Well I guess that I was wrong, yet again. Green Bay lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars by 4 points on Sunday, their 6th loss by 4 points or less this season, ending all hopes of a playoff appearance. Green Bay needed to win out, which means they had to win their last 3 games, and Minnesota had to lose out their last 3. We needed a lot of help for the playoffs, but ultimately we screwed ourselves over.
Jacksonville started strong. They scored on their opening drive with a 30 yard touchdown pass to Dennis Northcut. Maurice Jones-Drew ran well on the dive and David Garrard, the Jagsâ€™ quarterback, looked comfortable in the pocket and was virtually under no pressure from the Green Bay defense.
The Packersâ€™ first possession got off to a dismal start. However, Ryan Grant ran the ball well and James Jones had a huge reception, the first of the game for the Packers. In spite of Green Bayâ€™s impressive red zone statistics, they were stopped and had to settle for a field goal attempt by Mason Crosby, which was good from 22 yards out.
Mike McCarthy, a coach who doesnâ€™t use the challenge flag all that often, challenged a completed pass made by Jacksonville in the second quarter. The call was overturned, which set up a Jacksonville field goal attempt. The ball was 51 yards out, but hit the left upright and bounced back into the center of the field. Jacksonville was still on top, 7-3.
Because of the missed field goal, Green Bay took over on downs. A personal foul (roughing the passer) against Clint Ingram of Jacksonville and good running by Grant put Green Bay in good field position. On this drive Ryan Grant had his first 1,000 yard rushing season. Aaron Rodgers connected with James Jones to put the Pack on top, 10-7.
Green Bay went into the locker room after the first half with a 13-7 lead.
The third quarter of the game was virtually defunct. Both teams handled the ball poorly and as a result, neither side scored. There was a positive for Green Bay, however. Their defensive line had not been doing so hot for most of the season, but during the third quarter, they were able to put pressure on Garrard.
The fourth quarter is where the Green Bay collapse finally happened. The Jags started out the quarter by stopping the Packersâ€™ fourth down attempt. On Jacksonvilleâ€™s subsequent drive, after taking over with good field position, Jones-Drew scored a touchdown, putting them on top of Green Bay, 14-13. The score was set up by a fourth down conversion by Garrard.
Green Bay answered by putting up 3 points late in the fourth. The Packers were unable march down the field with as much authority as they had earlier in the game. A few dropped passes and a sack of Rodgers made a try for 7 impossible for Green Bay. Crosbyâ€™s kick put the Packers up, 16-14.
Jones-Drew scored his third touchdown of the season just inside the two-minute warning. This fortuitous event was set up by a 40 yard pass to Northcut and aggressive running by Jones-Drew. The Jacksonville offense came alive in the fourth quarter and the Green Bay defense seemed to take a nap.
Iâ€™ve said it before, and Iâ€™ll say it again. Aaron Rodgers has no two-minute drill poise. Sure, this loss was not entirely his fault, but he didnâ€™t help. Driver and Jones both made good catches to keep the drive alive. However, Rodgers put a pass too high, and it was intercepted with only 40 seconds left in the game. The booth reviewed the call, but anyone with eyes could see that it was a spectacular interception of a poorly-thrown ball.
Jacksonville took their victory knee, sealing the Packersâ€™ fate. There will be no appearance in the playoffs for the Packers. This game was as much of a disappointment as many others had been this season. However, some good things happened. It was the first time in a while that I had seen the entire team come together. The offense played with passion even though they could not translate that energy into points and the defense even found it in themselves to stop the run some of the time and put pressure on Garrard.
But I canâ€™t help but die a little inside after watching so much promise vanish in the final 15 minutes. Even though Green Bay is first in the NFL in scoring fourth quarter points, past success could not inspire victory. Maybe I should ask Santa to give the Packers some fourth quarter courage. With the outcome of Sundayâ€™s game, it really looks like they need it.