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Packer Partisan (11/12/2008)
By Dave DeLano

Beat at the Line of Scrimmage… Again 

The Green Bay Packers lost a second straight heartbreaker as a long-distance field goal attempt by Mason Crosby drifted off to the right in the final seconds allowing the Minnesota Vikings to hold on to a 28 – 27 victory in the Humpty Dump. It was a game in which the same old bugaboos that have haunted the Packers all year long once again prevailed. As a result of too many penalties and horrible line of scrimmage execution, the Packers have fallen to a sub .500 record and it appears that the season is spiraling downhill.

The Packers came out of the gate sluggish and once again the big guys up front on both offense and defense got pushed around mercilessly. Even though the Vikings run a predictable, run-oriented offense, Adrian Peterson ran wild for almost 200 yards and the Packers had no answer. It was a pathetic performance for Cheeseheads to watch. The Vikings don’t have much of an aerial attack and the Packers’ secondary had a field day… picking off three passes including one that was run back for a touchdown by Nick Collins. Had the Vikes elected not to throw the football Sunday, they might have won this game by 30 points.

It is difficult to imagine that the Packers’ offensive line played worse than the Packers’ run defenders…. but they did in this game. Not many expected the Packers to have Ryan Grant running for huge yardage against the stout Viking front, but it was somewhat a surprise that the pass blocking was horrible against the Vikes. Aaron Rodgers was clobbered all afternoon suffering 4 sacks and a dozen knockdowns.

The decline in left tackle Chad Clifton’s play is stunning. Clifton is having a horrible year. He was personally responsible for causing a safety in the first half and later his false start penalty wiped out a touchdown pass to Greg Jennings. Jason Spitz and Daryn Colledge played almost as poorly as Clifton. What a mess the offensive line is right now.

The special teams provided a touchdown on a thrilling punt return by Will Blackmon, but punter Derrick Frost continued his tendency to kick short, line-drive, readily-returnable punts which caused the Pack poor field position most of the afternoon.

With only seven games left to go, the Packers have put themselves in a position where they almost have to win next week against the Chicago Bears to have a chance to win the Divisional title. A very poor performance like this one leaves Cheeseheads wondering if this non-physical, mistake and penalty-prone team can find a way to salvage the 2008 season.

Look for Mike McCarthy to do something different this week. A personnel change or two might be in order. A new punter would be a good start. Maybe Clifton should be benched. Maybe get rookie linebacker Danny Lansanah some snaps to see if he can help stop the run.

As bad as the situation seems right now, a win next week will even the Packers’ record with that of the Bears. The Bears game looms huge in determining the Pack’s 2008 fate.

Talk back! Tell us what you think of this year’s teams. What would you do if you were in charge?

Go to winonapost.com, click on Football Forum to discuss this year’s season.



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