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Packers 21, Houston 24

Thank god. Now we don't have to worry about a stunning collapse at the end of the NFC Championship game this year. With the umpteemth 4th quarter collapse in 2008, the Packers don't have to be thinking about the playoffs anymore. Let's hope they can win another game this season.

My favorite comment from the open thread for the game:

"the D can’t stop jack in the 4th quarter. 5 losses by 4 points or less.

I’ll give you the play by play for all of those losses. GB gives other team the ball with 2-3 minutes left. Other team gets at least 2 20-yard plays and drives like crazy. Other team gets FG/TD with no time left."

Yep. Tip of my hat to rhys for that one.

Earlier in the season it was the run defense that collapsed late in the game (Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Tennessee). Then the special teams missed a FG (Minnesota). Now the offense comes up short on their last drive across the 50 yard line, either they are forced to punt or settle for a FG, while their opponent drives for the game winning score on their last possession because the pass defense collapses (Carolina, Houston).

Click on the link below the poll if you want look at some of the key plays of the game.

From the play-by-play:

1st Quarter:

(13:30) 8-M.Schaub pass deep left to 83-K.Walter for 58 yards, TOUCHDOWN [74-A.Kampman]. GB-36-N.Collins was injured during the play. His return is Probable.

Rule #1: Offensive pass interference is something that only Packer receivers do. How did WR Kevin Walter get open on CB Tramon Williams? He gave him a nice shove in the back.

(9:36) 37-C.Sapp right end to HOU 31 for -3 yards (55-D.Bishop).

This was a great play by LB Desmond Bishop. He ran through an opening at the line of scrimmage and made a great play on 3rd to force a rare Houston punt.

(8:58) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep right to 80-D.Driver to HOU 24 for 45 yards (35-J.Reeves). PENALTY on GB-80-D.Driver, Offensive Pass Interference, 10 yards, enforced at GB 31 - No Play.

See Rule #1 above.

2nd Quarter:

(13:21) 8-M.Schaub pass short right to 81-O.Daniels to GB 1 for 8 yards (55-D.Bishop). FUMBLES (55-D.Bishop), touched at GB 0, RECOVERED by GB-38-T.Williams at GB 3. 38-T.Williams to GB 3 for no gain (73-E.Winston).

Another great play by Bishop! Why has this guy been sitting on the bench? See 4th quarter below.

(12:35) 12-A.Rodgers pass short left to 80-D.Driver pushed ob at GB 15 for 11 yards (23-D.Robinson). GB-65-M.Tauscher was injured during the play.

Houston immediately moved DE Mario Williams over to the Packers' right side to take advantage of backup RT Tony Moll. It wasn't a perfect game, but Moll was solid. Williams wasn't shut out, but QB Aaron Rodgers was able to avoid him most of the game. And usually the coaches left Moll one-on-one against him too.

(5:59) 8-M.Schaub pass short right intended for 11-A.Davis INTERCEPTED by 38-T.Williams at HOU 28. 38-T.Williams to HOU 23 for 5 yards (11-A.Davis).

(5:12) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep left to 86-D.Lee for 20 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

As bad as the defense played, allowing over 500 yards of total offense, they forced three turnovers. The fourth turnover was a lucky bounce on special teams. The turnovers led to points on offense and kept them in this game.

3-K.Brown kicks 69 yards from HOU 30 to GB 1. 27-W.Blackmon for 99 yards, TOUCHDOWN NULLIFIED by Penalty. PENALTY on GB-57-J.Hunter, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at GB 27.

DE Jason Hunter. A pass rushing specialist who provides no pass rush. A special teams "ace" who commits a stupid penalty at the worst time. GM Ted Thompson is free to release him whenever he feels like it.

(:38) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass short left intended for 85-G.Jennings INTERCEPTED by 23-D.Robinson at HOU 40. 23-D.Robinson pushed ob at HOU 40 for no gain (85-G.Jennings).

It was a bad decision. WR Donald Driver was downfield 10 yards from Jennings and in single coverage against a linebacker. Rodgers is great, but not perfect.

3rd Quarter:

(14:31) 8-M.Schaub pass deep right to 44-V.Leach to GB 47 for 21 yards (55-D.Bishop, 51-B.Poppinga). PENALTY on GB-55-D.Bishop, Face Mask (15 Yards), 15 yards, enforced at GB 47.

Yep, former Packer FB Vonta Leach killed them in this game. This set up a FG which was margin of defeat. It's a nice foreshadowing involving the Packers' two worst defenders in pass coverage.

(4:43) (Punt formation) 1-M.Turk right end ran ob at GB 47 for 18 yards (27-W.Blackmon).

If it weren't for KR Will Blackmon's TD returns and K Mason Crosby's strong season, the Packers' special teams would be one of the worst in the league.

