Packers Late Rally Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive

“R-E-L-A-X, Relax”

The Green Bay Packers were minutes away from one of their most humiliating losses of the decade, as they trailed the winless Cleveland Browns 21-7 early in the fourth quarter. Many writers, including myself, were preparing to write a bleak post-mortem on the Packers season, that in the heat of battle would have probably called for the immediate firings of Dom Capers, Mike McCarthy, and Ted Thompson. The problem with those opinions and reflections of the Packers season, would have been that we all spoke too soon and buried this team far too early.

After over three quarters of lackluster play, crucial mistakes, and being dominated at the point of attack, the Packers awoke from their slumber and scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and overtime to pull off a tremendous 27-21 come from behind victory and allow “the quest to run the table again” to continue for at least one more weekend in Carolina.

Sunday Afternoon’s turning point:

The Packers began dominating the point of attack:

When the Packers win the battle in the trenches their outcome changes. During The first three-quarters of this football game, the Cleveland Browns dominated the point of attack on both sides of the football and were able to move the ball at will on offense and hamper the Packers offensive attack on defense. The Browns were able to run the ball effectively and at will with Isaiah Crowell and hit big plays down the field to open receivers. On defense, the Browns halted the Packers rushing attack that saw them gain 200 yards just one week prior, against Tampa Bay. The Browns were able to collapse Brett Hundley’s passing pocket causing him to hurry his throws which caused him to miss connecting on opportunities down the field.

The Packers were stunned and in a state of disarray with the realization that their season was on the line and their hopes of a playoff berth were in serious jeopardy. Once the Packers were able to regain their edge upfront, their results on offense and defense changed. Their defense was able to apply pressure to DeShone Kizer and stop the run which forced two punts and an interception on their final three possessions. Their offensive line was able to provide more time for Brett Hundley to operate and provide more running lanes for Jamaal Williams. In their final four possessions, the offense was able to score three touchdowns, including the game-winning 25-yard screen pass scamper from Davante Adams in overtime.

Continuing the Quest to Run the Table:

The week leading up to next Sunday’s matchup in Carolina will be sure to be one of the most dramatic weeks of the Packers season. Green Bay and the NFL world will collectively be waiting with bated breath to see the results of Aaron Rodgers’s bone density scan which will determine whether or not he will be cleared to play against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

No matter what the outcome of the bone density scan is, the Packers have a lot of work to do in the film room as well as the practice field this week, in order to be ready to face one of their toughest opponents to date. The Packers offensive and defensive lines need to play with a continued sense of urgency starting from the first play of the game.

For the first three-quarters of the game, it did not look as if the Packers were fighting for a chance to make the playoffs. They took the Browns for granted and believed that simply showing up to play the game gave them a sense of entitlement, and that victory was going to be a foregone conclusion.

Mike McCarthy cannot allow his team to come out of the starting gate like they did this Sunday in Cleveland. If the Packers play as poor as they did for the first three-quarters of the game against the Browns, the Panthers will end the Packers playoff hopes by halftime and Packer fans will be lamenting about what could have been. (Again!)

Playoff Picture:

In spite of a poor performance, The Packers wake up on this Monday morning feeling rejuvenated and still very much alive in the playoff hunt. The Seahawks lost last night in an ugly game in Jacksonville, and the Packers can become one step closer to controlling their own playoff destiny if they can find a way to defeat the Carolina Panthers. With a win in Carolina, the Packers would own tiebreakers over the Seahawks, Cowboys, and Panthers which would give them a very good chance to grab the 2nd wild-card spot in the event that they ran the table for the second consecutive season.

Three Stars: ⭐️

1. Davante Adams

2. Clay Matthews

3. Brett Hundley

Honorable Mention:

1. Josh Jones

2. Jamaal Williams

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David Michalski is a recent college graduate from Princeton New Jersey who has been a life long Green Bay Packers fan. Like the great Vince Lombardi, he values God, family, and the Green Bay Packers in that order. You can follow him on twitter at @kilbas27dave

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