Total View: Bills 21, Packers 13
Green Bay Packers fans spent over three hours Sunday watching a thorough shit show, when they would have been better off doing virtually anything that didn’t involve the nipples, two jumper cables and a car battery.
The Packers won the toss and elected to take the ball and get Aaron Rodgers on the field as soon as possible. After watching the tape, the Packers would like to challenge that decision.
The Packers started in their regular offense with three receivers and Andrew Quarless lined up in the backfield with Eddie Lacy. On their first play, they ran the same stretch left that worked well against the Falcons. Lacy had a nice hole between Josh Sitton and David Bakhtiari and picked up 12 yards. After two more runs only garnered 3 yards, the Packers were finally forced to pass. Rodgers looked for Quarless on the comeback route. It was there, but Quarless had a defender draped all over his back and the ball went right through his hands. Get used to both of those.
In fact, I would suggest a drinking game where you drink every time the Packers drop a pass, get mugged by the defense with no flag, throw the ball pointlessly out of bounds, or attempt to tackle by grabbing a guy around the shoulder pads, but you’d be dead by the second quarter.
A litany of exciting punts by both teams would follow.
The Bills also picked up one first down before punting on their initial drive. On 3rd and 1 from the Buffalo 46, Letroy Guion again blew up a short yardage play by getting into the backfield. A.J. Hawk and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix charged through the hole left in his wake and tackled Fred Jackson in the backfield. Punt.
The Packers actually ran the ball a couple times last series and had to punt, so you know what is happening now. Rodgers dropped back and threw it three times, leading to another punt. After hitting Jordy Nelson on a simple out for 6 yards, Rodgers tried the infamous back-shoulder to Davante Adams 20 yards down the left sideline. Yeah, it still has never worked. On 3rd and 4, the Bills blitzed and Rodgers tried to burn it with a deep shot to Nelson up the right sideline. Ah… not even close. Punt.
The Bills followed with a three and out when they were called for offensive pass interference on second down and didn’t come close to recovering.
4:27, 1st Quarter – The Packers offense ran its way into Buffalo territory and came away with a field goal to make it 3-o.
On 2nd and 8 from the Packers’ 22, Rodgers tried Randall Cobb on the back-shoulder. Yeah, still not close. Do these guys practice this route? Personally, I would put it in mothballs until it actually works in practice. Fortunately, on 3rd and 8, Rodgers scrambled up the middle of the field for 19 yards. Three plays later, James Starks got around the right end for 12 yards, down to the Bills’ 33. A short pass to Nelson moved the ball to the 27. On 3rd and 4 from there, Rodgers tried Nelson on the slant. The opposing cornerback, Stephon Gilmore, foiled the play by clearly grabbing Nelson’s jersey, causing him to stumble. No call. Take a drink.
2:10, 1st Quarter – The wind continues to wreak havoc on the Packers’ kicking game, and a 30-yard shank plus poor coverage leads to a punt return for a touchdown, giving the Bills a 7-3 lead.
On the first play of the Bills’ next drive, Clay Matthews chased Kyle Orton into the arms of Guion for an 8-yard sack. The Bills would punt three plays later.
The Packers got to start their next drive at their 40-yard line, not that it mattered. On the first play, Nelson was open on the deep square in, but Rodgers threw it late and behind Nelson and nearly had it picked. On second down, Rodgers waited way too long to dump it to Richard Rodgers and when he finally did, Rodgers dropped it. That is two passes to tight ends and two drops. And take a drink. On third down, Rodgers scrambled for only 5 yards. Punt.
Normally, there isn’t a lot of danger in punting from near midfield, but Tim Masthay can make miracles happen. He not only kicked it short — 31 yards — but with little hang time. Return man Marcus Thigpen caught the ball with six Packers closing quickly. However, when Brett Goode swerved in front of Brad Jones, to cover an outside lane that Jones was already covering, a hole opened between Goode and Mike Neal. Thigpen sprang through that hole, swerved around a diving Sean Richardson and was off to the races. Though I wouldn’t count their efforts as extraordinary, Demetri Goodson and Masthay did enough to at least force Thigpen to cut back. However, because Jarrett Boykin and Brandon Bostick were merely jogging behind the play instead of actually chasing, Thigpen was able to cut back to the middle of the field and score rather easily.
14:14, 2nd Quarter – Following the punt return for a touchdown, the Packers offense rediscovers Eddie Lacy and the running game. The result is a seven-play, 80-yard drive for a touchdown that makes the score 10-7.
On the first three plays of the drive, Lacy went over the right guard for 15 yards, over the left guard for 17 yards and then over the right side again for 22 yards. The Packers were doing something different in pulling Corey Linsley, who led Lacy through holes and did well to wall off linebackers, allowing Lacy to get to the second level. After advancing to the Bills’ 12-yard line, Rodgers found Randall Cobb among three defenders, down to the 1-yard line. Eddie Lacy simply pushed the pile into the end zone from there.