(4:11) 8-M.Schaub pass deep left to 80-A.Johnson ran ob at GB 27 for 20 yards (31-A.Harris).

See Rule #1 above. Nice shove in the back by WR Andre Johnson.

(1:56) 20-S.Slaton left tackle to GB 15 for 1 yard (96-M.Montgomery). FUMBLES (96-M.Montgomery), RECOVERED by GB-97-J.Jolly at GB 18. 97-J.Jolly to GB 21 for 3 yards (83-K.Walter)

Again, the defense stunk. But they also kept them in the game.

(:32) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep middle to 85-G.Jennings to HOU 6 for 63 yards (35-J.Reeves, 31-B.Harrison).

This was the second, and last, reception in the game by WR Greg Jennings. The stats look good on offense; 387 total yards, Rodgers' QB rating of 104.2, 5.4 yards/carry by RB Ryan Grant. But Houston's defense is really bad. Those numbers aren't as impressive against them. And 1 for 10 on 3rd downs led to 8 punts. The big difference was Jennings. He just didn't get involved in the game. Was that good coverage by Houston? Poor design by Green Bay? The offense just isn't the same when Jennings isn't involved.

4th Quarter:

(11:30) 8-M.Schaub pass short right to 83-K.Walter to GB 13 for 4 yards (97-J.Jolly).

Walter was killing them in this game. And down at the Green Bay 17 yard line, on 3rd and short, they put DT Johnny Jolly in coverage on Walter. Sometimes the players let the team down. Sometimes the coaches get out coached.

(10:11) 8-M.Schaub pass short left to 80-A.Johnson for 11 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
TWO-POINT CONVERSION ATTEMPT. 8-M.Schaub pass to 80-A.Johnson is complete. ATTEMPT SUCCEEDS. Green Bay challenged the runner was in bounds ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #1 at 10:05.)

The defense had been giving up big chunks of yards. But they had been forcing turnovers and making them settle for FGs. These weren't necessarily a bad plays, Johnson's a great receiver, but no one on defense stepped up on two crutial plays.

(6:00) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass short right to 87-J.Nelson for 9 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

I'm not sold on WR Jordy Nelson yet. He seems to lack the speed and size to gain an advantage over the defender. But he's playing great for a rookie.

2-7-HOU 22 (3:02) 25-R.Grant right tackle to HOU 13 for 9 yards (26-E.Wilson). PENALTY on GB-75-T.Moll, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at HOU 22 - No Play.
2-17-HOU 32 (2:56) 12-A.Rodgers sacked at HOU 41 for -9 yards (59-D.Ryans).

A great pass to Driver leads to back-to-back plays that kill the drive and force a punt. They should have taken the lead there. It wasn't just the defense that collapsed in this game.

(2:00) 7-J.Kapinos punts 35 yards to HOU 3, Center-61-B.Goode, downed by GB-53-S.Havner.

Hey, great punt! And great punt coverage! P Jeremy Kapinos isn't going to the Pro Bowl anytime soon, but he looks like a step up from P Derrick Frost.

1-10-HOU 3 (1:49) 20-S.Slaton left tackle to HOU 6 for 3 yards (97-J.Jolly, 79-R.Pickett).
Timeout #2 by GB at 01:43.

Has Mike McCarthy watched his team this season? Has he seen the defense stop someone, anyone, in the final 2 minutes so his offense can get the ball back? Maybe they were willing to run out the clock. Instead McCarthy helpfully gave Houston a time out.

(1:43) 8-M.Schaub pass short right to 44-V.Leach pushed ob at HOU 28 for 22 yards (36-N.Collins). GB-36-N.Collins was injured during the play.

The Packers come out of the timeout, and give up a big play to give Houston some breathing room and a real shot at a last minute game winning drive. LB Brady Poppinga made it all possible. Leach ran upfield and made contact with Poppinga. Leach rolled off the contact towards the sidelines. Poppinga rolled towards the middle of the field and stared at the QB for a couple seconds. That left Leach wide, wide, open. It was also the 2nd time S Nick Collins had to be helped off the field.

(:50) 8-M.Schaub pass short middle to 81-O.Daniels to GB 25 for 27 yards (37-A.Rouse).

Yea, LB Desmond Bishop had him in coverage and he allowed the big play that set up the game losing FG. But he shouldn't be responsible for covering one of Houston's best receivers in single coverage late in the game. There is a reason Bishop is a backup. He's a good middle linebacker type that plays well off the action in front of him. He's good at running downhill and attacking the line of scrimmage. This wasn't the coaches fault either. With Barnett and Chillar out, and Collins knocked out a couple plays earlier, there weren't a lot of options. And they did need him in to help stop the run. It was a bad situation to be in.

(:04) 3-K.Brown 40 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-82-C.Harris, Holder-1-M.Turk.

Cue the fat lady. She's singing for the end of the game and the end of any playoff hopes.