Friday, December 23, 2016

Two More to Run the Table!

Montgomery Running Free, Photo by Evan Siegle,

On last week's Bears game, which the Packers won, 30-27, let's not forget one thing.  If Davante Adams caught either of the two touchdown passes that he dropped, we wouldn't all have been having heart attacks late in the 4th quarter.  I am a big fan of Davante Adams, but not only did he not help the team on Sunday, he hurt it by having catchable touchdown passes thrown his way, and then dropping them.  Let's hope he turns things around in the next two games.  He has now shredded the gloves he used last week, so I suppose that is a start.

The all-time record between the Packers and Bears is now tied, at 94-94-6.  This is the first time that the Packers have not trailed the Bears, all-time, since 1933.  We can thank 25 years of Favre and Rodgers at quarterback, and Holmgren and McCarthy (and the others) at coach for evening the score in games.  And in points, the all-time record now stands at Green Bay, 3,335, Chicago, 3,331.  When you stop to think of how close the games and points have been, how this is the oldest rivalry, and how the rivalry has the City Slicker vs. Country Bumpkin aspect to add to it, it is not hard to understand how this is really the greatest rivalry in the history of the game.  At times over the last 25 years, the rivalry may have seemed more intense with the Vikings, or with the Cowboys or 49ers or Seahawks, and maybe this year and last with the Lions, but nothing really matches up with Packers-Bears.

I don't think the game announcers ever mentioned the direction that the wind was blowing during the game.  But I think it had to have been blowing from left to right, as you watch the TV broadcast.  With two exceptions, all the rest of the points in the game were scored by the team moving from left to right, i.e., with the wind if my supposition is correct.  The only exceptions were Crosby's late second quarter field goal, set up by (one of several) huge runs by Ty Montgomery, and the game-winning field goal by Crosby as time expired, set up by the improbable 60 yard bomb to Jordy Nelson.  This can't be a coincidence.  The wind must have played a significant role in this game, even though the backup announcing crew never mentioned it.

In thinking about the impact of the wind, consider that this is another of those games where McCarthy and Capers can be accused of going (at least in large part) to the prevent defense and the kill-the-clock or prevent offense.  After all, they were leading 27-10 after three quarters.  All they had to do was run some clock, and keep the ball in front of them on defense.  What are the chances that the Bears, with their whatever-string quarterback, will score 17 points in the 4th quarter, after scoring a total of 10 points in the first 3 quarters?  Well, as it turned out, the chances were 100%, and the Packers should consider themselves lucky that they won the game.  Even when the Packers did try to blitz, rather than play a soft zone, in the 4th quarter, it was too late to put the genie back in the bottle, as the Bears now had momentum on their side.

This just drives me nuts.  There is obviously a point in a game, considering the time left and the score at the time, where dialing it back helps to improve the chances of winning, by lessening the chances of an explosive negative play.  And I suppose you could say that things turned out OK; after all the Packers won the game.  But as I said, they are lucky to have won the game.  What happens if Micah Hyde doesn't bat away the touchdown pass on the Bears' final drive, or if the Bears decide to go for it and get a TD on 4th down?  I just don't think there is any question that the Packers dialed it back way too soon, with an entire quarter left, and with the wind (under my theory) at the backs of the Bears.  I just wish that McCarthy and Capers would learn this lesson.  Sometimes you think they have learned it, for example last week against Seattle.  But on Sunday they almost "prevented" the Packers from winning the game with their conservative approach in the 4th quarter.

Anyway, now we have a Christmas eve, Minnesota at Green Bay game tomorrow.  When the Vikings started off at 5-0, including a defensive battle against the Packers, this game had the looks of a division-decider.  After all, the Vikings were 5-0, the Packers were 3-2, and the Lions were 2-3 after 5 games.  But now, the Vikings have gone 2-7 in the next 9 games, including losing 4 of 5 road games (beating only the Jaguars on the road).  They are fighting for a slim shot at a wild card, and more realistically are just fighting to be the spoilers for the Packers.

The Vikings' offense has regressed during the year, and their offensive line is a mess.  The return of Adrian Peterson seemed to do nothing for them last week, and he is still listed as questionable on the injury report.  The Vikings' defense, on the other hand, has played very well for most of the season, keeping them close in the games they lost, even against a team like the Cowboys (to whom they lost, 17-15).  Until last week, that is, when they got blown out, at home, by the Colts, 34-6.  I would be pretty shocked if the Vikings beat the Packers tomorrow.  I think this game has the potential to be a very solid win for the Packers, maybe even permitting some (voluntary!) Brett Hundley time in the 4th quarter.

May the Packers bring Packers' fans all over the world a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah!

No comments:

Post a Comment