Sunday, December 12, 2004

Too Close for Comfort

Packers 16 - Lions 13

At this point in the season, it's all about wins and losses, and -- thanks to yet another true Longwell field goal at the end of the game -- this was a win. Better yet, thanks to the Seahawks' victory over the Vikings earlier this afternoon, it's us in true sole possession of first place in the NFC North.

In the long-run, though, a win like this -- while both exciting and a relief -- really doesn't exactly scream "juggernaut" for the Packers. I would argue that our team has not really changed much all season long. It's not that we haven't improved enough, it's really more like we haven't improved at all. Our weakest link is our defense. We aren't consistent enough to stop our opponents, and you know what they say: "Defense wins championships." This year, the team we've allowed to score the fewest number of points against us has been the Lions, who scored 10 the first time we met. The average number of points against us through 13 games is 24. That's about 14 too many. In '96, all of our opponents -- through 19 games, including the Super Bowl -- scored a total of 258 points against us. In 13 games this year, we've already allowed over 300.

This game was a story of two halves. We didn't really show up for the first one. Brett didn't even complete his first pass until there were 7 minutes left in the half! However, in his defense, the wind was really just howling up at Lambeau (and here, too, actually). Detroit sure didn't seem to be having too much trouble with the weather, though. My guess is that Sherman ripped a few heads off at halftime, since they played much more inspired football in half #2. I'm inclined to think that the Lambeau crowd had a lot to do with it, too, though. The Lions started off with a bunch of stupid defensive penalties which helped us march down the field. Every one of their mistakes fueled our fans, and it got loud. We came away with only 3 points, but it made a difference. It's like, once our offense proved to themselves that they could actually score, it made it easier for them to do it again.

Some contrast with our last 16 - 13 victory: Against the Texans, we killed ourselves with offensive penalties leading to 1st-and-longs we could never seem to convert. (Today, it wasn't 3rd-and-long we couldn't convert, it was 3rd-and-2.) In this game, we killed ourselves with defensive penalties. If Gimli is smart, he'll challenge his players to go a whole game without penalties. Today, we had 9 for 95 yards -- that's basically 5 away from giving away a TD. Last week, we had 12 for 99.

I have high expecations for the Jags game next week... 'cuz I'll be there. Chris and I make our annual trek to Lambeau for that game. I'd love no penalties! Better yet, I'd love to watch the Vikings complete their annual end-of-season collapse at Detroit on the TVs in the Atrium before our 3:15 kickoff! We're back to controlling our own destiny. We can't squandor another opportunity like this. We win out, we win the NFC North... for the third year in a row. With all of the streaks we seem to be ending this year, it'd sure be nice if that was one we could continue.


Post a Comment

<< Home