Green Bay Packers fans got a taste of playing second fiddle once again on Sunday night when the team everyone figured would make a run for Super Bowl LVII looked more like the Cleveland Browns than the Green Bay Packers.
Losing by double-digits to the Atlanta Falcons, 34-23, the Packers illustrated once again that they are not quite yet in the league with the team they have lost to three straight times in less than a single calendar year.
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It’s starting to feel like the Packers versus the Dallas Cowboys of the 19990s or the Seattle Seahawks of recent past.
Though the injury bug again rose up and stung players like Jordy Nelson, Mike Daniels, and Davon House, knocking them out of the game, the two biggest injuries were announced even before the game began.
Offensive starting tackles Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari were both scratched from Sunday night’s lineup, forcing Green Bay to shuffle in reserves Kyle Murphy and Justin McCray as their bookend tackles.
That wasn’t a good way to start the heavyweight bout that was yet to begin.
And it wasn’t long after the start of the game that the Green Bay Packers soon lost wide receiver Jordy Nelson and defensive lineman Mike Daniels to injury. By the end of the night, wide receiver Randall Cobb was added to the injury list.
In all, there were about a half dozen or so Packers who missed time Sunday night because of injuries suffered, but the bigger problem was what was transpiring on the field as the Falcons offense ran roughshod over the Green Bay Packers’ defense most of the night and quarterback Aaron Rodgers ran for his life time and again.
The Packers won the coin toss, deferred, and then did their best matador impression by stepping aside on defense and watching the Falcons run and pass by them on their way to a 7-0 lead.
But Rodgers and the Packers’ offense came out firing on all cylinders, fortified by wide receiver-turned-running back Ty Montgomery.
It was Montgomery who finished off that first drive with a four-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 7-7 after Mason Crosby‘s extra point conversion.
It was all downhill from that point.
A ghost interference call, several missed opportunities on third down, an attempt to get rid of the ball that turned into a fumble return for a touchdown were just some of the gaffes that plagued the Packers in front of a national audience.
One of the only bright spots was Aaron Rodgers’ passing for two touchdowns, the second of which raised his career total to 300, making him the quarterback fastest to 300 TDs.
But beyond that, the Packers once again showed that they are a team in constant transition, personnel-wise.
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Still searching for their identity on both sides of the ball, the Packers illustrated quickly Sunday night why they aren’t an elite team … at least not yet.
Though Rodgers said in his press conference that the Packers can beat anyone at home, they also proved that they aren’t very good on the road when facing multiple adverse situations.
Unfortunately, the Packers don’t play 16 home games each season.
That said, they do catch a break at this point in the season and should have opportunities to demonstrate why so many thought they were the team to beat on the way to the Super Bowl.
Green Bay will host the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday and the Chicago Bears the following Thursday night – two teams that have combined to score only 31 points in their first two games. That’s three points fewer than Atlanta scored on the Packers Sunday night.
If that isn’t enough to give the Packers a chance to find their identity and help carry them through the first quarter of this season, we’re not sure what is.
Green Bay wasn’t a favorite to beat Atlanta Sunday night anyway, making this what many believed would be their first loss of the season. There is no reason the Packers shouldn’t be 3-1 through their first four games.
In the meantime, Green Bay will once again have to deal with injuries and make adjustments on the fly. Just like every team in the league, injuries are a fact of the game and stunt a team when trying to show their true colors.
We shouldn’t be sounding the alarm, but there are mountains yet to be climbed here. We’ve seen the Packers stumble before, only to come back stronger because of it.
Look to Aaron Rodgers to lead that rise from this particular gutter.
So, the Packers will once again attempt to find their identity in the middle of the fight.
Stay tuned … and R-E-L-A-X …