The Green Bay Packers literally slipped themselves into a murky mess with a 17 - 14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles Monday night in yet another game they should have won. The nasty Green Bay weather played a huge factor in this game, as both teams struggled with hanging on to the slippery pigskin. But in the end, the Packers slipped to a 4 -5 record and in the process failed to distinguish themselves from a lot of other mediocre NFC teams in the 2003 season.
Ahman Green had a particularly difficult time hanging on to the ball as did some of the other Packers who in total, fumbled 6 times Monday night. What is Mike Sherman to do with this guy who has all the running back talent in the world, but simply cannot hang on to the ball? Green set a personal and all-time team record by rushing for 192 yards against the Eagles and caught a bunch of passes as well. He is such a talent. But"¦. Ahman coughs up the ball. There is not a nice way to say it. This was the reason he was traded to Green Bay and now he is Mike Sherman's problem to deal with. Green wasn't the only one with butterfingers on a very nasty night as Brett Favre could not hold onto the pigskin either. I gave Favre a pass Monday night due to his broken thumb, but I don't know what to make of Ahman Green. Green is the most talented running back ever to play for the green and gold but his fumbling is so frustrating.
This game could well have been won by the Pack as their defense stepped it up several notches. The linebackers played particularly well, in part due to the part to the play of newcomer Grady Jackson. Jackson, who was just signed this past week after being released by the New Orleans Saints, immediately showed that he deserves a starting role in the Packer defensive line. He played extensively in his first outing as a Packer and looked good (as good as a man can look who weighs some 370+ pounds.) The fact that he became available was indeed fortunate for the Packers, but it also says something about the talent level of the other Packer linemen when he can step right in and shine. Another newcomer, Larry Smith, saw considerable playing time and did pretty well. Overall, I thought the Packers played as strong a defense as they have all year in the first half against the Eagles, but perhaps much of their success was attributable to the misty/foggy weather.
However, when the game was on the line, the Packer defense came up short and with just seconds remaining the Eagles culminated a long drive with a touchdown pass and another game was lost that could have been won. Unfortunately, this has become a reoccurring theme of the 2003 Packers.
Next week the Packers travel to Tampa Bay to play the world champion Buccaneers in the late game Sunday. The Buccaneers have not played like champions this year though and are struggling with a 4 - 5 record. The match-up will be interesting if for no other reason than it will be the first encounter with Buc's bad boy Warren Sapp since he almost ended Chad Clifton's career last year with a devastating and somewhat controversial block. The Bucs no longer have the powerhouse defense that was their trademark last year. They can be taken at home, but the Pack needs to play smart football and that starts with holding on to the football.