After the loss to Dallas, I was as mad as I've ever been following a Packer loss. Partly because I detest the Dallas Cowboys, and partly because I was convinced that Green Bay was on par with them, talent-wise. After the loss to Tampa Bay, I was mildly irritated, but ultimately accepted it because Tampa's defense was underrated and forced the Packers to try and win by doing things they weren't good at. After the loss to Atlanta, I freaked out. Despite Atlanta's renaissance, they have enough holes on their roster to be beaten, and the Pack failed to capitalize.
So how do I feel after this loss? Not much, by comparison to the other three. I fully expected a loss, but felt like a win was in the cards. Am I disappointed? Of course, I'm always disappointed when Green Bay loses. They'd have to go 19-0 for me to avoid any disappointment. But it's not like this game was easy by any stretch of the imagination. Tennessee is an elite football team this year (like you needed me to tell you that), and they won't lose unless they have a lapse in execution against a team good enough to take advantage of the opportunity.
The Titans were the better team, even though they didn't consistently show it. Ultimately, I feel much worse about the Packers being 4-4 and one game behind the Chicago Bears (who won yesterday after being down 23-13 to Detroit) than this individual loss to Tennessee.
Some things I took away from this game:
- Rodgers arguably had his worst game this season. Yes, he threw three picks against Tampa and didn't play great against Dallas, but his completion percentage yesterday was a paltry 53.7% (22/41). I'd attest most of this to Tennessee's vaunted pass defense. He also did a great job keeping the lone TD drive alive with his scramble, punctuated in a short pass to Driver. However, his two turnovers likely were the turning point(s) in the game. His interception was especially inexcusable: it was a bad decision and a bad throw. Whether he overthrew it or underthrew it, that pass was getting picked off because Jennings was trapped in bracket coverage and had no room to work because of the short field. We've prided ourselves on your good decision making, Aaron. Don't go and make us look stupid.
- Ryan Grant is starting to look like Ryan Grant again. No big plays today, but 20 carries for 86 yards and a 4.3 ypc average are encouraging signs that the run game is starting to resurrect itself.
- Donald Driver, ladies and gentlemen! He had a big stat day, going off for 7 catches worth 136 yards and a score. Glad to see that he's still a threat in the passing game, especially in that sweet stop-and-go route in the fourth quarter.
- It seems that another one of Green Bay's receivers whose academic titles shall remain undisclosed didn't have a great game. Yes, Greg Jennings had 79 yards on three catches (including a big 52-yard reception, which was a vintage Jennings YAC play), but according to some of you fine people, he did not perform the way he could/should have.
- Brady Poppinga, you better play nice or you won't get to play at all. His personal foul late in the first quarter negated a nice pass defense by Al Harris, which changed a Titan's 4th and 10 to a Titan's 1st and 10. I like Brady, but stupid stunts like this is what comes back to haunt you in close games.
- Oh, yeah, Al Harris is back! He didn't appear on the box score, but it's great to see that he's recovered from his injury and healthy enough to play. Welcome back, Al.
- Speaking of returns from injury, how about that Justin Harrell? He only had 2 tackles in the game, but it's great to see that the coaches have enough confidence in him to throw him out there against one of the better offensive lines in football.
- LenDale White's 54-yard run was the result of excellent run blocking by Tennessee. However, the safeties needed to take better angles to avoid the blockers and stop that play after 12 yards instead of letting Sir Jiggly Belly rip a 50+ yarder. I'd expect that kind of play out of Chris Johnson, not Jerome Bettis v.2.0.
- By the end of the fourth quarter, the Packer defense was gassed. Unable to force any turnovers (whereas they had to take the field after Rodgers' two turnovers) and getting beaten up by Tennessee's run game, Kerry Collins did what Kerry Collins does best and made safe throws to move the chains. We got lucky that Bironas missed the first one, but the overtime drive was more of the same from Collins and White, and you know they weren't going to miss the FG.
There were few surprises in this game. Aaron Rodgers played ok, but worse than he usually does. The Titans didn't overwhelm Green Bay on either side of the ball, but did what they're great at doing enough to eke out the close win. In summary, this was a winnable game against a great team that Green Bay squandered one way or another. But, it was close enough to (hopefully) give the guys focus on what they need to improve before visiting the Metrodome next week. The important thing is that Green Bay has a chance to regroup before the all-important two-week stretch that includes a trip to Minnesota and the first game against Chicago, a stretch which will likely determine Green Bay's playoff berth (or lack thereof).
P.S. Make sure you guys vote tomorrow.