Typical of all the games thus far in 2005 except the Saints game, the Green Bay Packers squandered too many opportunities Sunday and came up short in a 20 - 10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Packer defense gave another feisty effort, and the offense was generally able to move the football, but the Steelers have a better team this year and they proved it Sunday. The Packers now fall to 1 - 7 this year.
The injury situation with the Packer running backs has become surreal. Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport are out for the season. Number 3 running back Tony Fisher was banged up last week and unable to suit up this week. That meant that ReShard Lee got to start as feature back against the Steelers' tough defense. Lee fumbled the second time he carried the ball and was immediately benched in favor of Samkon Gado. Gado, a Nigerian-born undrafted rookie out of Liberty University, actually played a pretty decent game. He looks pretty quick and runs tough. If the offensive line ever gets its act together, Gado might be able to put up some big numbers.
While Gado's performance was respectable, other Packers made critical mistakes and numerous opportunities to score were squandered. Silly motion and false start penalties, a botched field goal, and an offensive line that can't seem to run block this year contributed to this loss. The Packers committed three turnovers Sunday which led to 17 Steeler points"Štoo many points to spot a good team like the Steelers.
While the lack of offensive playmakers due to injuries is obvious, Cheeseheads are seeing numerous mistakes repeated again and again this year by some veteran players. Some of those guys are playing themselves out of a job. Last week Joey Thomas was cut mid-week because he wasn't contributing and wasn't improving. There may be more pink slips to follow.
The Steeler game marked the half-way point of the season. If the losses continue, we are about 3 weeks away from discussion of next spring's draft picks in this column. But"Šthere are still eight games left to play this year, and it will be interesting to see how this season plays out. Some Cheeseheads are crying for Coach Mike Sherman's scalp. Losing is a very ugly thing in Titletown and it likely will get worse before it gets better.
Next week the Packers travel to Atlanta to do battle with Michael Vick and the high-flying Falcons. Defensive Coordinator Jim Bates has been a miracle worker for the Green Bay defense thus far this year. But Vick is a nightmare for any defense to plan for as he has incredible improvisional abilities. A couple years ago Vick single-handedly picked apart the Pack in a play-off game. The Falcons are in the hunt for an NFC title run this year and the Pack will have to play a near flawless game to have a chance to win.