Monday, January 12, 2004

Packers 17, Philadelphia 20. The most depressing loss in recent memory. Many games have moments when a team could win a game if they had made this play or the other, but this game had several moments when victory could have been snatched from the jaws of defeat. If Mike Wahle hadn't tripped Ahman Green on 4th down on Philadelphia's 1 yard line. If Mike McKenzie and Marques Anderson had covered Todd Pinkston in the end zone. If Javon Walker had stood up and run into the end zone instead of getting up to celebrate. If Mike Sherman had trusted his offense to make a 4th and 1 with 2:30 left in the game, except he was probably shell shocked after Wahle's earlier trip of Green on 4th down, and not had given Donovan McNabb another chance to win the game. If Bhawon Jue had covered Freddie Mitchell instead of leaving him wide open at the first down marker on 4th and 25. If Brett Favre hadn't thrown that awful interception in overtime. Favre's interception will get all of the attention, but if the Packers had executed a single one of these plays correctly, they would have won the game. Except for Wahle being pushed into Green while Wahle was pulling on the play, every other play I mentioned was either poor execution or a poor decision, and not because Philadelphia outplayed the Packers on the play.

So many players had great game for the Packers. Nick Barnett, Ahman Green, Brett Favre (except for the interception), the entire offensive line, Grady Jackson, and of course Robert Ferguson. In the end, all it did was keep Philadelphia from leading in the game until the final play. If the Packers have played Philadelphia for about 125 minutes this season (2 games plus OT), then Philadelphia has led for about 2 of the 125 minutes, but has beaten the Packers both times.

It was a duplicate of Philadelphia's earlier win in Green Bay. The Packers outplayed most of the game, but Philadelphia kept it close, waited for the Packers to make their mistakes and then made big plays when given the opportunity.

In this game, Philadelphia had little production from their running backs and the Packers pass coverage was often excellent. McNabb ended up with big passing numbers and Philadelphia ended up with big rushing numbers, but both are deceiving stats. McNabb had some success passing, but often couldn't find an open receiver and took a sack (8 sacks in the game). The pass coverage was excellent on the plays when McNabb took off and ran too, but the Packers were woefully unprepared to stop McNabb from scrambling on the busted play. The Packers did a lot of stunting, with defensive linemen running parallel to the line of scrimmage and then running at McNabb to try and generate pass pressure, but it created big holes for McNabb to run through. Philadelphia's defensive blitzing was excellent, especially in the 4th quarter and overtime when it forced Favre's interception.

I am hoping that the Packers decide/are able to keep this team together and take another shot at the Super Bowl next year. This team is so close to putting it all together, with three straight playoff appearances, and it finished strong at the end of the season, the loss in Philadelphia ended a 5 game win streak, which is a strong indicator for next season.

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