The Green Bay Packers team that had won four of their last five, including outclassing the Lions and Chiefs, dissipated before our eyes at MetLife Stadium Monday night.
It might not quite have been the Packers’ ugliest game of the season, but it sure was the most ridiculous. It also feels like possibly the most crushing, as playoff hopes were soaring while the Packers were quickly becoming one of the hottest teams in the league.
Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Atlanta, Seattle, and the Los Angeles Rams all sat at 6-7 coming into Monday night’s game. These teams, along with Minnesota (7-6), make up the mid tier of the NFC vying for the 6th and 7th playoff seeds. The Packers had a chance to take a game lead on all those teams but Minnesota. Instead, they become the 6th team at 6-7 in the conference.
You could argue (at least, before this debacle) that every game left on the Packers’ schedule is relatively easy, and this matchup against the Giants seemed to be one of the surefire wins the Packers could chalk up. Now, with such a tight race for the remaining playoff seeds, every game left matters that much more, The margin for error continues to thin.
How do the Packers go from defeating the reigning Super Bowl champs to falling miserably to the Tommy DeVito led, 4-8 Giants?
It starts with the QB. Jordan Love (25-39, 218 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) reverted to the version of himself that we saw in October, during the losing streak in which the Packers looked like one of the worst teams in football. Love started off on the wrong foot, delivering all-too-familiar wildly-inaccurate passes to all levels of the field. His receivers had their work cut out for them trying to wrangle in some of Love’s errant throws.
Love’s lone interception, too, induced a feeling of deja vu – a headscratcher that sailed down the left sideline into the arms of a waiting safety. A bomb into double coverage. It’s always hard to tell what he’s thinking on these kinds of turnovers.
Love got better down the stretch and in the 4th quarter, throwing a go-ahead TD to Malik Heath with under two minutes to play. DeVito then promptly threw a wide-open 32-yard pass to Wan’Dale Robinson, comfortably setting the Giants up for the walk-off field goal.
Packer fans everywhere were likely getting traumatic flashbacks to Colin Kaepernick running all over the Packers 10 years ago. DeVito finished an efficient yet mundane 17-21 for 158 yards and 1 TD. DeVito had just 52 yards passing midway through the 3rd quarter. What really killed Green Bay were his legs. DeVito ran 10 times for 71 yards, most of which were not designed runs.
Although the Packers didn’t register a single sack this game, their pass rush was getting consistent pressure, especially in the first half. They just couldn’t finish plays. Over and over, DeVito scrambled up the middle for first down after first down.
More bad habits from the Packers crept up again. A lackluster running game. Questionable playcalling. Deep shots downfield on broken plays when only 4-6 yards are needed for a first down. And don’t get Matt LaFleur started on the penalties. LaFleur looked like his head was going to explode in the 1st quarter after the Packers strung together a series of flags.
Overall, it was a sloppy, ugly game from the Packers. The mistakes that cost them this game are the same ones that put them on a four-game skid earlier in the season.
Still, the Packers control their own destiny. Green Bay is still in possession of the 7th seed in the NFC after this loss. Even just a few more wins could net them a playoff spot – and if the Packers that looked like they could hang with anyone return, who knows what could happen.——————