24

December

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Steelers 38, Packers 31

Eddie Lacy had his way with the Steelers' defense and could be in for a bigger day against the Bears if he's able to suit up.

Eddie Lacy had his way with the Steelers’ defense and could be in for a bigger day against the Bears if he’s able to suit up.

After the Green Bay Packers lost a home heartbreaker to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Packers’ playoff destiny fell out of their control.

But Jay Cutler and the division-leading Chicago Bears were blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles later Sunday night, and now it’ll be Packers-Bears in the final week of the regular season for the NFC North crown and a spot in the playoffs.

And for the umpteenth week in a row, a good portion of ALLGBP’s Game Balls and Lame Calls post will be centered around the increasingly unknown status of Aaron Rodgers, which got even cloudier when ESPN’s Chris Mortensen cited potential tension between Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy on NFL Countdown prior to Sunday’s game. Mortensen tweeted Rodgers remains at “extraordinary risk” with his fractured collarbone.

But the whole will-Rodgers-play-or-won’t-he-play debate or the why-isn’t-Rodgers-playing question seems kind of pointless, doesn’t it? Clearly, Rodgers isn’t ready to play right now. He hasn’t played since November 4, and he wants to play. Whether the final call falls with Rodgers, McCarthy, Ted Thompson or Dr. Pat McKenzie, the fact still remains: Rodgers isn’t ready to play right now.

During the pregame segment, Mortensen said Rodgers pushed the “organizational decision” narrative that he and McCarthy used so often last week as an attempt to defend his toughness in hopes of fending off comparisons to Brett Favre, who undoubtedly would have played through a broken leg and a freshly amputated throwing hand.

But while I think the Rodgers debate really comes down to semantics, the Countdown segment raised some questions to me. Rodgers is who he is. He’s probably the best quarterback in the NFL, and he’s probably better in 2013 than Favre was at any point of his career, in my opinion. Naturally, comparisons will exist between Favre and Rodgers just as they did with other eternally-linked quarterbacks such as the 49ers’ Joe Montana and Steve Young and last year’s draft class that produced Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. People like to compare people to other people.

If it’s, in fact, true that Rodgers is wary of the comparisons to Favre, I guess I’m not sure why. No man ever wants his toughness, heart or work ethic to be questioned, but Rodgers shouldn’t feel the need to defend his toughness. Though I realize the game hasn’t necessarily changed drastically since Favre’s prime, No. 4 would almost surely have missed a start during his Packers tenure if he played in this new-age NFL.

Player safety is football’s No. 1 emphasis today. If Rodgers isn’t able to play right now, then he’s not able to play. Rodgers, Thompson, McCarthy and McKenzie know the team’s situation–they’re a win over the Bears from a playoffs berth and their starting quarterback is fighting to come back despite having not played since Nov. 4 when the teams met at Lambeau Field.

Look for Rodgers to be ruled out earlier than last week. Perhaps he’d return in the playoffs, because at that point, you never know what can happen in a one-game scenario. Rodgers told ESPN’s Jason Wilde on his radio show last Tuesday that no player is 100 percent at this point of the season, but if Rodgers were to start this week despite the risk, and he were to re-injure it or lose, or re-injure it and lose, then the team’s handling of the situation would surely be a hot debate throughout the offseason.

Oh by the way, Rodgers will be talking to Wilde again this afternoon on 540 AM on ESPN Milwaukee. It’s highly recommended programming.

And, oh by the way, the Packers played a football game Sunday, and there’s a lot to talk about.

Game Balls

Eddie Lacy and James Starks

On Sunday, we watched Green Bay Packers run the ball on the Pittsburgh Steelers when the Pittsburgh Steelers knew the Green Bay Packers were going to run the football. It’s been a really long time since that could be said. Lacy re-aggravated his sprained ankle and likely won’t practice much this week, and the team hopes he’ll be ready to go Sunday against the Bears. If not, Starks will step in and look to have a productive day against a porous Chicago run defense. The combination of Lacy and Starks racked up 160 yards and two scores on 28 touches against the Steelers.

A.J. Hawk

If Hawk has been steady for the Packers throughout his career, than he’s been whatever’s a step above steady in 2013. His second-half interception of Ben Roethlisberger was one of those splash plays he seemed to make so often at Ohio State but hasn’t regularly produced with the Packers. The Packers’ defense is far from elite, but Hawk helps keep its collective head above water.

