Sunday, October 23, 2005

Tale of Two Halves

Packers 20 - Vikings 23

I wish the second half could have just been a carbon copy of the first half. Or that Edinger had missed that 56-yarder at the end so that we could've had the third half to dominate. Alas, wishes are not granted for Packers fans this year.

The first quarter was scoreless but not uneventful; we sacked Culpepper thrice. It was awesome. The 10th-ranked defense in the NFL looked like they deserved their standing. Lots of runs, so the quarter ended fast.

We continued our third possession in the second quarter, and that possession ended with a perfect 22-yard toss and beautiful one-handed catch, from Favre to Driver. Then the 'queens continued their error-filled play with a fumble on fourth-and-one/turnover on downs. We turned around and scored again. Even when it looked like Minnesota was going to do something -- they returned our kickoff for 72 yards -- we denied them -- KGB recovered a fumble we forced on their first play after that. That turned into three more and we ended the half up 17-0. Brett completed his first 13 passes in a row and must have had a perfect QB rating by halftime.

The only pieces of bad news in the half were that 1) Longwell missed a 53-yarder, and 2) Fergie went out when he hyperextended his knee after a 44-yard catch.

Then we came out for the second half and went three-and-out, missed a 42-yarder, and went three-and-out again. Meanwhile, we let the 'queens score on all of their possessions. In the end, we lost when their kicker, who just sucked in their last game against the Bears, kicked a field goal that was three yards longer than Longwell's longest miss (and 14 yards longer than his shortest one).

Fourth regular-season game in a row against the Vikes that was decided by a field goal. Unfortunately, this time it was their field goal.

So, how is it that a team can have the 10th-ranked defense and Brett Favre leading its offense, and start the season 1-5?! We've now lost four of those by three points or less, so we're close, but close doesn't give you a W.

Too bad, dammit. Saying "we're one of the better sucky teams out there this year" isn't much consolation.


Monday, October 10, 2005

Happy Brett Favre Day

Packers 52 - Saints 3

Brett 36 - Happy Birthday!

If this is going to be a Jekyll & Hyde season, I'll take the Jekyll days like yesterday any time. Finally, we fired on all cylinders. We didn't make mistakes, we capitalized on the opponents'. We didn't get the ball taken from us, we took the ball. Al Harris started a barrage of turnovers in the first quarter, when he picked off Aaron Brooks and returned the interception for a TD -- it looked almost exactly like the play he made to end the game against Seattle in the opening week of the Playoffs after the 2003 season. Then, 59 seconds later, Harris picked Brooks off again. He nearly had a hat trick, but dropped a near-interception of one of Bouman's passes in the fourth quarter. (He did get a sack, too, though!)

Then the rest of the defense started looking for the ball. It's like they collectively realized (finally), hey, we can actually take the ball AWAY from them! There were two fumble recoveries and then Nick Barnett sealed the win -- and ratcheted the total up to 52 unanswered points -- with a 95-yard interception return, the second-longest in Packers history. Five turnovers from a team who had only managed two in the previous four games. It's a start.

There's bad news, too, of course. Najeh Davenport -- who racked up over 50 yards in 12 carries and 2 TDs -- broke his ankle near the end of the first half. He's out for the season. This is definitely the time of year when injuries tend to pile up, but this is getting ridiculous. Of course, if it means that more of our backups can step up and perform (note: Favre's three TD passes were all to guys listed as backups at the start of the season), then perhaps it's a blessing in disguise.

So, finally, a good first:
  • First time the Packers have ever scored more than 50 points in a game with Favre as QB
Oh, and yesterday was Brett's 230th consecutive start (including the Playoffs), and our 35 points in the first half was the most we've scored since his tenth start against the Lions in Milwaukee. Incidentally, the Lions now (shudder) lead the NFC North with their two wins.

So, is this the turnaround? We'll see. We have a tough schedule ahead. The bye week is coming at the right time (yet again), and hopefully we can get healthy. In the meantime, it really feels good knowing that, in games we've lost this season, we've lost by an average of less than 5 points; in the ones we've won, we're averaging a 49 point differential.


Thursday, October 06, 2005


Packers 29 - Panthers 32

Thought the Monday night stage might spark a fire under the Pack. If it did, it didn't reach most of the players until the fourth quarter, when we played catch-up. Carolina had scored first, and we did answer in the first quarter, but then they piled up 19 unanswered points. Two more turnovers didn't hurt. And even after we started rallying, allowing a 60 yard punt return didn't help. "Tackling" an opponent by escorting him for 30 yards is also not quite as effective as, say, stopping his forward progress.

The last quarter of this game felt better than the first three, much like the third game felt better than the first two. In the end, though, none of them have been victories. Last year, we started at 1-4, so it's not like we don't know what four losses in a row feels like, but this really is a different team than we had a year ago. Nobody's predicting much greatness for us, either. Last year, it seemed like people were still in our corner. This year, we're on the outside looking in.

I think we'll be 1-4 for the second year in a row after Sunday's game. We'll see if we can string together some wins here. If we can't improve and get healthy (both physically and mentally), though, I don't know how we'll get much more than five wins out of the season. As so many have pointed out already, of course, in the NFC North this year, even that may get us our fourth consecutive Division Championship!

Oh, and rookie Terrence Murphy got a bruised spine in that how-were-there-no-flags-on-that-play hit. He's out for the season. Add him to the long list of injuries after Monday's game, and 1-4 still won't be easy.