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Once Again, Sunday’s Game Should NEVER Have Been So Close

I just watched Coach LaFleur’s post-game presser. You gotta hand it to him: he could spot some good in a nuclear plant explosion.

I’d like to be wired that way, but I’m just not. Yes there were some fine and inspiring moments, but the impressions I can’t get out of my head are two incredible lowlights.

Play 1. with 16 seconds remaining in the half, the Packers are at the Chicago 31-yard line. It’s third and four, they are just within field goal range, and they have one timeout left. Rodgers takes the snap, fades back behind the 40, can’t find a receiver, the pocket collapses, and while going down he attempts a pass which fails to reach the of scrimmage. The call is intentional grounding, and a ten-yard penalty is assessed – taking the Packers out of field goal range. Instead of a 10-3 lead, the Packers hit the locker room with only a 7-3 margin.

Play 2. With just over six minutes remaining in the game, and with the team clinging to an 8-point (one score) lead, Green Bay has a third down and four to go at the Chicago 27. As six Bears defenders clearly signify an all-out blitz, Aaron calmly fades back and is overwhelmed before he barely looks downfield for a receiver or gets his feet set. The 11-yard resulting sack put the ball on the 38, too far to attempt a field goal in this weather. A made field goal would have made the score 24-13 – or a two-score lead with a little over four minutes remaining.

As an educational service, I’m going to start compiling an NFL “Never List.” Here’s as good an entry as any to start with: on third down, when a field goal would be meaningful, and an offense is within field goal range, NEVER take a risk of being moved back beyond that range.

Both of the above plays violated this precept – and it could easily have cost Green Bay the win. Now, I understand that sometimes this occurs due to a holding penalty or the like – that’s unfortunate, but it’s not an inexcusable error.

But when your quarterback allows this to happen, or when your play caller dials up a play that opens up a real risk of winding up out of field goal range, that’s reprehensible. As to the second play, I don’t know what play was called, but the fact Rodgers started fading back tells me it was a play that took time to develop. The only pass call to make in this situation is a quick, short pass. Regardless of the call, a QB should not run out of field goal range or take a deep sack – throw the ball at some receiver’s feet, or even go to the ground if necessary.

It’s possible that Rodgers was trying to suck the blitzers in and then throw a screen, but he never even got his feet and body set to throw as he went straight backwards. Even a five-yard sack would have left open the possibility of a presumptive game-sealing field goal.

That Aaron Rodgers, an elite 16-year veteran and future NFL Hall of Famer, would commit such a blunder is remarkable. That he did so twice in less than half a game is astounding.

Not too long ago, TP’s Jason said that Aaron’s performance difficulties are mental, not a result of the aging process. I completely agree – any physical performance decline we’re seeing in Rodgers (who just turned 36) to date would be minor.

Packers RB Aaron Jones breaks tackle against the Bears

Dec 15, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) breaks a tackle by Chicago Bears cornerback Kevin Toliver II (22) to score a touchdown in the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Playoffs Await

Heartiest congratulations to the Packers, who my iPad is just telling me that, due to the Rams loss, is assured of making the playoffs. Though most observers don’t think Green Bay has a roster with enough talent to go far, it’s a significant achievement for first-year head coach Matt LaFleur.

After watching the Packers-Bears tussle, I’m more worried about mental errors and lack of discipline than I am about the team’s athletic ability.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Zach December 15, 2019

    Rodgers’ struggles are inexplicable. How can a guy that smart be making the same mental errors week after week? The flashes of what he used to be are still there, which makes it all the more frustrating.

    1. thomaslind949yahoocom December 16, 2019

      Maybe he’s not as smart as they make him out to be. Maybe he’s more stubborn than smart, like Mike McCarthy was.

      1. Jonh Sachs December 17, 2019

        My thoughts exactly. Still runs the play clock down to zero, constantly uses the hard count even though it rarely works and has caused many a false start and holds onto the ball. All issues we had last season that he refuses to change.

        1. PF4L December 17, 2019

          Exactly….To make things worse, he’s too old to learn the position now.

  2. Monte Preabt December 15, 2019

    you continue to out perform yourself Rob. Always half empty….never half…

  3. NobodysBurfect December 15, 2019

    You were more fun when you wrote about Brett Goode’s 40 yard dash time.

    Hey Rob I have a genuine request – look up the stats for us regarding winning percentages (including playoffs, and specifically superbowls), in relation to QB’a and head coaches. Obviously Belichick/Brady have won more than any modern (or ever?) team together, who else is up there? Lombardi/Starr I’m sure, but get a list going for us of most successful head coach/qb tandems. And differentiate between teams that had a good winning percentage vs teams that actually made the playoffs, or won the superbowl (or multiple SB’s).

