Green Bay Packers: 2013 Week 11 GB at NYG

Packers try to make sense of 3-game slide

November, 17, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Green Bay Packers’ once-promising season appears to be slipping away -- and that doesn’t sit well with rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari.

“It sucks. It’s not good,” Bakhtiari said following the team’s third straight loss, 27-13 to the New York Giants Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium. “Going through college [at Colorado], I wouldn’t say I got used to it. It was f---ing terrible. This is the same thing. It’s terrible.”

The Packers (5-5), who are now a game behind the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears in the NFC North standings, hadn’t lost three in a row since 2008, when injured superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers was in his first year as the starter.

“It’s not good. We’re definitely in different territory, at least since I got here in 2009,” outside linebacker Clay Matthews said. “We’re talking about 11-5, 10-6, 15-1, 11-5 … to lose three, it doesn’t feel good. At least on the defensive side, it’s not as if we’re not trying. I know we’re going out there and playing to the last whistle.

“But right now, we’re not playing our best ball -- and we need to. The NFC North leaders are 6-4 right now, we’re 5-5. We’ve got to continue to move forward with the guys we have and play better. That’s what it comes down to.”

Said linebacker A.J. Hawk: “Obviously this wasn’t what we had planned, this wasn’t what we had envisioned. But I think Coach always says everything’s out in front of us for us to take. To know we have a chance to get to where we want is something positive to take from it. We need to get back on track. Three-game losing streaks are not the norm around here, that’s for sure.”

The Packers have clearly missed Rodgers, and their defense hasn’t done much to pick up the offense. They need to turn things around quickly. During their three-game losing streak, they’ve been outscored 81-46.

“I think definitely better days are ahead,” coach Mike McCarthy said.

Asked to expand on that, McCarthy added: “Winning. It’s about winning. We don’t have to dance around the fact that we’ve lost three in a row. We need to win games. We’re not doing enough of the little things, top to bottom. Are we tackling well enough? Are we making enough plays? We’re not getting the ball in the end zone, so we need to score more points. We need to keep them out of the end zone more. We need more big-play production, that’s how you win in this league.”

Packers' D allows more plays than it makes

November, 17, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Cornerback Tramon Williams' diving interception late in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the New York Giants was supposed to be the play that galvanized the Green Bay Packers' defense.

It didn't.

The Packers managed to sack Giants quarterback Eli Manning four times, but did little else to pick up third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien and the team's anemic offense in a 27-13 loss at MetLife Stadium.

[+] EnlargeNew York's Victor Cruz
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsThe Packers allowed Giants receiver Victor Cruz to collect eight catches for 110 yards.
Defensively, they gave up several big plays and allowed the Giants to convert twice on fourth down. Manning found slot man Victor Cruz eight times for 110 yards, while bruising back Andre Brown pounded his way to 66 yards on 18 carries. Overall, the Giants were able to roll up 334 yards of total offense.

“We didn't get it done,” Williams said. “We're facing adversity right now, but the only thing we can do is come back to work, keep fighting, stick together and that's what we're about. Adversity is hitting us right now, and no one's making any excuses. We just need to get back to work.”

The Packers came into the game significantly short-handed in the secondary due to hamstring injuries that kept cornerbacks Sam Shields and Casey Hayward out of action. Still, they felt like they could overcome it. But they couldn't.

“We're in place here to win, and when you don't win, it's a terrible feeling,” defensive end B.J. Raji said. “As men, only we can change that. So we have to move on and hopefully try to get a win next Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.”

With Shields and Hayward on the sidelines, reserves Davon House and Micah Hyde lost Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle on a 26-yard touchdown pass that gave New York a 7-0 lead with 5:34 left in the first quarter. There were also coverage breakdowns on Manning's 35-yard pass to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and his 30-yard pass to Cruz, who seemed to find holes in Green Bay's zone all game long.

Asked if the defense played well enough to give the team a chance to win, Packers coach Mike McCarthy responded, “I'm not going to sit here and give you an evaluation.”

Perhaps the only positive was that outside linebacker Clay Matthews felt more comfortable playing with a smaller cast. Matthews finished with four tackles and a sack.

“Just reducing that cast to a traditional fiberglass cast really helped me out,” Matthews said. “I'm getting really close to being back to my old self, but I felt like I was at times resembling that as far as my pass rush, my balance, dropping into coverage, just overall playing the game.

“Like we said last week, it's a mini victory in itself that you don't suffer any more damage to an injury and hopefully it'll continue to progress next week to where it will be 100 percent. So I'm happy with the progress that's made and I'm happy with where I've come from last week to this week.”

Scott Tolzien accepts blame for turnovers

November, 17, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Scott Tolzien made too many mistakes in his first NFL start.

