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Packer Partisan (10/08/2008)
By Dave DeLano

Falcons Prevail Over Slumping Packers

The Green Bay Packers lost to the Atlanta Falcons Sunday in an ugly affair at Lambeau by a final score of 27 – 24. The Packers never led in this game and it appeared to your Cheesehead scribe that a troubling pattern has developed. For the third week in a row the Packers have lost the battle along both lines of scrimmage.

The game started off badly for the Pack, spotting the Falcons 10 points in the first quarter as the offense contributed absolutely nothing while the defense proved susceptible to the Falcons’ powerful running game. Aaron Rodgers got the Pack on the scoreboard by halftime with a nice touchdown pass to Donald Driver The Falcons came right back though with a 90–yard drive to give them a 17 – 7 lead at halftime. Rodgers turned in a gutsy performance playing with shoulder and elbow injuries.

Rodgers, obviously playing with pain, got the Pack back in the game with a touchdown pass to Greg Jennings to tie the game at 17 - 17 with 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter, but mistakes and penalties became so numerous that a win for the Packers on this day was impossible. Nine penalties costing 94 yards are too many. The Packers are the second-most penalized team in the league this year and that is not a good thing.

Being mugged in the trenches for the third straight week is revolting. Offensive tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher have had productive, if not spectacular, careers in Green Bay, but both of them are getting a little long in the tooth in their football careers and it appears that their productivity is in steep decline. The Packers’ guards and centers are somewhat interchangeable with none of the current starters being particularly talented. The Pack needs an infusion of new blood with this group with an emphasis on physicality…. as such is lacking right now.

Along the defensive line, a pedestrian pass rush Sunday led to zero sacks against a rookie quarterback, who may have made mistakes if someone had “brought the heat.” Injuries have hurt this group for sure, but those we have left aren’t getting the job done. Kabeer Gabaja-Biamila is merely a shadow of the fierce pass rusher he once was. Even pro-bowler Aaron Kampman was pretty quiet Sunday. Unfortunately the d-line has not been able to provide a stout run defense either this year. The marked decline in the play of this group from last year is contributing heavily to the Packers’ woes.

What good news came out of this game? Three things: the leadership exhibited by Rodgers playing hurt, the emergence of back-up tight end Tory Humphrey, and the aggressive play exhibited by cornerback Tramon Williams.

The schedule gets tougher now with three of the next four games on the road. Next week the Packers travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks, who are having a horrible season and got clobbered by the Giants last week. If the Packers are going to have a winning season this year, they will need to right the ship next week and take a win out of Seattle.



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