Following a crushing loss to the Giants, the Packers season seemed to hang in the balance last Sunday. Would the Packers come out and crush their opponent and get their season back on track? Or would the Packers continue with another rocky showing that, despite their record, makes fans feel like this team is on the brink of falling apart?
The Packers ended up beating the Vikings, but it was neither a blowout win nor a disaster of a game. While it wasn’t the prettiest of wins, the way the Packers overcame adversity in the game should reassure their fans; the Packers are back.
In the Packers first loss of the season, week 1 versus the 49ers, the Packers started a pattern that would stick with them through most of the season. No points in the third quarter, a lull, a perceived lack of energy to get back into the game. Call it what you want, but it was there.
The Packers went into halftime against the Niners down 9, but with receiving the second half kickoff, there should have been little to worry about. Instead the Packers started the half with a quick three and out. San Francisco used their opportunity to score on their next drive and hold the ball for nearly seven minutes.
Finding themselves now down 16, what did the Packers do? Drove under 30 yards and then punted. The Packers finally started to come back with 11 minutes left in the game, when Randall Cobb returned a punt for a touchdown. The Packers didn’t score a touchdown on offense until there were only 6 minutes left in the game, and they were down 30-22.
In the Packers third loss of the season against the Colts, the Packers started out strong, but let the game slip away. Once again the Packers got the ball first to start the second half and once again the Packers went three and out. The Colts used that opportunity to start their comeback, scoring a touchdown on their next drive.
Also, again, the Packers failed to score any points in the third quarter; the Colts scored 16. After the Colts first touchdown, the Packers went three and out. The Colts then scored a field goal. The Packers answered on the following drive by missing a field goal. When the Colts scored another touchdown in the third, the Packers got the ball back and promptly went three and out.
The Packers failed to stop the Colts, but they also failed to answer. If at any point the Packers had responded to a Colts score with one of their own, the game could have ended very differently. But the Packers didn’t. They watched the Colts, like the Niners, continue to put them in a “do or die” position and they didn’t “do”.
And then there’s the Giants game. Again, no points in the third quarter. Again, the Packers answered most of the Giants scoring drives with no points. The game started to get away from the Packers, and the team had no answer.
It’s a frustrating pattern to watch. The Packers failing to dominate, failing to put a team away and, at times, failing to rebound when the game starts to go haywire.
All teams and players make mistakes and go through slumps. The bad teams let those times ruin games and seasons. The good teams make sure those times have little to do with final outcomes.
Against the Vikings on Sunday, the Packers went into halftime losing 14 – 10. The Vikings scored twice in the second quarter, and after both scores the Packers went three and out. Then the Packers opened the half by Mason Crosby kicking the ball out of bounds and Adrian Peterson gaining 52 yards in the first two plays from scrimmage.
It had all the markings of previously very difficult situations for the Packers. But instead, this time the team stepped up. Morgan Burnett intercepted the ball in the end zone, the Packers offense drove down the field and Mason Crosby kicked a field goal through the uprights.
The Packers scored 10 points in the third quarter on Sunday; the Vikings didn’t score at all in the second half. The Vikings had 6 drives in the second half that averaged only 4.6 plays per drive and 30 yards per drive.
The Vikings had the momentum. They had the lead. But they didn’t get the win.
Perhaps it is as simple as Morgan Burnett changed the game, or perhaps for the first real time this season the Packers found themselves in a “do or die” position and this time, they did.
It wasn’t the cleanest game. The Packers lack of sure tackling, rash of holding penalties and even more injuries were once again present. But it was a turning point game. With their backs against the wall, the Packers entire team fought back. Making defensive plays, converting third downs to culminate in an 11 minute scoring drive, the Packers put the Vikings away.
The Packers will remember fighting through this game. The Packers will use this game as a building block for the rest of the season and hopefully, won’t look back.
Jayme Joers is a writer at CheeseheadTV’s Eat More Cheese and co-host of CheeseheadRadio, part of the Packers Talk Radio Network at PackersTalk.com. She also contributes to Pocketdoppler.com. You can contact her via twitter at @jaymelee1 or via email at [email protected]
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