And the Green Bay Packers’ third-string quarterback accepted responsibility for all of them.

Tolzien, who finished 24-of-34 passing, threw three interceptions in Green Bay’s 27-13 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.

[+] EnlargeScott Tolzien
AP Photo/Bill KostrounOn Sunday against the Giants, Scott Tolzien was the third different Packers' starting quarterback in the past 13 days.
“Three turnovers, that’s the bottom line. Those are killers,” Tolzien said. “The guys work too hard, and that’s on me completely.”

The 26-year-old, who went undrafted in 2011 after playing his college ball at Wisconsin, made the start because superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) and his backup, Seneca Wallace (season-ending groin injury), are both hurt. Tolzien came in in relief of Wallace last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and threw two interceptions in his NFL debut.

“I think you can’t look past all of the positive things he did, but at the same time, we have to be real honest about it,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “He knows it. Everyone knows it. Five interceptions in two games is something that will be addressed.”

Tolzien’s second interception Sunday afternoon proved to be the backbreaker. With 10:49 left in the fourth quarter and the Packers trailing 20-13, Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul jumped, caught Tolzien’s pass intended for wide receiver Andrew Quarless at the line of scrimmage, and easily took it in for a touchdown.

“He jumped up and made a nice play, a game-changer,” Tolzien said. “When I evaluate myself on that one, you see the arms up in the air, you can’t throw it.”

Tolzien also failed to see Giants linebacker Jon Beason as the quarterback tried to hit wide receiver James Jones on a slant route on the team’s opening drive of the second quarter.

“I didn’t see him, but as a quarterback, if you don’t see him, you can’t make the throw,” Tolzien said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Tolzien’s final interception came late in the game when he overthrew wide receiver Jarrett Boykin, and Giants safety Antrel Rolle was playing centerfield.

The Packers (5-5), who have not lost three in a row since Rodgers’ first year as a starter (2008), tried to establish their running game early in order to set Tolzien up in third down-and-short situations. But they could never get it going.

Eddie Lacy, who led the NFL in rushing the previous five weeks, was held to just 27 yards on 14 carries. He did score a touchdown.

“We knew it was gonna be tough going into it, they were going to have a lot of people in the box, but we tried the best we could,” Lacy said. “We went out there and played hard for 60 minutes, but it just didn’t work out well.”

When he had time, Tolzien was able to make plays. He connected with top target Jordy Nelson eight times for 117 yards, and hit Boykin six times for 91 yards.

But when it came down to it, Tolzien was obviously no Rodgers.

Asked if he expects to start next week, Tolzien said, “That’s the coach’s decision. I’m going to just get better. That’s where I stand right now, evaluate myself and improve as a quarterback. A lot of learning from this game and learn from it and keep getting better every day. That’s simple, but that’s the plan.”

Tolzien was the third different Packers’ starting quarterback in the past 13 days. Before this stretch, Green Bay only had three different starters in the past 21 years.

Rodgers is pushing to return before Thanksgiving. And, with their season slipping away, the Packers desperately need him back.

Rapid Reaction: Green Bay Packers

November, 17, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the Green Bay Packers' 27-13 loss to the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.

What it means: The Packers' once promising season is quickly crumbling -- and all injured superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers can do is watch. Green Bay (5-5) lost its third straight game and fell a game behind Detroit (6-4) and Chicago (6-4) in the NFC North standings. The Packers had not lost three in a row since 2008.

Tolzien time: With Rodgers and Seneca Wallace hurt, third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien made his first career start. The undrafted free-agent signee out of Wisconsin finished 24-of-34 passing for 339 yards, but threw three interceptions -- two of them extremely ill-advised attempts.

On the team’s opening drive of the second half, Tolzien was trying to hit wideout James Jones with a slant route, but he never saw Giants linebacker Jon Beason, who picked off the pass.

Then, with 10:55 remaining in the fourth quarter, Tolzien was trying to hit wideout Andrew Quarless, but he never saw Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who snagged the pass at the line and waltzed in for a 24-yard touchdown.

The final pick was overthrown and snagged by Giants safety Antrel Rolle in center field. Overall, Tolzien was quite effective when he had time. He just made two really bad rookie mistakes.

Locking down Lacy: Eddie Lacy, the NFL’s leading rusher the past five weeks of the season, was held to just 27 yards on 14 carries. New York’s defensive line was stout, and limited Lacy from getting into the second level. Lacy did score on a 4-yard touchdown run with 12:52 left in the fourth quarter.