8:04, 2nd Quarter – The Bills suddenly found their offense as well, driving for a field goal to tie the game at 10-10.
Even though they played good defense up until this point, for some reason, the Packers scoring a touchdown was once again the opportunity for the defense to fall apart. On the Bills’ second play, Orton threw one up for Sammy Watkins. Sam Shields overran the play and Watkins brought it in for 28 yards. On the very next play, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix charged into the backfield on a safety blitz. Running back Bryce Brown was given the ball on a draw and should have been dead in the water. Clinton-Dix doesn’t even need to tackle Brown at this point, just hold him up long enough for the rest of the defense to get there, but instead, he dove for Brown’s legs and missed. Brown went easily around the end that was vacated by Clinton-Dix and gained 12 yards.
On the following play, Robert Woods executed the back-shoulder catch by shoving Shields off hard enough to send him to the ground. Woods hauled it in on the sideline for another 18 yards, down to the Packers’ 19-yard line. A couple plays later, the Packers defense mixed in a blown coverage by allowing Scott Chandler to run an out with no one watching him. He got 10 yards, down to the Packers’ 8-yard line.
The Bills would collect an offensive holding call shortly thereafter and go no further. The short field goal by Dan Carpenter tied the game back up and ended the first half scoring.
On the Packers’ next drive, Rodgers threw one of his best passes of the game on an out to Cobb from the slot. Cobb took the ball in and raced up the sideline for 19 yards. A dump to James Starks then picked up 10 yards, well, actually 9 yards, but the refs marked it as a 10-yard gain and a first down. However, on 2nd and 8 from Buffalo’s 35, Rodgers throws a stop to Nelson like he is leading Nelson upfield, except Nelson sees the defender coming and wants to stay where he is and not go upfield. Gilmore jumps the play and should have had a pick six, but he bobbled the ball and a desperate swat by Nelson helped him drop it. On third down, Rodgers threw the ball worthlessly out of bounds in Adams’ direction again and take a drink.
Mason Crosby entered the game to attempt a questionable 53-yard field goal. It was blocked by Mario Williams and that makes six kicks blocked against the Packers this season. Huh, that move needs a little work.
The teams traded two more punts before a Tramon Williams’ interception should have given the Packers the ball near their 35-yard line with just over two minutes left in the half. However, during Williams’ return that never happened, Sam Barrington took it upon himself to blindside Fred Jackson as he pursued Williams. This not only started a fight, but also backed the Packers up 15 yards, forcing them to start their two-minute drive at their own 19.
A dump to Lacy was the only play that gained any yardage. Rodgers threw incomplete on third down again and the Packers were forced to punt again. A great bounce helped Chris Banjo down the ball at the Bills’ 2-yard line. Unfortunately, the Packers burned two timeouts during the half, as is typical for this team and thus the great result on the punt was wasted. The Bills simply ran the clock out.
9:25, 3rd Quarter – The Bills started the second half with 10 straight runs that led to a field goal and a 13-10 lead.
Apparently realizing that they were getting nowhere throwing the football, the Bills finally decided to stick with the run, and the Packers rewarded them by having a miserable time tackling whoever got the ball. The Bills ran the ball to the Green Bay 33 before finally trying a pass on a 3rd and 5. The Bills ran the same cross out of the bunch that worked for the Vikings and Falcons. It worked again here. In fact, the defense was nowhere near the play, but the pass was a little behind Woods and he dropped it. The Packers continue to line up with the outside guy in off coverage while the inside guys line up tighter to the line of scrimmage, even though that coverage can NOT cover that underneath cross even if it were run 100 times.
Regardless, the drop forced Carpenter back onto the field, who promptly nailed a 51-yard field goal because that is how that guy rolls.
4:20, 3rd Quarter – A blown coverage on third down helps the Bills get another field goal to go up 16-10.
Apparently there is some rule that the Packers MUST be called for offensive holding on their first drive of the second half. This time, the Packers managed to get past midfield before the inevitable foul was called. Mario Williams batted down a pass for the sideline that appeared promising on the next play and the Packers punted after Rodgers threw high of Cobb on 3rd and long.
On 2nd and 10 from the Bills’ 35, running back Boobie Dixon — seriously — appeared corralled by Micah Hyde in the backfield. Five Packers converged on Dixon from every direction. However, when Mike Daniels came in from the side to hit Dixon, all the other Packers’ defenders hesitated. Dixon spun off Daniels’ hit and got to the far sideline for a 6-yard gain. On the next play, Sam Shields came on a corner blitz, leaving no one to cover Bryce Brown, who lined up across from Shields. Fortunately for the Bills, Orton was looking that way and tossed it to Brown for a 40-yard gain. On the same play, Hyde and Morgan Burnett both covered the tight end, suggesting that one of those two guys was blowing their assignment.
