punted 5 times in the second half, a massive improvement for the defense, who only forced one punt in the first half. The defense did everything possible to help the offense take the lead, but it still wasn’t enough. Well, actually, it could have been enough if it wasn’t for a controversial call that will probably be on highlight reels and talk shows throughout the week.
Second down, four yards to go. Green Bay is around mid-field. Rodgers drops back and finds Jennings going one-on-one against cornerback Courtland Finnegan downfield. He throws a deep pass to Jennings, and it seems to be on the money. As Jennings’ hands come up, Finnegan wraps both of his arms around him. His right arm almost pins down Greg’s right arm, and when he did get his hands up for the catch the pass already fell incomplete. Jennings was yelling at the referee the whole way back to the huddle, but there wasn’t any call. If defensive pass interference was called on Finnegan, Green Bay would’ve had the ball at the two minute warning inside the red zone, around the 15-yard line. They could have used up all of the Titans time outs and took the lead on a touchdown or field goal and make Tenessee drive the field with little time left.
Instead, Kerry Collins, who ended up at 18-for-37, 180 yards, and no touchdowns or picks, had a 2 minute drill at his hands. The veteran was passing effectively and this situation didn’t seem to pysch him out at all. Or star rookie running back Chris Johnson, for that matter. After looking like they would settle for a first down and overtime, the offense started to run a hurry-up offense, throwing to the sidelines and running down Green Bay’s throat. Johnson would run for 89 yards on 24 carries, but on that last drive of regulation he did everything right. First downs to extend the drive, nice gains left and right, it almost seemed like the Packers were letting the game slip away. Good thing is–and this was almost like a Lawrence Tynes-New York Giants-NFC Championship Game flashback–a missed field goal gave them hope again.
Rob Bironas had a shot to end the game without overtime, but a 47-yard field goal attempt hooked to the right and missed by a matter of inches. The excitement for Green Bay most likely went away right when they lost the overtime coin-flip, though, giving the Titans the football. Tennessee had another drive like their last one, almost moving the ball at will. On a 3rd-and-short the kicking team came out. As Bironas took his steps back to line up for a 41-yard attempt, FOX Sports left the game and came back from commercial at the Seattle Seahawks-Philadelphia Eagles game. Even though many viewers missed it, the field goal sailed through the goal posts.
Even with the blown call, Green Bay had plenty of chances to take control of the game. There were at least 3-5 passes that Collins could have been picked off on. Some were tipped, other’s were just missed, and one was dropped when two Packers both went after the ball. Rodgers also had a good opportunity to score in the second half, but he ended up throwing an interception in the endzone. A turnover in Green Bay’s end of the field also gave Tennessee three points, which turned out to be the margin of victory.
So looking back, the team that made fewer mistakes and capitalized on the opponent’s mistakes the most won the game. If the Packers would have made one more great play on offense, picked off one throw, and yes, get one more call, the Titans could very well be 7-1. But the cards didn’t go their way, and we still have an undefeated team in the NFL. The Pack’s game against the Vikings this week is a must-win. Another season-sweep over Minnesota will put them over .500 again, possibly give them a shared division lead, and make playoffs hopes look better, because some games down the road can give this team problems. This game showed that the Packers can play with any team in the NFL, but right now they need victories more than moral victories and need to take it game-by-game. If they can play the rest of the season like they did against the Titans, an NFC North title seems very likely.

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Tags: Aaron Rodgers Chris Johnson Courtland Finnegan Donald Driver Green Bay Packers Greg Jennings Indianapolis Colts Kerry Collins Lawrence Tynes Minnesota Vikings New York Giants Philadelphia Eagles Ryan Grant Seattle Seahawks Tennessee Titans

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