    Because right now our moody millenial quarterback (I’m a millennial too, it’s just funny to call him that), and our first year millennial head coach, just got us to the playoffs. This is after our gen-x GM made incredible offseason acquisitions on defense and in the draft (save for Gary, who actually showed up tonight though!).

    I see what’s happening here.

    Rob – you used to be my favorite writer here, what’s going on? How’s your 40 time these days?

  4. Henkster December 15, 2019

    Rob you are right on, HOF qb because of what he did in the past is commendable, but we are playing for a championship now and these mistakes and lack of discipline to play within the system won’t get them far in playoffs. Against the best teams Mr. Rodgers can’t carry us anymore unless he is willing to change his ways.

    1. Kato December 16, 2019

      What happens if MVS catches that first throw? Maybe we are talking about a different ballgame

      1. Stickman December 16, 2019

        Please put #83 on the practice squad & cut #81. Neither one of these guy`s should see the field again this year. Time for something new #13,#16,#17. And just my opinion, let #12 call his own game

        1. thomaslind949yahoocom December 16, 2019

          #12 just might be calling his own game already, stickman.

          1. PF4L December 17, 2019

            That’s probably it.

          2. Stickman December 17, 2019

            yeah but i`d bet it`s more like 50%. Just a thought, say you put 5 dimes on a game. U want #12 or LaFleur making that call. Nothing against LaFleur, but my money is on #12.

          3. PF4L December 17, 2019

            There is structure in the NFL. The QB has the right to change a play, he may even call all the plays in a 2 minute offense. But there is structure. Anyone who doesn’t know that, doesn’t know what they are watching.

  5. SCPKRFAN December 16, 2019

    I think Bulaga’s penalty was one that certainly set the stage for a comeback by the Da Bears. Mental mistakes by a Pro- bowler are egregious. This team, when facing adversity does find a way to win, and that is what counts at the end of the day. I do notice our D gives up a lot yards in the middle routes, but in the Red zone is pretty solid. I am headed to the land of Sokol today from Myrtle Beach yeah me…

  6. Kato December 16, 2019

    Yeah, on that last 3rd down play I have a difficult time blaming Rodgers there. I think that was more the playcall. You know the bears are going to bring a blitz on that play because they desperately are trying to knock them out of field goal range. Run the ball, hope for the best, attempt the field goal if you don’t get the first down.
    I have come to terms that this team’s identity is to win ugly. They are never going to go out and win decisively. It’s been discussed here at nauseum, they are going to rely on turnovers and red zone defense, and the offense having occasional big plays and being efficient in the red zone, and not turning the ball over. This is what they are for better or worse.
    Last thing that is really on my nerves, I like Zadarius Smith a lot and what he has done for this defense. But I absolutely hated what he was doing on the last play when the bears nearly got a miracle TD. He was literally WALKING down the field. Run your ass down the field and try and make a play

    1. Jonh Sachs December 17, 2019

      A veteran qb seeing a blitz coming up the middle and not getting rid of the ball quickly but instead takes a sack knocking them out of field goal range is all on the qb IMO.

      1. PF4L December 17, 2019

        I wish you guys would make up your mind. You want him looking for a blitz or looking for open receivers?

        1. Kato December 17, 2019

          Well, reading a defense and looking for where pressure could come from and adjusting the playcall at the LOS is the QBs responsibility… But nothing can be even partially Rodgers fault

          1. PF4L December 17, 2019

            Please disregard my post Kato…clearly…i have an alcohol consumption problem.

  7. Yawa December 16, 2019

    Fucking cold, receivers dropping balls and a divisional game against a team playing for their season. Sure it was ugly but it’s another win, you have to be good to be lucky.

    1. thomaslind949yahoocom December 16, 2019

      LeFleur and Rodgers were saying how great it is to play in the snow and cold. Like the cold is their friend. The cold is no one’s friend! I’d bet my last buck that at least half the team wishes Lambeau had a dome. They practiced outdoors for the last two games, too. I hope the cold doesn’t have anything to do with those drops.

  8. Zwoeger December 16, 2019

    All is said but to add a positive special teames improved not only with Erwin returning. One question: was it not allowed to brush the helmet of a GB lat alone slap it?

  9. PF4L December 16, 2019

    Well….it hasn’t been pretty has it? At the same time 11-3, is 11-3. Trust me when i tell you…that i’m just like every single one of you, thanking God we have Aaron Rodgers.

