Monday, October 15, 2007

Pack vs. 'Skins Recap

Yesterday was one of those win-ugly games that the Pack seems to be turning into an art form this season. They might not be pretty games to watch, but the results are sure pretty darn good. 5-1. There's lucky. And there's good. Sometimes, both is the way to be. That may describe the Pack so far.

While there were certainly enough problems that could have cost the Pack this win, the fact that the defense basically won this game is a good sign. The 'Skins came in with a hot young QB, a proven running back, and as things would have it, a tight end that was their best offensive weapon all day long. They also had a pretty darn good defense. The combination of all those things led to two interceptions by the 'Skins, although there could just as easily have been as many as five. There also could have a been a few fumble recoveries. Missed opportunities on the part of the 'Skins. Perhaps that's why Chris Collinsworth -- on whatever network he's on these days -- was nearly apoplectic when describing how Washington had "given the game away." They certainly did help, granted, especially with that 57-yard fumble recovery for a TD by Charles Woodson.

But give the game away? How did the 'Skins give the game away when the Pack had two missed field goals, two interceptions, and two touchdowns nullified by bad calls by the refs? In the case of the latter, Bubba Franks got one foot down in the end zone before being pushed out. On a similar play last week, the Bears receiver was deemed to have been forced out and Da Bearz got their winning points. On the second non-TD, it was called back on a phantom holding penalty against Mark Tauscher, who is one of the least-penalized players not only on the team but probably the entire NFL. Replays, and commentary by the crew calling the game, failed to indicate exactly where the penalty was. And -- in one of those "oh-oh" moments -- after the Pack recovered a fumble at the 'Skins own 9-yard line, they failed to even convert a field goal. So, let's see...the Pack leave up to 20 points on the field and Collinsworth says the 'Skins "gave the game away"? Right. Brilliant insights, Mr. Collinsworth. Yes, the 'Skins did help with dropped passes and those fumbles. But the Pack was doing its best to give the game away, too.

Still, as noted at the outset, it was the "D' that won this game. Charles Woodson had an interception and that fumble-recovery return for the winning touchdown -- his first ever fumble recovery TD, by the way. Huge game. Aaron Kampman put pressure on the 'Skins QB all day, including some clutch sacks. Nick Barnett had a couple huge stops, including a critical fourth-down play. Cullen Jenkins, KGB, Johnny Jolly, Corey Williams, A. J. Hawk, Atari Bigby, Al Harris...the entire defense all came up big. Game balls for everyone!

Brett didn't have a particularly good day although, again, he had two TD passes called back. He passed George Blanda for the #1 spot in all-time interceptions. Special teams didn't have a good day either, with rookie kicker Mason Crosby making one field goal while missing two. And, of course, the running game...well, you can't even say it sucks because that would imply there was something there to actually suck. The running game is non-existent, although it did account for an actual rushing TD early in the game. Who'da thunk it?

So, going into the bye week, the Packers are tied with the Cowboys for the best record in the NFC. They have a lot to work on. But if the defense can maintain its high level of play, and the offense can somehow find some balance, i.e., even a hint of a running game -- which is critical going into the bad weather months -- the Packers should be a lock for the playoffs. Let's just leave it at that for now.

Next stop: Monday Night Football, Oct. 29, at Denver.