Micah Hyde

Aside from what was almost a game-saving touchdown kick return, Hyde was a big part of the Packers defense against the Steelers. It seems the team is reluctant to put Davon House on the field for significant time, as they’ve opted to go with a combination of Hyde and Jarrett Bush over the last few weeks, and Hyde answered the bell Sunday. He’s a solid tackler, smart player a true impact rookie.

Offensive Line

They gave up a few sacks, but overall they controlled the line of scrimmage against a pretty strong Steelers front seven. Looking at Pro Football Focus’ grades for the Packers offense, the top four players were offensive linemen. That’s a good sign with the team potentially headed into the playoffs.

Lame Calls

Late-game clock management

In Flynn’s first start against the New England Patriots in 2010, some late-game struggles with the clock clouded an otherwise gritty performance from Flynn. Sunday’s game against the Steelers brought back some of the same memories, although the officials seemed to have botched the signal to start the clock with 10 seconds remaining, and McCarthy was not happy with how the situation was handled. “I wish the officiating mechanics were intact,” McCarthy said, per JSOnline. “I think it’s clear to everybody, it doesn’t take 10 seconds to throw a three-step drop. You guys go to practice everyday, we have a clock that we train our football team, and it’s a 2.3 (-second) average three-step drop that (when it) comes out on time is 1.7. The center was given an indication to snap the ball and the clock had been running, he was given an indication to snap the ball at 3. If you watch the game, obviously we were all up in arms about it after the game, but you go back and watch the video, I think it’s clear exactly what happened.” This much is clear: the Packers surely should have had a chance to get another play off.

Matt Flynn to Jordy Nelson

Clearly, much of the Packers’ offensive game plan centered around Flynn looking away from No. 87. One of the criticisms of Flynn as the Packers’ starter this year has been his reluctance to go anywhere but his No. 1 read, which is often Nelson. But the Packers’ No. 1 receiver was thrown just five passes Sunday, while James Jones and Jarrett Boykin had 12 and 13 targets, respectively. The final play was tough to watch. For a second, it looked like a gimme touchdown to Nelson, who broke free on his slant, but Flynn ignored him, the pass fell incomplete and the game ended.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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41 Responses to “Game Balls and Lame Calls: Steelers 38, Packers 31”

  1. Nick Perry says:

    Thanks for bringing up the late game clock management. I brought that up on a different site and was blasted. Personally I feel part of that was on coaching and thought of the New England game as well. When the Packers started the drive at the Pittsburgh 31, they had 1:25 left. After a short pass to Jordy who got out of bounds and the pass to Q, the Packers had 43 seconds left when the ball was snapped and Starks ran to the one. 21 seconds rolled off the clock BEFORE the false start. 21 SECONDS! Why wouldn’t the Packers spike the ball to regroup at the one? MM was 7-26 in games trailing in the 4th quarter heading into the 2013 season. It was on full display Sunday afternoon why the horrible 4th quarter record. 4 plays in 1:25? 4 plays from the Pittsburgh 31, COMMON MAN!

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    • Dave D says:

      Right on, MM blew this game. Why not spike the ball, it was second down. Then you can huddle and call a better play. Then if not successful, you still would have 4th down. Also, I knew a punt fake was coming when Pittsburgh lined up. Wake up MM.

      One last thing. Does anyone remember this sequence in the Atlanta game. (times and yard lines are approximate) half coming to a close, 3rd and nine, 1:30 or so to go. Flynn scrambles for a 1st down at Atlanta 35 YL. Packers still have two time outs. MM does not call time out, clock continues to run (30 sec run off) and Flynn tries to dump it off to Kuhn. Then that crazy interception for a pick 6. Why not call time out and regroup? But here is the worst part. With about 16 seconds left, and the ball on their own 20 YL, MM calls two pass plays both incomplete. No, here is the worst part. On third down and ten with about 5 seconds to go, MM calls a running play and that is when Eddie Lacy hurt is ankle. I went nuts, just kneel down and regroup at half. No one on this blog, that I read, caught this. Total ineptness and stupidity. MM just can not get it together on game day. Always gets out coached. He caused Lacy’s injury!

      As my boy Fred G. Sanford used to say he is a “big Dummy!”