    1. KzooPackFan December 16, 2019

      And, instead of 16 meaningful games this year, we will get at least 17. Bonus Packer football!

  10. Just North Of The Wall December 16, 2019

    It’s year 1 of a new coaching scheme and the turn around from last few seasons is remarkable. If nothing else take away from this season at least we can’t be made to do Hard Knocks next season now!!!

    1. KzooPackFan December 16, 2019

      Great point on hard knocks!

  11. PF4L December 16, 2019

    There was talk in the last few weeks that Trubisky has found his way. Matter of fact, a bear fan snuck in here a few days ago saying….”Now that the bears got their offense back” I replied to him, once i stopped laughing.

  12. Howard December 16, 2019

    Two words seem to follow this years Packer team wins and ugly. After the last couple of years I will take the Packers walking off the field Wugly. This may be one Wugly team, but they do it together as a team.

  13. PF4L December 16, 2019

    The problem is…Championship teams aren’t usually described as ugly. I don’t know where the free agent signings are going to put us as far as the salary cap in the near future, but Gute needs to start hitting, you can’t afford to draft so many players that don’t contribute at this stage.
    This team is clearly not ready and i never expected them to be ready to be Championship caliber this season. That isn’t really a knock on anyone, it’s just reality and the clock keeps ticking.
    I’m sorry, but aside from the Smith Brothers, the talent pool hasn’t increased enough. Now….we all love the Smith Bros. Has that translated to more sacks than last season?

  14. R.Duke December 16, 2019

    Jenkins and Turner improved the sieve flow coming from the middle the past few years. They needed another WR as a free agent but Gutedkunst would not venture into the world of the October trade deadline.
    Lindsley played a bit better, but was still bull rushed into oblivion when the pressure was applied by the Bear’s front. This team has to get a better sense of power football on some of the key fourth quarter drives. Would really like to see Jones and Williams in tandem, pro sets in the backfield to keep Barr and Kendricks honest this week. Let Rodgers open it up full throttle on the queens secondary. Put the pressure on them.

  15. Kato December 16, 2019

    I am just going to enjoy this for a few days. This team has done more than pretty much anyone could have predicted. I didn’t expect it. Winning is winning, and it is hard to win every week in the NFL. Ask the 49ers. Anything can happen.

    1. PF4L December 17, 2019

      For someone who is just enjoying this you sure do seem to bitch a lot.

  16. Adam December 16, 2019

    While I agree with the overall sentiment that the wins haven’t been overwhelmingly confidence inspiring, I’ve been trying to stay grounded to the same expectations we all had during the offseason. Not a single one of us expected this team to be where they are right now. A 9-7 season was probably the most optimistic outlook, while the majority of us were expecting something along the lines of 6-10 or simply .500. They’ve exceeded expectations and provided valid hope for a deep run – something no one had this team pegged for.
    With that said, I think it’s also reasonable to acknowledge they might not be quite as strong as the record indicates. Wins are wins – they’re tough to get against anyone in this league and you’re never going to apologize for them, whether its pretty or not. But at the same time it should be objective to anyone watching every week that when compared to their peers atop both conferences, they don’t quite seem to measure up the same. Do any of us at this point feel like they can go toe-to-toe with the Ravens right now, or take the Saints down in any potential trip to New Orleans, or win a rematch against the Niners after getting thoroughly destroyed a couple weeks back? And that’s not even including the Seahawks who might be the hottest team in the NFC, or the Vikes who we love to shit on but have beaten us five of the last eight meetings, not including last years’ tie game.
    It’s ok to adjust expectations as the season unfolds, and rightly so. They’ve gelled and might have the building blocks in place to contend for the next 2-4 years. But let’s not lose focus of where we all thought this team would be 6 months ago. Enjoy the moment. If they get hot and make a run like they did in 2010, all the better.

  17. PF4L December 16, 2019

    I’ve had my boys liquefy all of my holdings…everything i own is going on the Packers getting 4 1/2 against the queens. I didn’t realize how wealthy i was, holy shit. Just tallying up my assets, all told, right now i’m worth $11,512.94. Yea, you read that right, almost 12 grand. I don’t want anyone getting an attitude with me now because i’m rich. So be cool.

    1. PF4L December 16, 2019

      Fun crowd

  18. Kato December 16, 2019

    Packers missed yet another deep shot to Sternberger down the sideline that probably would have been a TD. Sigh

    1. PF4L December 16, 2019


      1. PF4L December 16, 2019

        But then again…maybe we should let him catch his first pass in the NFL before we start making TD pass predictions.