The Bills only got 2 more yards from there, but Carpenter came in and kicked a shorter field goal to put the Bills up by six.
9:23, 4th Quarter – Aaron Rodgers threw interceptions on two straight series, and the Bills took advantage of the second one to increase their lead to 19-10 with time becoming short.
On the Packers’ following possession, they only trailed by six and had showed some life on their first drive of the half. However, on 2nd and 7 from the Packers’ 23, Rodgers made his worst play of the season so far. The Packers ran a great route pattern against the single deep safety, with Cobb running a deep slant and Nelson running a stutter and go. Normally, Nelson would always be the primary receiver on this play. You expect the safety to jump the deep slant and forget about the fly route on the other side of the field.
The play worked perfectly and the Bills blew the coverage. The safety jumped Cobb on the slant while the corner let Nelson go, leaving him wide open running down the right sideline. For whatever reason, Rodgers was locked onto Cobb and he still could have had a big play if he threw a decent pass. Instead, he threw late and behind Cobb and the safety — Redskin castoff Bacarri Rambo of all people — picked it off, returning it to the Packers’ 29.
As painful as that play was, a Clay Matthews sack knocked the Bills out of field goal range and they had to punt. The punt was downed at the 2, however, which is where the Packers took over.
On the second play of their next drive, the Bills were too aggressive on the slant and go and Nelson popped free down the sideline again. This time, Rodgers was looking for him and dropped a perfect pass into him. In a sure sign that this game is lost, Nelson dropped it. Nelson appeared to check where the safety was even as the ball hit his hands. Mistake. It appears unlikely that the safety would have caught Nelson and even with everything that had happened before, the Packers lead 17-16 if Nelson catches this pass. Take a drink. Hell, for that one, take two.
However, a long touchdown drive would do the Packers even better than a quick score and it appeared that they had a chance for that as they started to ring up first downs and move the football down the field. After Nelson caught a 16-yard pass on 3rd and 8, the Packers put Cobb in the backfield and the Bills struggled with covering and tackling Cobb. He steadily moved the ball to the Bills’ 34. On 3rd and 4 from there, the Packers ran a slant to Boykin, cutting underneath Adams and Nelson. On the play, Nelson and Adams were both open, as was Richard Rodgers on the other side of the field. However, the play was primarily designed for Boykin. It shouldn’t be.
First of all, Boykin should have cut closer to Adams, making it more difficult for the defender to follow him. Boykin cut the route too shallow, thus defeating the purpose of having the inside receivers run interference for him. Secondly, Boykin was not running hard. Like on the punt return earlier, Boykin looks like he is jogging. Lastly, this is pass interference. The NFL rulebook, which these refs appeared unfamiliar with, clearly states that it is illegal for a defender to play through the back of a receiver, even if the defender is playing the football. The defender here, Ron Brooks, ran right up Boykin’s back and used his right arm to tie up Boykin’s right arm. Without two hands to catch with, the ball bounced off Boykin’s left hand, his shoulder pad and straight up in the air like a wonderful gift for Rambo to collect again. Better take multiple drinks.
Also on this play, Bryan Bulaga was blindsided during the return in nearly the same fashion that Sam Barrington hit Fred Jackson in the first half. Difference? This one wasn’t flagged. Hahaha… Bulaga would be out for the remainder.
The Bills only had one successful play after the interception and that too was off a pass interference. They screened it to Jackson, but the key to the play was that Robert Woods, who lined up in the slot, ran directly into Clay Matthews. Matthews was singled up on Jackson and was just sliding down to stuff the play when Woods ran into him, well before the ball was ever caught. That is a pick play. Regardless, Jackson got 20 yards and after another stuffola that included a 2-yard sack by Matthews, Carpenter kicked another field goal to make the score 19-10 with 9:23 left in the game.
4:51, 4th Quarter – The Packers drove the field one last time, but they can only get a field goal and remain behind 19-13.
The Packers finally have something figured out with putting Randall Cobb in the backfield. The Bills struggle to cover him and both he and Nelson break loose during this drive. After a holding call on Josh Sitton that negated a 21-yard run by Lacy and sent Mike McCarthy into a FURY, a dump over the middle to Cobb gained 16 yards. A couple plays later, Nelson caught a pass over the middle, weaved his way through traffic and broke a couple tackles before gaining 20 yards and being tackled about 5 yards out of bounds with no call on Rambo. Huh…
After Cobb turned another short pass into an 18-yard gain, the Packers had a first down at the Buffalo 18-yard line. They would only get two more. Facing 3rd and 8 from the 16, Rodgers made a poor decision and overthrew Cobb. Cobb was held while trying to make his break on the corner route and Rodgers was likely hoping for a flag that he wouldn’t get all game. However, if Rodgers had scanned the field, he should have noticed that Gilmore had backed off tight coverage on Adams and Adams was wide open in the middle of the field. A short pass to Adams would have easily gotten the first down and likely a touchdown.
