There was plenty of good on the offensive side of the ball, proving that the Packers are capable of moving down the field without Rodgers. However, it became increasingly clear that the praise should go to the ranks of elite receivers. Flynn overthrew and underthrew receivers all day long. He was (deceptively) off target.
BOYKIN, JONES, NELSON
These three guys all came down with some miraculous catches. Boykin and Jones had to literally wrestle away balls from defenders who Flynn seemingly threw to. Boykin had to pick one off of the helmet of a defender in the end zone, for a touchdown early. Jones, likewise, had to steal a ball out of the waiting arms of a Steeler defender to keep a drive alive. I saw these guys contorting their bodies to make unbelievable grabs on some seriously misplaced balls. Boykin had to stretch out between two defenders on a seam route to make an improbable grab; one that should have been an interception at worst and an incompletion at best. It just looked like an all-around effort from our receivers who all deserve an immense amount of credit for putting up as many points as the team did.
Even through a nagging ankle injury (one that caught up with him in the fourth quarter), Lacy is still making a case for Rookie of the Year. He is easily the Packers’ MVP this season with Rodgers on the sideline. He rumbled his way for a 5.2-yard average on the day, with more than 80 yards of production from scrimmage on limited carries. He had a great day before seeing it end in misery. He ran for two touchdowns, including a 14-yarder that was capped off by a leaping pinwheel into the end zone. Typical of Lacy – fighting until the very end. I hated to see him on the bench near the end of the game, in obvious pain. Doesn’t necessarily look good for next week, as he could barely put any pressure on that ankle while limping off the field.
Wow, Hyde had QUITE a game. He made some great plays on both punt and kickoff returns. However, on both of his longest returns (coming at very crucial points of the game), the offense replayed him with ineffectiveness. On the first, he put the Packers in great field position near midfield. On the ensuing play, Andrew Quarless ran into Matt Flynn, causing him to float a pass right to the defense that was returned for a touchdown. The second HUGE return came right as the Packers needed it. The Steelers had just scored and left a minute for the Packers to work. Hyde took it to the Steelers 30 yard line and injured his shoulder in the process. He laid his body on the line for the prospect of collecting points and taking the game into overtime. It should have happened, too. But thanks to lack of discipline on the offensive line, a lack of timeouts and a complete fall-apart by the officials in the waning seconds of the game … time expired and the Packers left the field dejected.
Shields continues to impress. He fell down in the end zone which led to a touchdown for the Steelers, but he was spot-on for the rest of the game. He’s always a consistent tackler. He is always in the thick of things. He had some good pass breakups and he made plays when he needed to. He’s doing much more … with less help around him. If Tramon Williams would become more consistent from game-to-game and from play-to-play – the Packers corners would be formidable.
MASTHAY and CROSBY
Tim and Mason are just going out and doing their job. Not only are they asked to make field goals and pin the opposition deep into their own territory, they are also asked to be the last line of defense on the hands team. With the severe ineptitude of our special teams right now, their tackling talents were needed to stop explosive plays twice. Masthay had to make a clutch tackle to stop a punt being returned for a touchdown. Later, Crosby had to make contact with slow a runner down enough for our special teams players to catch up and make a stop on a kickoff. Watching the special teams is disgusting right now … but more on THAT later.