The Green Bay Packers went into Monday night's game against the Carolina Panthers ranked dead last in the league with their awful turnover ratio. Turnovers and critical mistakes continued to take a toll on the beleaguered 2005 Packers to doom them once again in this game. The final score was 32 - 29, in a heart-breaking loss.
The Central Division of the NFC is a pretty pathetic lot thus far in 2005. I watched parts of the Lions loss to Tampa Bay and the Vikings debacle against the Falcons on Sunday and thought"¦hey, maybe the Pack can come back and compete in this lackluster division. The Lions have a real dilemma with a quarterback who doesn't seem capable of getting the ball to their corps of stud receivers. The Vikings have major offensive line problems, a quarterback with fumbleitis, and a defense that hasn't played up to expectations. The Bears didn't play last Sunday, but when they do they will still be da Bears.
As for the Packers on Monday night"¦ the game started out with a Packer mistake by the offensive line leading to a fumble, which led to an easy touchdown for the Panthers. The Packers came back with a nice drive and scored on a pass from Brett Favre to David Martin. But a disastrous second quarter marred by injuries, mistakes, blown coverage, penalties, and another turnover led to a 23 - 7 halftime deficit. One particularly horrible play came when a Carolina running back caught a pass and then took Packer back-up safety Earl Little on a 20-yard piggy-back ride down the field.
Battered by all kinds of injuries and backed into a tight corner, it was questionable if the Pack had enough starch to return in the second half and make a game of it. Favre did come back in the third quarter with a nice TD pass to Donald Driver, but special teams broke down on the ensuing kickoff and the Panthers were able to quickly regain their edge. The fourth quarter brought two more TD passes by Favre, and a gritty performance by the defense. Indeed, the Pack battled back and came darn close to pulling off a miraculous comeback, but instead, fell short again.
Green Bay has one more game before their bye week when they will host the homeless New Orleans Saints and no doubt be a well-deserved underdog again. In fact, the whole Central Division may well be underdogs next week as the collective number of wins by all four teams after four weeks of play is three. That might be some kind of record for ineptitude.
Who knows how the Packers will react to this kind of adversity. The Panther game with the nice second-half comeback proved the 2005 team has character, but until the turnover ratio is reversed, wins will be rare this year. However, despite being winless, the Packers are still only a game and a half from first place in this pathetic division. Seven wins just might take the Central Division this year. After this dismal start, seven wins for the Pack sounds pretty good.