Sunday, November 30, 2008

Final: Packers 31 - Panthers 35

The Packers not only dominated the 3rd quarter but also the 4th. After going up 28-21 at the start of the final quarter, the Packers special teams once again gave up a big return, this one a 51-yarder to set up Carolina in great field position. On their possession, Carolina converted a 3rd and 11 from their own 37-yard line down to the 1 on a pass from Jake Delhomme to Steve Smith. The score was soon tied at 28-28.

The Pack then had nearly a 10-minute drive, but could not get it in from about the 1-yard line with two plays to spare and had to settle for a field goal to go up 31-28.

Once more, the Packers special teams gave Carolina a short field, giving up another 40+ yard kickoff return with under 2 minutes to go. On the first play, Delhomme converted on about a 40 yard pass play to Smith down to the 1-yard line with a minute-and-half left in the game.

The Pack had one possession to try to get a TD to win, starting at about their own 17. Too much to ask. An interception sealed the deal.

The Packers should have won this game. They had more than 400 yards of total offense. But the kickoff return coverage repeatedly gave Carolina a short field to play on most of the day. And the team's inability to rush the ball in for a TD on 2 plays from the 1-yard line with less than 2 minutes to go proved fatal. Despite the Packers overwhelming time of possession advantage, when your opponent only has to play on half the field that doesn't count for much. It's the final score that matters. And once again for the Pack, it was close but no cigar as the saying goes. How many times have we said that this year? What separates the good teams from the mediocre is the ability to win close games. The Packers have been on the short side of that more often than not this season. This was the Packers fourth loss this season by 4 points or less.

A great second half effort wasted. A season basically wasted. The Packers are 5-7, and will go 2 games down with 4 remaining to either Chicago or Minnesota after their game tonight. Face reality, Packer fans: barring a miracle of Biblical proportions, there will be no playoff berth for the Pack this year.

Pass the Pepto, please. It's enough to make ya sick. Really.

P.S. Did I mention that special teams coach Mike Stock should be fired at the end of this season? No? Well, I'm mentioning it now.