Second-ever Schofield Report. Eject it out an airlock, destroy it (with FIRE), shoot it (like we WANT to do with Slocum), toss it out (what we ALSO want to do with Slocum), do whatever you want with it (preferably, fire Slocum). Just give me feedback!
Well, that wasn't what I expected at all.
The Patriots improve to 12-2 after defeating the Packers 31-27. Green Bay is now 8-6. A quick recap of the season...
Bears 20, Packers 17: Poor play by the Packers allows the Bears to stay in the game, and the Bears win a game the Packers would love to have back.
Packers 28, Detroit 26: Packers do just enough to win, but this game tastes bad afterwards.
Redskins 16, Packers 13: Rodgers knocked out in OT, another game the Packers would love to have back.
Dolphins 23, Packers 20: Packers can't close out Dolphins in regulation and lose heartbreaker at home.
Packers 28, Vikings 24: Packers finally close out an opponent, with no small amount of help from a certain QB 4's interceptions.
Packers 45, Cowboys 7: Wade Phillips gets axed after a horrible performance.
Packers 31, Vikings 3: Packers thwart unfounded revenge AND sweep the Vikings for the first time since 2007.
Falcons 20, Packers 17: ST can't stop big kick return, and defense can't stop Falcons from marching into FG range for the game-winner after an epic drive of their own.
Last 3 Games...
Packers 34, 49ers 16: A game that was too close for comfort in the 1st half turned into a 2nd half blowout.
Lions 7, Packers 3: All-around offensive futility results in a gut-wrenching loss.
Patriots 31, Packers 27: details below
The Scene was Lambeau, 2006. The Packers played the Patriots. Scratch that, the Packers got DESTROYED by the Patriots, 35-0 at home. While Green Bay was able to pull out a .500 season, the blowout loss to perennial contender New England was a devastating blow to a team coming off a 4-12 season.
The Packers had the chance to move to 3-1 against AFC East opponents this season, having shut out the Jets, blown out the Bills, and been stunned by the Dolphins at home. An upset in Foxborough was not expected; the Packers were 14-point underdogs.
But the game didn't factor out that way at all. The Packers started out the game with an onside kick and played up to the level of a very good Patriot team, managing to take a 27-24 lead in the 4th quarter despite a Matt Flynn interception for a touchdown (Kyle Arrington). Eventually, Brady led the Patriots down the field in six plays for a touchdown to take the lead, 31-27. The Packers drove the field, but Matt Flynn's LSU-clock mismanagement tendencies bloomed at the worst possible time; on 4th and 1, Flynn was sacked. Flynn fumbled the ball, Vince Wilfork recovered, and the Patriots won the game.
Passing: Matt Flynn had a heck of a first start for the Packers; he managed to put together a very solid game, but he made some inaccurate throws on the game (the worst of which was an Evr*dge-esque interception to Kyle Arrington, who broke 19 tackles on his way to the goal-line). His 4 TD passes, however, were not what anyone expected (one was NOT to the Packers).
Grade: B+. Flynn had the pick six, but he did lead the Packers on long drives on the road in a stadium where the Patriots seldom lose, as well as throw 3 touchdown passes. Flynn is easily the best backup QB in the NFC North. Still, that horrific clock management gaffe is SO 2007 LSU, and he needs to dump that before a team takes a chance on him as a starting QB.
Rushing: After a horrible game against Detroit, the Packer running game FINALLY took off. Brandon Jackson's 99 yards rushing on 22 carries (4.5 YPC) finally looked good, and John Kuhn had a solid day receiving and rushing the ball. Still, they could have done a better job inside the New England 10, but compared to the previous week's disaster (when the offensive line couldn't block worth a ****), any progress would be a significant improvement.
Grade: B. Goal-line work was lacking, but the Packers seemed to go away from the run the closer they got to the endzone. And that didn't really work as hoped, the Packers had to settle for field goals twice and were thwarted on the final drive.
Receiving: A good day, or not? This is difficult to grade; Jones had the 66 yard TD reception, BUT Brandon Meriweather knocked out his own CB to spring Jones for the easy touchdown. Jones also...gave up? on the pick six by Arrington, letting his route go too early. What made hte play worse was Flynn throwing to him anyway. Not a good result at all. Driver jumped too early on an overthrow in the endzone, resulting in an incompletion, and had a bad drop over the middle. So not a solid day from him, either. Greg Jennings eclipsed 1000 yards receiving, but was held to 7.5 yards per catch on 4 catches. So the best receiver was...Jones, who is the streakiest receiver in the NFL. He got off to a good start and finished with 5 catches for 91 yards, with a TD.