        1. Kato December 17, 2019

          Or, maybe Rodgers focuses on throwing to people that are open since that is apparently “very rare” regardless of the NFL production to date? Everyone starts off their career with 0 receptions. Eli Manning clearly had no issue throwing a high stakes pass to David fucking Tyree on a game winning drive in the super bowl. I would like to think this defense is going to cost us a playoff game before the offense will, but I don’t know.

          1. PF4L December 17, 2019

            The thing i like about Eli Manning, is i don’t think he’s ever missed an open receiver

  19. PF4L December 16, 2019

    Congrats to Drew Bree’s…..When talking about the GOATS of NFL QB’s…if Bree’s isn’t in the conversation, it’s not worth having. Total Respect.

    1. MMSUCKS December 16, 2019

      Speaking of the Saints, Green Bay really shit the bed getting rid of T. Hill. good lord! That is like the Cubs getting rid of Lou Brock years ago . . . Always remember, Gute was part of that brain trust.

      1. Jonh Sachs December 17, 2019

        McCarthy would have never utilized him like the Saints.

      2. Kato December 17, 2019

        Idk if it is quite on the level of the cubs getting rid of Lou Brock lol. But I get your point

  20. Deepsky December 17, 2019

    When Rodgers took that sack on third down taking them out of field goal range, I blew a gasket. In Rodgers defense, it happened pretty fast, Jones fell straight back blocking, which seemed to draw Rodgers attention, no one was open short, plus he got hit in the head with a hand which should have been a penalty on the Bears for roughing the QB.

    1. KILLER December 17, 2019

      OMG! You’re complaining about a maybe missed call (it should not have been called and wasn’t) after your team was just given it’s 3rd referee awarded victory of the year? What??? In the Bears game the refs took away a takeaway by the Bears (on the punt deep in Packer territory) with a fictitious call, also called a fictitious hold on Bear punt return, AND called a 3rd down for 1st down Bear reception at the 2 as out of bounds when it was clearly in bounds!

      Yet… you… complain….!

      If not for refs bought off or instructed by the NFL to help the Packers the Packers would have lost to the Lions, the Vikings, and the Bears. All home games for the Packers. All division rivals. See the pattern here? Another home game the refs did their best to give the game to the Packers but the Eagles still managed to win.

      Combine this with how the Packers get all home Thursday night games, extra home games early the year to build confidence, and being the only team who never has to go to London (which basically ruins a team whole year). The scheduling favoritism has added at least a couple more victories to the Packers.

      This team should be, in fairness, 6-8.

      1. PF4L December 17, 2019

        Says the cross dressing queen fan whose team got given a victory by blatantly holding a receiver by the jersey against lowly Denver in the end zone that a blind person could see, but no flag.
        I’m sorry for interrupting Lady Boy, carry on with your whining.

        1. KILLER December 17, 2019

          There’s the troll we know and don’t love. I’d seen an upgrade in your online behavior since being called out (pointed out factually) as a troll but, alas, you could not make it last.

          The play you refer to was not interference and did not effect the play. Packers defenders do worse than that 7 or 8 times per game and don’t get called. Stop your whining ye whom be so spoiled by the refs.

          All you do is whine and then claim other people whine. Typical Packer hypocrisy. You embody it.

          1. Kato December 17, 2019

            *Affect lonely boy. Typical poor grammer and lack of understanding of where to use what words for a Queens fan. I have explained to you why the Packers haven’t played in London, but you completely ignored me you fucking cock. PF4L happens to not be a troll, but a loyal Packers fan, on a PACKERS MESSAGE BOARD you idiot Queens fan, which makes you the troll.
            Jason, I am normally all for freedom of speech, but can we block lonely boys IP address? It’s probably for his own good

          2. PF4L December 17, 2019

            In defense of the Lady Boy, he should enjoy the freedoms we all do on this site. This site is above and beyond any other site i’ve seen because of the freedom given to post without threat.. If that is going to hold true, we can’t ban someone just because they don’t have a life, skip their meds, or we just don’t like them. And besides, so he gets booted from here, i’m sure he has 20 other sites he post at.
            Besides, if he’s gone, then i’ll have to find someone else to laugh at. Having him here is a positive aspect of my recovery. Lets just enjoy him for what he is…the red headed adopted step child with special needs that nobody else wants. I’d like to think we’re better people than to leave him homeless at a bus station.

          3. Kato December 17, 2019

            Ok, you are right

          4. KzooPackFan December 18, 2019

            What’s wrong with red heads??