Sunday, October 23, 2005

Packers 20, Minnesota 23. Just an awful loss. The Packers had 5 sacks and Minnesota had zero. The Packers forced one turnover and Minnesota forced no turnovers; only the second time all season that the Packers had won the turnover battle. Those two stats should have been enough to indicate a win, but it didn't happen. The final insult of the day; all three NFC North teams won on Sunday, putting the Packers in sole possession of last place and 2 games behind Detroit and Chicago.

K Ryan Longwell missed two field goals. Longwell has been automatic for so long that it has been hard to watch him this season. Missed kicks against Tampa Bay and Minnesota would have been the difference in both of those games. It is too hard to tell if it is Longwell's fault, the holding of P B.J. Sander, or something else. There is no reason this can't be improved this season.

Minnesota had allowed the most rushing yards per game (161.4 yards/game) in the NFL this season, but the Packers couldn't run the football and couldn't put the game away. RB Ahman Green came into the game hurt and left the game early. RB Najeh Davenport is done for the season. After this weekend, it looks like only Philadelphia runs for fewer yards per game than the Packers. If they can't start running the football, then they can't win games.

The good news is that they have still outscored their opponents this season, the NFC North is still struggling overall, and the defense is improving. The bad news is that the reliable kicking game is gone and the rushing offense is gone too. The loss of G Mike Wahle and G Marco Rivera to free agency could be blamed in part for the lack of run offense, but even bigger are the injuries to TE Bubba Franks and Green. It is unlikely that the run offense can be fixed this season, but it needs to be improved if the Packers want to win some games this season.

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