Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Packers 17, Chicago 24. It was good to see the team rebound from the Baltimore disaster and play hard against Chicago. It was bad to watch the team lose in their usual 2005 manner; death by turnovers and poor special teams. Although the poor special team play was confined to K Ryan Longwell in this game.

First Half: QB Brett Favre threw 4 INT and had a QB rating of 44.3, but played his best half in weeks. He led the team down the length of the field on the first three drives and the Packers controlled time of possession. Favre hadn't been hitting his wide receivers in recent weeks, but completed passes to 4 different WRs and 8 different receivers overall in the first half. WR Andrae Thurman had 3 catches to increase his season total to 7 catches. New WR Rod Gardner had 2 catches. Favre was spreading the ball and moving the team despite the nonexistant running game. Unfortunately, the first drive ended on downs, the second scored a TD, and the third was Longwell's first missed field goal. The pass defense started out the game as badly as it played in Baltimore. WR Mushin Mohammad had 3 catches early and WR Bernard Berrian had two big catches that led to touchdowns. The big problem on offense was the injury to C Mike Flanagan. Flanagan hasn't looked great this season, but he was playing well in the game before a groin injury knocked him out. The Packers brought in LG Adrian Klemm to replace Flanagan and the offense never looked the same. Starting RG William Whitticker has struggled this season and was deactivated for the game, but he has to be better than Klemm. Favre had an interception late in the first half, but it was a great play by CB Charles Tillman. Packers 7, Chicago 14.

Second Half: The defense wakes up after slumbering for the previous six quarters. Chicago punts 4 times in the half and turns the ball over on downs once. Chicago is able to run for almost 100 yards in the half, but QB Rex Grossman only throws for 37 yards. Chicago is trying to run the ball more, but they only manage to score 3 points on offense. Longwell misses another field goal. Favre really falls apart in this half and all the good things he had going in the first half disappear. Part of the problem is the play calling. It appeared that the Packers were too concerned in protecting Favre. There was some justification; with Klemm in the game, LG Scott Wells shifted to right guard and RG Grey Ruegamer switched to center. The offensive line had never played with this lineup all season and they were using it against the best defense in the NFL. The interception Favre threw that LB Lance Briggs returned for a TD was an awful decision; it didn't look like Favre could see anything on that side of the field with the pass rush in his face and just threw to were he knew FB William Henderson should be. The biggest surprise in the game was the punt return for a TD by WR Antonio Chatman. CB Ahmad Carroll has been a big surprise as a kick returner the last couple of weeks, but Chatman hadn't gotten any blocking on punt returns all season. It was the second big play by the special teams in two weeks and it kept the team in the game after the terrible Favre interception and all the missed field goals. Even new P Ryan Flinn looked better than P B.J. Sander had looked the last few weeks, although that is a back handed compliment. Favre's third interception was a play Favre has been attempting over the last few weeks; throw the ball downfield and hope for the best. He did look better on the last drive when Longwell actually made a short field goal. The last Favre interception wasn't his fault; he was trying to make something happen on 4th down after sacks on the previous two plays. Packers 17, Chicago 24.

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