1:58, 4th Quarter – There is going to be no finish like in Miami this time. The Bills get a fumble and a safety on the Packers’ first play to ice the game.
The Packers defense needed a stop and got a stop after a couple first downs drained the clock to the two-minute warning. On the one meaningful play, Boobie Dixon got hit by A.J. Hawk and fumbled the ball at the Bills’ 40-yard line. For a brief second, it appeared that Tramon Williams got on the football. However, the key to the play was that the Packers, for one final time, never bothered to wrap up and tackle the ball carrier. Because neither Hawk nor Peppers wrapped Dixon up, he was free to jump back on the fumble and rip it away from Williams. If they had ever actually bothered to tackle him, Williams would have recovered the football for the Packers.
On the first play of the last Packers’ drive, Rodgers appeared to underestimate the wing span of Mario Williams. J.C. Tretter, who was in the entire drive before and did fine, actually had a pretty good block on Williams. Williams was being taken out of the play by Tretter and wasn’t going to be able to touch Rodgers. However, right when Williams was being pushed past Rodgers and had his arm out, Rodgers picked that inopportune moment to bring the football back behind him to throw it. That brought the ball in range and Williams knocked it out of Rodgers’ hand as he went by.
Rodgers didn’t know where the football was and everyone on the line blocked so well that none of the defenders got anywhere near it. Eddie Lacy came flying from the sideline, scooped up the ball and attempted to take it out of the end zone with the defense swarming. Except, it didn’t matter. The referee behind the play was already calling the play dead as soon as Lacy picked it up. The referee signaled safety while a bunch of Packers illustrated their unfamiliarity with the rules.
Due to the infamous “holy roller” rule, no fumble can be advanced under two minutes unless recovered by the fumbler. Since Aaron Rodgers didn’t recover his fumble, it couldn’t be advanced and thus, it was a safety. Clearly this was an unintentional fumble, which means this rule wasn’t created for this situation. However, it still applies and I’m quite sure that the Packers are the first team in history to suffer a safety as a result of an unintentional fumble and a rule created to stop intentional fumbles. Hahaha… the Packers… always breaking new ground. Anyway, game over.
It has been a long time since Packers fans saw a display like this. Everything just went bad on Sunday in Buffalo. Aaron Rodgers played one of his worst games as a pro and the rest of the offense just seemed to take their cue from there. The offensive line held up and did their job, but none of the playmakers did theirs. Bad decisions by Rodgers, inaccurate passes, dropped balls, and a referee crew intent on letting the defenses play like it was a playoff game all conspired to ruin the day for the Packers offense. When you add to that some poor tackling on defense, like usual, and a couple special teams debacles, you get a well-deserved loss.
I have been saying for years that homefield advantage in the playoffs does NOT motivate teams to play well. Teams hopefully play with urgency if the playoffs are at stake, but not so much if homefield advantage is. It just isn’t a motivator, even for a team that is so obviously better at home, like the Packers.
However, with this disaster of a game, the Packers didn’t just likely lose out on the No. 1 seed. They now quite possibly will face a game at Seattle IF they made it that far. More importantly, they’ve put their entire season on the brink and are now in danger of throwing everything away. If the Packers lose to Tampa, a place where Aaron Rodgers has NOT played well in the past, then a win by the Lions seals the division title for Detroit. The final game of the season wouldn’t even matter, other than giving the Lions a chance to knock the Packers out of the playoffs altogether by beating them.
That being said, it still remains true that everything up to the No. 2 seed in the playoffs is still there for the Packers if they can win out. The Packers would own the tie-breaker, thanks to a better conference record, on the Dallas Cowboys if both teams were to win out.
In order for this to happen, the Packers must bounce back quickly and show that the game against Buffalo was just an aberration. Personally, I can readily believe that to be the case with the offense. I still believe that the one real downfall of this team is its inability to tackle anyone. The power back — even a joker like Boobie Dixon — is the Packers’ Achilles’ heel right now, and there are teams they’ll face in the playoffs that have them.
Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers suddenly seem like Clark Kent and Superman. You never get to see both guys at once. Now that Matthews is playing at his highest level all season, Peppers has virtually disappeared. I especially enjoyed the play where maybe 200-pound receiver Robert Woods pancake blocked him. Peppers needs to find a second wind and if he finds it, maybe he can spare some for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who is missing more tackles than he is making plays.
Other than those guys, there were some good performances on defense and the pass defense, though helped by their opponent, clearly played better. We need to see another decent performance from the defense on Sunday. In fact, I want to see a sharp performance on BOTH sides of the ball before the contest with the Lions.