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 10

    • J204 says:

      Interesting stat with the 7-26 record trailing in the 4th quarter. I think a lot can be said from that.. It almost seems like he has too much on his plate in handling play calling, in-game management etc..

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  2. Nick Perry says:

    One last thing. Why does MM continue to put Marshall Newhouse on the field? He comes on for a play and gets a penalty. He can’t run block or pass block yet MM keeps putting him out there. Same can be said about MD Jennings. On Pittsburgh’s 2nd TD drive he was so awful they put Richardson in the game for awhile. Should have been the whole game IMO. With Jennings you know exactly what you have. A smallish Safety who doesn’t tackle well, cover well, and always seems confused in Capers scheme. Give Richardson some game time at least and see what you have.

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    • Big T says:

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Dave D says:

      MD Jennings is awful.

      Capers is brutal!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7

  3. Scheny Schen says:

    I encourage everyone to relax for a day and enjoy Christmas! Maybe Santa will bring us an active #12 for the holiday. GoPack!

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  4. Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

    CM3 done. ARod probably done. Cobb probably done. Lacy might be done. Hyde might be out too.

    Face it guys, we’re probably not winning in Chicago. But at least we’ve got the injury excuse.

    Wait till next year. Hopefully we stay healthy and MM self scouts. Maybe he replaces Capers with Rex Ryan.

    Offseason Needs:

    1. Safety
    2. DT to replace Raji/Pickett
    3. ILB
    4. TE
    5. WR to replace Jones
    6. CB to replace Tramon if he’s cut (and IMO he won’t take a pay cut – so he’ll leave TT no choice)

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    • Dr. C says:

      Agree that we are probably done.

      However, I’m sick and tired of the excuses. Every year we don’t win the championship, all I hear is either the officials cost us or injuries cost us.

      Packers and Packer fans need to stop with the excuses.

      Improvise, adapt, and over come.
      Winners don’t make excuses. We had tons of injuries in McCarthy’s Super Bowl year. We found a way to over come them. Capers did an incredible job that year. We picked up guys off the street and turned them into the defensive player of the week.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

      • Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

        Meh. We had injuries to CM3 for 4 games and at RB/OL/LB.

        2012 and 2013 injuries to blue chippers were way worse.

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  5. Since '61 says:

    Merry Christmas to my fellow bloggers and to Packer fans everywhere. Relax, enjoy and remember that we are fans of the greatest NFL organization and one of the most legendary franchises in all of sports. Have a happy holiday, safe travels to all and hope for a healthy Rodgers for Sunday’s game. Thanks, Since ’61

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    • Nick Perry says:

      To you as well Since 61. You’re absolutely right about the fans and organization. While we all may not agree with one another when giving our opinions, there are those that actually try to take the fun out of it with insults and name calling which is actually pretty hilarious when you think about it. Merry Christmas to all and thank you to Jersey Al and all the other writers for this site, and the time you take to make it possible.

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  6. Pete Kliman says:

    Merry Christmas to all and especially to the Packers’ coaching staff for giving us a very meaningful game at the end of the season after all the devasting injuries.We were competitive in all games but one.

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  7. Pete Kliman says:

    oops devastating

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  8. GBPDAN says:

    Merry Christmas everyone!

    I agree with those who are predicting that Rodgers won’t play. Why the Packers organization had to blow smoke about Rodgers injury is beyond me. Maybe it was to keep the team motivated, but all it did was caused drama. If the injury was 8-12 weeks, just announce it. I’ve heart a lot of people question Rodgers toughness, which isn’t fair.

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    • Nick Pwerry says:

      You’re right about Rodgers being questioned. We’ve all discussed this day would come one day where Rodgers was injured because of a sack. That man has taken a beating many a Sunday and got up and threw a TD the next play. This is just one of those injuries that you can’t rehab or do anything to speed up the process, it’s healed when it’s healed.

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  9. JimR_in_DC says:

    Merry Christmas everyone! Go Pack Go!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. Kevin says:

    Anyone questioning toughness in not playing with a broken collar bone is as wrong as Adam’s comment that the game hasn’t changed drastically since Favre’s prime. A broken collar bone is something you cannot play with, period. Hopefully it’s healed sufficiently to handle 300 pounds or so smashing it into the ground on the inevitable hit. As for the game change, nobody gets to hit a qb high, low or late and that is a drastic difference over the rules of play of just three years ago.