Note: Donald Driver needed 158 yards receiving to break James Lofton's all-time receiving record (9,656 yards) yesterday. He managed 31 receiving yards. You do the math :-)
Grade: B-. This was the hardest to grade. The receivers made plays (especially Jones, whose 66 yard TD reception once again proved to us that the Packers weren't going to give up), but they had some short-comings.
Run Blocking: Would you believe the Packers can block? I know, it's a stunning development, but the Packers actually ran the ball pretty well behind the front 5. The same front 5 that got pushed all the way to Ann Arbor last week in Detroit (sigh).
Grade: A-. Finally, a decent day from the OL. Perhaps the familiarity of NE's 3 man front had an effect; the Packers play against that system in practice after all, but it was still nice to see the ground game get to work.
Pass Blocking: Oh Lord, the pass blocking. 5 sacks. That's all you need to know.
Grade: D-. They managed to keep Flynn upright, but then NE started getting successful rushes from the edge and smacking him down. Flynn survived more because of his mobility than the blocking that was allegedly protecting him...
Grading the Offense as a Whole: B. To have success on the road against a team like the Patriots, especially with your backup QB, is pretty good. The Packers had a very realistic chance at the win, but the offense didn't get it done in crunch time.
Pass Rush: Brady was sacked 3 times for a grand total of 27 yards lost. But 3-man fronts against Tom Brady on any down, unless you have Hall of Famers at both DE spots and NT, is an EPIC FAIL. You will not win that battle.
Grade: A-. Brady was harried for most of the game, and had to move about the pocket. He got sacked TWICE by B.J. Raji (who aced the class, IMO) and once more by Desmond Bishop (who turned in a solid game). But the point of a pass rush is to make the QB uncomfortable, and that's just what the Packers did.
Run stopping: If Aaron Hernandez's 16 yard first down carry is excluded, the Packers held the Patriots to 97 yards rushing. When you take out BenJarvus Green-Ellis's 33 yard TD run, he got 5 yards on 5 carries. So big plays were definitely the story of the day; aside from those, the run stoppers put the clamps on the Patriot running game.
Grade: C. Can't allow big plays on defense if you're going to win on the road, especially against a team like the Patriots.
Pass coverage: Good, but it could have done much, much better. Sam Shields may be a rookie, but that TD pass from Brady to Gronkowski right before the half was just...ugly. Especially the posterization on the failed tackle. If the Packers ever get a 3rd CB worth a **** (in other words, NOT Jarret Bush), Shields gets dime package duties. Forever. The Packers did a good job controlling the damage done by Wes Welker (3 catches for 42 yards) and Deion Branch (2 catches for 33 yards), but couldn't stop the tight ends. Aaron Hernandez had a pair of touchdowns on 4 receptions (50% of his catches were scores, and yes that's an ugly defensive stat), and Gronkowski had a 25 yard reception. Aside from Hernandez, the Packers managed to hold the Patriots' main weapons in check.
Grade: B+. Holding Welker, Tate, and Branch to 6 combined receptions is no average feat, but those touchdowns to Hernandez were poorly defended. Woodson also dropped an interception that would have turned the game instantly.
Grading the Defense as a Whole: C. The Patriots did score 24 points on offense, and 31 overall points are still the most the Packers have given up all season, but it's still not a complete failure by the defense. Brady was kept on the sidelines throughout the game, which is a must-do for any team that wishes to beat the Patriots.
End of the Day: This game didn't get away from the Packers. It wasn't like Green Bay failed to keep up with New England, in fact, despite being massive underdogs, they managed to give the Patriots the fight of their lives. But it just wasn't enough.
Shout-outs: Josh Sitton, who put together probably his best game of the season, B.J. Raji, who sacked Brady twice and had a solid game, and Matt Flynn, because that crazy bastard managed a good game in a hostile road environment and gave Packer fans hope on a dark Sunday night.
Next Week: 12/26/10 vs. New York Giants