Gashed: Other than a diving interception by cornerback Tramon Williams at the end of the second quarter -- the team’s first interception since Week 7 in Cleveland -- and back-to-back sacks by Brad Jones and Clay Matthews early in the fourth quarter, the Giants pretty much manhandled the Packers' defense. New York rolled up 334 yards of total offense, while Victor Cruz had a field day from the slot, finishing with eight receptions for 110 yards.

Almost doesn’t count: Facing a fourth-and-7 from the Giants’ 43 with 6:32 remaining in the third quarter, the Packers went with a fake punt. The ball was snapped to the up-back, M.D. Jennings, but he was tackled a yard shy of the first-down marker. And on its ensuing possession, New York capped off a 10-play, 63-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Brandon Jacobs, making it 20-6.

Injury report: The Packers were without cornerbacks Sam Shields and Casey Hayward due to hamstring injuries. They were also missing starting right tackle Don Barclay and left outside linebacker Nick Perry. The team announced at halftime that defensive tackle Johnny Jolly would not return due to a groin injury. Later, cornerback James Nixon left the game due to a knee injury and did not return.

What’s next: The Packers will host the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

Packers announce Jolly out at halftime

November, 17, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Green Bay Packers announced at halftime that right defensive end Johnny Jolly would not return to Sunday’s game against the New York Giants due to a groin injury.

It is unknown when Jolly hurt his groin, though it was a pre-existing injury.

He originally hurt his groin in the fourth quarter of last week’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

C.J. Wilson replaced Jolly at right defensive end.

Jolly came into Sunday’s game with eight solo tackles and a sack.

The team also announced that cornerback James Nixon has a knee injury and will not return.

W2W4: Packers at Giants

November, 16, 2013
With Aaron Rodgers sidelined, the Packers are at a crucial stage of their season. They need to keep their head above water in the NFC's playoff picture until their star quarterback returns. Having lost last week, Green Bay needs to get a win Sunday in New York. Below are three key bullet points to help them get past the Giants and improve their record to 6-4.

Make the Giants one dimensional: New York has been among the worst running teams in the NFL in 2013 but have at least 30 rushing attempts in each game during their three-game winning streak. With little running game to speak of for most of the season, Eli Manning has been under siege by opposing pass rushers and has tried to do far too much in forcing the football. The results have not been pretty, with far too many Giants turnovers. New York's offensive line has thoroughly struggled in the run and pass game and is among the league's worst. Even though Andre Brown returned last week and was quite impressive rushing for 115 yards against the Raiders, New York's offensive line had a difficult time getting Pat Sims blocked and Brown did average just 3.8 yards per carry after toting the rock a whopping 30 times. Sims is a big-bodied defensive tackle who is quite similar to B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett in terms of girth and playing style. If the Giants are unable to move the interior of Green Bay's defensive line -- and I think that will be the case -- New York's running game, even with Brown back in the fold, could be ineffective.

Stay balanced on offense: This will be Scott Tolzien's first start. He did some good things last week against the Eagles. He isn't bashful about making throws or taking chances. Tolzien also has a strong group of receiving options, including Brandon Boykin, whom Tolzien favored last week. Prince Amukamara is playing well for the Giants and this secondary has done a good job disallowing big plays of late, but the rest of New York's back seven on defense is quite beatable -- and Amukamara is far from a shut-down defender. But the Giants' defensive line is deep and has been quite strong against the run of late. Still, New York will be looking to take away Eddie Lacy and the Packers' exceptional running game first and foremost. This should allow Tolzien to find matchups to his liking in the passing game. If Tolzien doesn't make too many mistakes -- which is an area of concern -- and continues to make throws, Lacy should find more and more running room and could take this game over in the fourth quarter.

Play better on the back end: The Packers' secondary was abused thoroughly by the Eagles last week and their best cover man, Casey Hayward (Hamstring), will not be playing against the Giants. Hakeem Nicks isn't as dangerous as he once was, but he certainly cannot be ignored either. Reuben Randle is highly talented, but also quite inconsistent at his young stage of his career. Victor Cruz has not been productive of late by his standards, but he can break a game open at any time or can pick apart a secondary with shear volume. These three combined for just 137 receiving yards, but should give the Packers' secondary all it can handle. And while Manning is in the midst of a terrible season, he hasn't all of a sudden forgotten how to play this game. Getting to Manning will be of the utmost importance to aid the struggling secondary. Clay Matthews, playing with a heavily wrapped hand, was less than effective in his first game back from injury last week. Should we expect more in his second game back? Perhaps, but that is difficult to predict. But what we do know is that, when right, Matthews is truly a special player. While Nick Perry (foot) remains doubtful for this game, the name to know here is Mike Daniels, who quietly has been a wrecking machine as an interior pass rusher. Daniels could give the Giants' offensive line fits.