Monday, September 20, 2004

Packers 17, Chicago 14. That could have been the score, but it was Packers 10, Chicago 21. If RB Ahman Green hadn't been stripped of the ball at Chicago's 5 yard line and S Mike Green hadn't ran it back 95 yards for a touchdown, then the Packers would have won. Overall it was a very close game; both teams struggled throwing the ball but each piled up big rushing numbers. The biggest problem was a poor run defense. This game is similar to the loss at Arizona early in 2003; a game that looked like a win on the schedule became a loss. Hopefully this game was just a bump in the road to another NFC North championship, just as in 2003.

Offense: QB Brett Favre did not have a good game. He had a rhythm early in the game which was disrupted by a long interception on a pass attempt to WR Donald Driver. After the first quarter, he never got going for an entire drive, although he had a great second half TD pass to WR Robert Ferguson. Green looked good, except for the above mentioned fumble, although it was created on a great play by LB Brian Urlacher. The offense line played well early, but seemed less effective as the game went on. Usually it works the other way around; the o-line tires out the d-line. The pass protection was solid all game long. Once again C Mike Flanagan was replaced in the 4th quarter; was he ineffective or still trying to get back to 100%?

Defense: Solid pass defense, although the Packers had trouble covering the tight end during the first quarter. Lots of problems with RB Thomas Jones, but the Packers had problems with RB Anthony Thomas vs. Chicago last year too. Maybe the Packers run defense has a let down against Chicago. LB Na'il Diggs had a great 1st quarter but then quieted down. LB Nick Barnett was named NFC defensive player of the week in week 1, so of course he struggled. Jones usually had a big run when he squeeked past the defensive line and Barnett and/or FS Darren Sharper were caught overpursuing. CB Mike McKenzie played some and almost had an interception in his first week back from his holdout, although he did not start. CB Bhawoh Jue followed up a solid week 1 game with two penalties, although his illegal contact penalty on defense was almost a phantom call. NT James Lee, and DT Cleditus Hunt and DT Cullen Jenkins held their ground on run plays, but generated little pass rush. The defensive ends generated little pass rush and had trouble keeping their gaps on running plays. Chicago took advantage on a couple plays by reversing the play when the Packers were overpursuing, but it eventually caught up to them when WR David Terrell fumbled a reverse in the 4th quarter (unfortunately Favre threw an interception a couple plays later).

Overall, it was a very even game but the Packers had more turnovers (plus the huge fumble recovery for a TD against them) and more penalties than Chicago. Sometimes you win the games you should lose (at Carolina in week 1) and lose the games you should win (any game against Chicago). Hopefully the Packers learn from mistakes made against Chicago and win a game they are expected to lose next week in Indianapolis.

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