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Reviews & Grades: Packers Stunned By Steelers

Jclombardi reviews & grades Packers loss to Steelers.

Guest senior writer jclombardi @

Summary: Steelers QB Roethlisberger completed a 19 yards touchdown to WR Wallace with time expiring to stun the Packers 37-36 in an offensive shootout having 973 total offense yards. The Packers stalled in their playoff run failing to hold 28-27 and 36-30 leads in the game. The 9-5 Packers are tied with the Cowboys for the top wild-card spot in the NFC.

Video Highlights:  Game Summary: ESPNCBS.

Game Balls: 1. TE Finley 2. QB Rodgers 3. LB Matthews.

Report Card–Good, Bad, & Ugly: LA vs SE:

Pass Offense—B vs B-.  QB Rodgers had a good game completing 26 of 48 passes for 383 yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and 101.3 passer rating. WR Jennings had 5 receptions for 118 yards and 1 touchdown. WR Driver had 3 receptions for 76 yards. TE Finley had 9 receptions for 74 yards and 1 touchdown. WR Nelson had 4 receptions for 71 yards.  WR Jones had 2 receptions for 36 yards and 1 touchdown. The offensive line had an outstanding game allowing only one sack.

Rush Offense—C vs C.  With a focused passing attack, the Packers rarely ran the ball. Yet, RB Grant had 8 carries for 37 yards including a big 24 yard touchdown run.

Pass Defense—F vs D-. QB Roethlisberger had a field day completing 29 of 46 passes for 503 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions.  The Steelers exposed a huge weakness in the Packers’ 3-4 defense attacking the middle zone in the passing game. QB Roethlisberger targeted Ward, Miller and Mendenhall on an assortment of short crossers and option routes between the hashes. With the Packers using pressure by their linebackers and safeties, the crossing routes allowed Roethlisberger to get the ball to his playmakers. ILB A.J. Hawk probably has seen his final snap in the nickel defense as he was benched from the package after four series in favor of Chillar, who wasn’t much better with three penalties. CB Bush was beaten for three colossal plays: Wallace’s 60-yard touchdown catch from Roethlisberger on the first play of the game; a 54-yard bomb to Ward to set up Reed’s go-ahead field goal to make it 30-28 with 3:58 left in the game; and TE Miller’s 20-yard catch on third-and-15 from the Steelers’ 44-yard line with 32 seconds left, keeping the game-winning drive alive. WR Ward had 7 catches for 126 yards. TE Miller victimized the Packers’ linebackers getting 7 catches for 118 yards. Rookie WR Wallace had 2 key catches for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Rookie LBs Matthews and Jones had 2 sacks each.

Rush defense—B+ vs B. The short-yardage defense continued their stout performance against the rush allowing only 65 yards rushing with an average of only 3.4 yards.

Special teams—C vs C. The coverage team had a solid coverage day. K Crosby missed another easy field goal committing a reprehensible gaffe in chip-shot range. P Kapinos had 5 punts averaging an average 42.2 gross..

Coaching—D+ vs C-. Outcoached & Outplayed. Also, something is seriously amiss with Crosby on field goals and special teams coordinator Slocum has yet to rectify matters. Costly infractions, especially on the Steelers’ final drive, reared their ugly head again for the league’s most penalized team.

Overall Game—B-.  In a tough road game against a hungry Steelers team, the defense choked giving the game away on its final play.

CBS Overall Game–B-. Rodgers threw for 383 yards and three scores, but was second best. The Packers defense let him down. How did they let the Steelers throw all over them like that? The decision to rush three for much of the final drive will be questioned.

CHTV Good, Bad & Ugly: Good–Rodgers, Matthews & Finley; Ugly–Crosby, Capers & Chillar; Ugly–Bush.

Rodgers vs Favre series: week 15. “Silver Fox” Vikings 11-3.  Packers 9-5.

Commentary: The bigger issue is whether Roethlisberger’s 503-yard game was an anomaly or whether it exposed flaws in the Packers’ pass defense.

Preview:  A must win home game against the Seahawks.

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