by Dave DeLano
The Green Bay Packers were not expected to win on Sunday night, entering the game as a 14-point underdog. They played much better than expected but ended up losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers on a last second 53-yard field goal by a score of 31-28.
The Steelers were riding a five-game winning streak going into this game. They drew first blood, scoring a touchdown on their opening drive. The Packers responded quickly with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Brett Hundley to Randall Cobb thanks to blown coverage. An interception by Damarius Randall led to a nicely executed screen-pass touchdown to Jamaal Williams that went for 54 yards. By halftime the Packers had gone toe-to-toe with a superior-talented Steelers team and the score was tied at 14-14.
Mike McCarthy made a great call on the opening drive of the second half with a third-down situation. Hundley hit a streaking Davante Adams for a 55-yard touchdown pass and the Packers took the lead. All was going well when Ahmad Brooks then tipped a pass that was intercepted by Blake Martinez. Unfortunately the Packers went into a funk at that point and no points resulted from that turnover. An ill-advised long field goal attempt led to good field position for the Steelers, which turned into a score for them and the game was again tied at 21.
The Packer offense then went three and out in 50 seconds. At the beginning of the final quarter Mike Daniels forced a fumble, but again the offense sputtered, going three and out. The Steelers then put together a long drive on which Davon House was thoroughly beaten for a 33-yard touchdown pass and the Steelers took the lead 28-21 with nine minutes remaining. The Packers were still game and mounted a 77-yard scoring drive which culminated with Jamaal Williams’ short touchdown run as they tied the score at 28 with two minutes left in regulation.
The Packer defense held and with 1:28 left to play Green Bay got the ball back and a chance to win the game. Unfortunately, Brett Hundley took a sack that an experienced quarterback would not have, and the Packer offense went three and out once again. The Steelers completed a 25-yard pass and then a 14-yard pass with just seconds remaining, which set up the winning field goal. And then it was over.
We are now 5- 6 on the season and chances for entry into the playoffs are a long shot. The Packers’ next two games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Lambeau) and then on the road against the winless Cleveland Browns are quite winnable. Brett Hundley performed well in the Steelers game, throwing for 246 yards, three touchdowns and zero turnovers. Similar performances against the next two opponents could get the Packers into a position to allow for the return of Aaron Rodgers for the final three games and then who knows.
The more likely scenario is another loss or two over the next few weeks and the Packers fall further into the abyss that the 2017 season has already become. Something good needs to come from the season that saw the catastrophic loss of Aaron Rodgers and that has yet to play out. Perhaps a coaching change or the retirement of Ted Thompson will occur. There are five more games this season for the story to unfold. The Packers host the Buccaneers next week and they are slight favorites as the drama continues.