Can’t Finish Strong
After the depleted defense let up a late touchdown, Atlanta gave themselves what ended up as the final margin of victory, 33-32. If you think the game was over there however, you were sorely mistaken.
Green Bay received the ball back with not much time remaining (:31 to be exact), but it isn’t like we haven’t seen this team make something happen with little time left before. In fact, they just did so prior to halftime; with only :27 on the clock and two timeouts, the team had gone down the field in three plays for a field goal to put themselves up 24-19 at the half. It wouldn’t be easy, but the situation was eerily similar and another successful showing would give them a victory.
It seemed to start well, with Rodgers finding Janis for a quick 7 yard completion; after he ran out of bounds, the team had a 2nd & 3 on their own 32 with :26 remaining on the clock. From here, if Green Bay could garner around 35 yards (putting the ball at least at the Atlanta 35), they would give Crosby a shot at a long field goal to win it. While Crosby hasn’t attempted a 50+ yarder this season, but he has made over half of his career 50+ attempts — including 4 out of 5 last season.
He would never get the chance however, as the offense didn’t gain another yard.
On their second down play, Rodgers looked for Jordy Nelson on a mid-range strike, but they couldn’t connect. That was bad enough on its own (using up a valuable down), but it brought with it three other negatives: it used up six of the final seconds (leaving :20 on the clock), Nelson came down with an injury, and (due to the injury) the Packers were charged with one of their remaining two timeouts since he couldn’t get off the field fast enough.
After another missed completion (this time a short throw to Allison), it was 4th & 3 with :14 on the clock and just one timeout. From here, there is only time for three plays at most — one of which would have to be the field goal attempt — but first, the Packers needed a first down to even have any chance to continue the drive. Rodgers dropped back, trying to buy time while simultaneously not using up too much of the remaining clock, but nobody was undoubtedly open. He couldn’t wait too long (lest the clock hit zero), so he took a chance where he saw some space.
He had seen Davante Adams (who had already caught 12 passes on the day and seemingly was on the same page with Rodgers up to that point) had some empty field towards the sideline on his right side behind his route; Adams would need to realize what Rodgers was trying to do and make an adjustment to come back for it, but while it would be difficult it wouldn’t be impossible to complete if he took notice in short order and curbed his route to take advantage of the space that was there.
By the time he realized where Rodgers was aiming though, it was far too late. The ball hit the ground a few yards away from Adams, the comeback ending short and the game just a Matt Ryan kneel-down away from putting another line in the loss column for the Packers.
It’s a shame to see such a strong offensive effort go to waste, but this game as a whole should be encouraging for the team going forward, at least on offense. This felt like a shootout coming in even before the further defensive injuries were added to the “Walking Dead”-esque pileup hitting the roster, but we have plenty of positives to pull away from this game.
Adams continued to step up in a major way, catching 12 passes to follow up a 13 catch effort last week (setting another Packers record in the process, this time for most catches in a two-game span). The deep ball element of the offense made an appearance (deep over the middle toss to Jordy), and will hopefully be able to show up with some consistency going forward. Janis, Davis and Allison all made an impact in the larger roles thrust upon them. They kept things close despite all the injury problems on both sides of the balls. Last but not least, we saw a full game of high-level Rodgers for the first time in what feels like forever.
If the Packers can find a way to get healthier — especially on the defensive side of the ball — they may have found enough of a workable attack to go on a run and place themselves back into the conversation as one of the NFC’s top teams. Until then, we best prepare ourselves for more of these kind of high-scoring affairs — and hope like hell the Packers manage to come out on top next time.