Upon Further Review: Packers Week 16

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
8:00
AM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A review of four hot issues from the Green Bay Packers' 38-31 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at Lambeau Field:

Bell outlasts Lacy: In the battle of rookie running backs, the Steelers' Le'Veon Bell got the better of it, although things might have been different had Eddie Lacy been able to stay in the game. Lacy reinjured his sprained right ankle -- the one that had him in a walking boot for most of the days between games the past two weeks -- and missed the entire fourth quarter. Lacy was on his way to another big game. As it was, he rushed for 84 yards on 15 carries (a 5.6-yard average) and scored two touchdowns. By running his season total to 1,112 yards rushing, he surpassed John Brockington's rookie rushing record of 1,105 set in 1971. Lacy's status for the regular-season finale against the Chicago Bears remained in doubt. “I'm definitely going to do everything I can do to get it feeling as good as I possibly can so I can go out and be with my team next week,” Lacy said. Bell rushed for 124 yards on 26 carries and scored one touchdown. The Steelers passed on Lacy because of injury concerns and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said last week that it was “an easy decision” to draft Bell over Lacy.

[+] EnlargeEddie Lacy
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsEddie Lacy rushed for 84 yards on 15 carries against the Steelers, but missed the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle.
Pick-six times three: In his career as the Packers' starting quarterback, Aaron Rodgers has thrown exactly one interception that was returned for a touchdown -- against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009. Since his Nov. 4 collarbone injury, Rodgers' replacements have thrown three of them. The latest pick-six came in the third quarter against the Steelers. Flynn had a run-pass option on the play and decided to throw a quick hitch to Jarrett Boykin, who was split out to the right. However, tight end Andrew Quarless, who was lined up in the backfield intending to block for Lacy, collided with Flynn as he was in his throwing motion. The ball sailed on Flynn, and Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. “It's a run play first but with a pass option,” Quarless said. “It was just a messed-up play. I'm anxious to look at it on film.” Said Flynn, who has two of the three pick-sixes this season: “I've got to do a better job of understanding where my tight end has to fill according to where his linebacker is and get out of his way. I was coming up, and he hit me on my left side and turned me and pulled the ball up. It was just one of those unfortunate plays, and I definitely wish I could take that one back.”

Killer penalties: The most memorable penalties were Nick Perry's encroachment on fourth-and-3 in the fourth quarter when the Steelers were lining up for a field goal, and T.J. Lang's false start (announced as a penalty on Don Barclay) with 20 seconds to go. “Presnap penalties are unacceptable,” coach Mike McCarthy said. Penalties were a problem throughout the game. The Packers had nine penalties -- one short of their season high -- for 90 yards. B.J. Raji's personal foul for unnecessary roughness when he retaliated after Steelers guard Cody Wallace hit him came on a drive that ended with a touchdown that put the Steelers ahead 24-21 late in the third quarter. In the second quarter, guard Josh Sitton's face mask penalty on third-and-8 from the Steelers' 35-yard line wiped out an 8-yard catch by Jordy Nelson. The Packers ended up punting on that drive.

Let them score: A week after the Dallas Cowboys let the Packers score the go-ahead touchdown in order to give themselves as much time as possible, the Packers used the same strategy. But they may have waited one play too long to do it. The Packers let Bell score on a 1-yard touchdown run on second-and-goal with 1:25 remaining. However, had they done it one play earlier, they not only would have saved themselves a few seconds but also a timeout. They burned their last one after Bell rushed for 4 yards on first-and-goal at the 5. When asked why they didn't let Bell score on that play, Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk said: “I don't know. That's a good question.”

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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