The Green Bay Packers entered Monday Night Football this week with a record of 2-2-1, both needingand expecting a win against the hapless San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco came to Lambeau Field with a 1-4 record, and starting a backup quarterback that will take the helm for the rest of the season. What unfolded over the first 57 minutes of that game was a nightmare for the Packers and their fans. The 49ers could not have played a better game. C.J. Beathard, finished the night 16 of 23 for 245 yards and two touchdowns. Granted,they turned the ball over twice in that game but that led to only six points for the Packers. With 2:59 to go in the fourth quarter, the 49ers held a 30-23 lead at Lambeau Field. The Packers got the ball back, going up against a 49ers team that had played their best game of the season, and then Aaron Rodgers ruined their evening.
Rodgers began that drive by going deep to Davante Adams. By the end of the catch and run Adams had picked up 38 yards, putting the team on the 20 yard line. Just after a four-yard completion to Jimmy Graham, the Packers were facing third and six, following the two-minute warning.
Aaron Rodgers threw yet another perfectly placed pass to Devante Adams in the end zone, tying the score after the extra point. Greg Mabin’s coverage of Davante Adams on that touchdown play is exactly how you teach kids in pee wee football how to cover a pass catcher. It was textbook coverage, and Mabin couldn’t have done anything more, or anything else to stop that ball from sailing into Adam’s hands.
Now, it was time for that defense, which had been getting torched all night, to come up with a stop. It didn’t start out well. Following the late hit on the kickoff return, the 49ers were set up near midfield. Two plays later they were in a third down and three when Beathard dropped back to pass, going deep for the game-winner. On this play Kevin King had perfect coverage, turned around just in time, and picked the ball off with 1:07 to go. Needing just three for the win, Rodgers now had a chance to ruin the 49ers dream night, and be the hero once again for the Packers.
The drive didn’t start out well. On third and 17, Rodgers dropped back to pass and was sacked yet again, forcing a fourth down. An illegal contact penalty on Richard Sherman gave Aaron Rodgers one more chance. That is about the worst thing that can happen to a Packers opponent these days. On the next playRodgers dropped back to pass, saw the wide open space in front of him and peeled off 21 yards on a busted play. After a spike of the ball, the Packers were on their 46 with 19 seconds left. The next three plays by the Packers were absolute perfection. 8 yards down the left sideline to Davante Adams and out of bounds to stop the clock. 19 yards down the right sideline to of all people, a rookie, Eq. St. Brown, for a first down, an once again, out of bounds to stop the clock. After a quick snap and throw over Adams head to make sure there would be no time left after the field goal, Mason Crosby came on and put the game-winner through the uprights. You could not have written at a better script than that.
Yes, they barely beat a team they should have blown out. But at the same time, based on how this game unfolded, they should have lost. This is a bottom line league, and a win is a win, regardless of how it looks. They do have issues to fix during the bye. Let’s line them up below.
1) First and foremost, Mike Pettine has to find a pass rush without an all-out blitz. Somebody somewhere on their depth chart at either defensive endor outside linebacker has got to start getting to the quarterback without a blitz.
2) Mike Pettine also needs to get this secondary organized. The talent is there, but they are disorganized at the back end.
3) The friction between Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy has got to stop. Between now and the end of this season they need to make peace and lead this team to victory.
4) They need to get a running game going. They have three good running backs, and they need to give them the ball more, specifically Aaron Jones.
After their bye, the Packers begin the “gauntlet” part of their schedule, four road games in five weeks against the Rams, Patriots, Seahawks, and Vikings. We are about to find out who these Packers really are.