Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Packers Beat Bills and Meet 2-0 Bears

If you missed the game and just saw the score the next day, you would see that the Packers beat the Bills, 34-7, and you would assume that they probably dominated from start to finish. And yet, that is not at all how it felt watching the game live. Yes, the game started off pretty well, with the Packers putting the first 13 points on the board. But nothing much good happened for the Packers in the second quarter, and at halftime the score was 13-7. Along the way, there were missed passes, a sluggish running game, and some generally mediocre play. I am sure I was not the only one wondering if this might turn out to be a "trap" game after all.

Of course, the Packers put the game away in the second half, apparently after getting some choice encouragement from Coach McCarthy at halftime (the words "flat" and "sloppy figured prominently), so there turned out to be no problem. Still, the impression I carried away from the game was that the Packers didn't play very well, that they need lots of improvement to keep up with the better teams, and that they are lucky to be sitting at 2-0, tied with the Bears (what? how did that happen?).

All of these criticisms are valid, but I felt better about where the team is on a second viewing of the game. They started off strong, scoring on the first three possessions, while blanking the Bills. On defense, the Packers were aggressive from the start, sacking Trent Edwards on the Bills' third play, using their great "Psycho Defense." (In this defense, the players come to the line with one defensive lineman, five linebackers, and five defensive backs.) The look on Trent Edwards' face was priceless in showing how effective this alignment can be, because the quarterback is sure that a big rush is coming, but nobody is sure where the rush is going to come from.

My revised opinion is that the Packers played pretty well, even dominantly in parts of the game, but had an extremely flat second quarter that left us wondering what went wrong. The defense looked great, the special teams continue to play beyond my (meager) expectations, and the passing game was good enough to contribute to a win in most games (Rodgers completed 2/3 of his passes, for 255 yards, threw two touchdowns and no interceptions). Only the running game was really troubling, but I am prepared to wait a week or two to see if they can bring that around.

So the Packers, at 2-0, get to meet the 2-0 Bears at Soldier Field, for the Packers' only appearance on Monday Night Football this year. This game is no "gimme." While the Packers did manage to sweep the Bears last year, that was the first time since Lovie Smith has coached the Bears that the Packers swept the season series. The Bears presumably are delighted with their 2-0 record, and their fans (or the fair-weather fans among them) are snapping up tickets for the Monday Night game and raising ticket prices in the process. How sweet it would be to start the process of deflating their bubble on Monday night.

I did not realize it until I saw it in the Packers Dope Sheet on the game, but the last time the Packers and Bears met when both teams were 2-0 was September 30, 1962. The Packers won that game by the score of 49-0. That was a memorable game for me because it was the first Packer game I ever attended. Somewhere, I might even have some Instamatic snapshots from that game. For some much better pictures, see the collection published by the Press-Gazette.


  1. Tom writes: "I am sure I was not the only one wondering if this might turn out to be a "trap" game after all."

    A belated report on that comment from Lambeau. I was at the game, section 324, row 9 seat 6, and from my perch high atop the 50 yard line, I can attest to that statement. Many of the people in our section were getting restless, ordering more beer, and in general were just starting to look like I could give them my card (Psychiatric NP) to refer them for treatment. One fan magically observed, on the return of another fan from a beer run in the second quarter when things were looking scary, that if said fan left again, the Pack was going to blow it just like they did in '06 (Pack outgained Bills 426-184 but lost 24-10 because of turnovers)

  2. Just wondering if the guy in the stands was spouting those stats off the top of his head or if you had to look it up to complete the thought. If the former, pretty impressive.

  3. Or did I know the stats myself? :-)

    I did have to look them up. he just said, "like they did in '06."