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  11. Martha Hess says:

    Gentlemen:

    This has been, at times, a very very painful year: we are not very good on defense; indeed, because of the unique contract situation, we will be losing some of our limited talent on defense. Furthermore, we probably will not beat Chicago. Ok But-

    1. Structurally we are in damn fine shape: I’ve got the best qb in football. I’ve got the best damn defensive player in the NFL. And I’ll take my young man from Alabama over any other running back.

    2. We have signed our best players without hurting the team in terms of
    cap.

    3. Finally: If anyone says a word about my head coach you will catch a small 70 year old former Sisters of the Notre Dame’s [nun]fist in your snout! His winning pct is 64% and his performance should gather him a “Coach of the Year” award. Furthermore, no talk of going to Seattle to run his own program. This Irish kid can coach!

    Merry Christmas!

    Martha in Green Bay

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    • Charlie says:

      Obviously all is subjective, but I think Bronco fans might think we don’t even have the best LB in the league, much less the best D player. Also, tying up a little under 1/4 of the total cap in AR and CMIII might be hurting the team’s overall cap management. Finally, MM does a lot of stuff very well, but he needs to learn to let others handle the parts where he’s not so good.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    • Archie says:

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

      Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

    • Dave D says:

      MM is brutal, dear in headlights on game day.

      Just saying…

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    • Steve Cheez says:

      Good catch on the Seattle angle!

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  12. James David says:

    Anybody that thinks that a team should win the super bowl every year is delusional. With the modern salary cap and reverse order drafting, you must draft well, sign lots of free agents who were not drafted, and hope that your team does not have too many key injuries. Every team needs a good general manager, scouts, coach, quarter back, left tackle, pass rusher, and a shutdown corner. Then it time to fill in the rest of the roster, make the playoffs, and hope you can “get hot”.

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    • marpag says:

      Agreed, James. I might narrow it down even a bit more, though. It seems championships are won, not by having solid players throughout the entire 53 man roster, and not even by having a dozen or so players that are really very good. It’s about having two or three players who are truly great … really transcendent players who stand head and shoulders above the other guys. And that’s quadruply important at the QB position. So you get those two or three exceptional, extraordinary guys, pay them a king’s ransom, and you piece the rest of the roster together as best you can.

      So Aaron Rodgers goes down, Matthews gets banged up, the team tanks, and half of Packerdom suddenly feels as if the entire organization has been exposed as a fraud. Well, gee… that’s because Rodgers and Matthews are two of those transcendent sort of guys. The ARod’s and CM3′s of the NFL are how you win.

      It’s a generalization, of course, but I think there’s a lot of truth to it.

      Merry Christmas to all.

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  13. GBPDAN says:

    Merry Christmas Martha, welcome to the Blog

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. Dobber says:

    “… in hopes of fending off comparisons to Brett Favre, who undoubtedly would have played through a broken leg and a freshly amputated throwing hand.”

    Dumb animals don’t feel pain like people do…
    ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  15. tim says:

    Despite the injuries, doom and gloom of this season, the packers are still in the hunt! Not a bad present to find under the Christmas tree. Merry Christmas to the cast of characters sharing wisdom here & all good packer fans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  16. Martha Hess says:

    Thank you Daniel: Merry Christmas.

    P.S. Who is better than Michael McCarthy as a head coach? [With at least 125 games played?]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. Since '61 says:

    Very good Martha! The Packers and HC McCarthy are the only NFC team to make the playoffs in 5 of the last 6 seasons. If we win on Sunday it be 6 out of 7 seasons for McCarthy and the Pack. Welcome to the blog. If you stick around you will find that we have some fellow bloggers who would have fired Vince Lombardi. Thanks, Since ’61

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    • Mark says:

      Thanks ’61. In the modern era the pundits would have been calling for Vince’s head in the lull between championships.

      Frustrated fan in us looks at 2010 team. They had free agents to fill needs. Green and Peprah were acquired in desperation and did a serviceable job. Confused why we went into this season with no legit SS, it has killed us all year, you could see it coming, and safeties are cheap.

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  18. home says:

    The people handing out the drink coupons can usually be found directly outside of the clubs they work for. Writing can do a lot of things for you, but first you have to become comfortable with the writing process.

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