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Packers Season Ends With a Question Mark – Part II

The obvious shortcomings of the offensive game plan aside, there were several factors on the other side of the ball that contributed to the brutal conclusion of the Packers dream season.

The one offensive statistic that jumps off the page is Plaxico Burress and his 11 catches for 154 yards. Given the season long pat on the back of the Packers two “shut down” cornerbacks, they had few answers for Burress. Playing bump and run coverage led to too many inopportune flags, and playing a cushion provided just that, room to break off routes and pick up 8-10 yards, playing a crucial role in the 18 minute differential in time of possession.

The defense did a decent job shutting down the run while Brandon Jacobs had the ball, but the elusive quickness of rookie Ahmad Bradshaw proved to be too much when the Packers desperately needed a defensive stand in the fourth quarter

Contributing to these factors was what appeared to be a frustrated and/or undisciplined defense committing penalties at the wrong time. With the Packers up 10-6, the Giants opening drive of the 2nd half started on their own 31-yard line. On 3rd and nine from the NY 43 an illegal contact penalty on Harris negates an interception (though the call could have gone either way) and was followed up by another 3rd down a penalty, this time roughing the passer on Nick Collins after a pass was batted down at the line of a scrimmage.

Having started the drive at their own 31, the Giants eventually got in the endzone, needing to gain only 49 yards on their own to do so. One would like to think that stopping this drive would have given GB motivation enough to drive for another score of their own thus extending the lead and taking control of the momentum game. Fast forward to the 4th quarter…7:46 left on the game clock….4th and 6 at the GB 34…Giants elect to go for it… a bobble is tipped and grabbed by the Giants Steve Smith but is short of the 1st down, Woodson is flagged for interference extending NY’s possession.

Though they missed a field goal attempt to take the lead, that change of possession would have shifted momentum in the Packers favor, yet again, with plenty of time on the clock to drive down for a winning score. While penalties are going to be called on both teams, the timing could not have been worse for the GB cause.

In addition to all of this, there is one more statistic that cannot be ignored. The Giants had FIVE fumbles in this game, only ONE of which was recovered by Green Bay, and that came during the return of an interception.

In what could have sealed the game for the Packers with 2:30 remaining, Jarrett Bush elects to try and pick up a fumbled punt return at the Green Bay 41. Rather than DO THE RIGHT THING AND FALL ON IT he whiffs, thwarting another potentially huge swing in momentum. This play in itself was one of a number of examples of poor play on the part of special teams.

Though weather played a part, a 32.2 yard avg on punts is not what is required to be effective in a game of this magnitude. In addition, on five kick returns the Giants averaged 24.2 yards with a long of 36, as opposed to the Packers averaging 20.6, bolstered by Tramon Williams 49 yard return. Remove that and we are looking at 13.5 yards, almost 9 yards shy of their season average.

While fingers can be pointed at a number of things, plain and simple the Packers failed to take advantage of the Giants misfortunes whereas NY did not return the favor. It has been a great season by any measurement, but when the ultimate goal is of course playing in the last game of the season, and then winning it, a loss like this can only be considered a disappointment. One that will leave PackerNation asking that timeless question…what if? And for most of us, holding on to the thought….there’s always next year.

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One Response to “Packers Season Ends With a Question Mark – Part II”

  1. sweetjones03 says:

    I just don’t know what to do with myself!! all the clatter from co-workers. HOw could I be so high and so low. I had to play a madden game just to get the taste out of my mouth. I beat the giants like 5 times in w row by 20 points. i still don’t seem right. So on with the Yung Aaron Rodgers era!!!

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