Cheeseheads witnessed an ugly affair Sunday afternoon as the mistake-prone Cincinnati Bengals beat up the Packers by a score of 31 – 24. Hard to figure why Coach Mike McCarthy could not fire up the Packers to perform up to expectations against the Bengals, but the Pack came out flat, did not execute well in all three phases of the game and committed far too many boneheaded penalties.
Two dropped passes on the Packers’ opening drive set the tone for the game. But it was a carnival of errors. Both teams committed numerous penalties, a total of 17 in the first half. The Packers’ punt coverage team was horrible. Jarrett Bush, a much maligned penalty-prone special teams “gunner” was flagged twice for “jumping the snap” prompting McCarthy to pull him out of the game after the second miscue. On the positive side, Charles Woodson intercepted two Bengal passes in the first half and ran one of them back for a touchdown.
The loss was reminiscent of most of the games of 2008 when the Packers could not stop their opponents’ running game while the Packers were unable to generate any semblance of same. Central to the Packers’ offensive problems was the incompetent play of the offensive line. Last week’s goat was right tackle Allen Barbre; this week’s goats were the Packers’ left tackles, Chad Clifton, until he got hurt, and then Daryn Colledge, who replaced him. The Bengals’ right defensive end, Antwan Odom, ending up punishing Aaron Rodgers with five sacks on the day, the most the Packers have allowed one player in a game in their 90-year franchise history! Unless this woeful performance gets cleaned up soon, Rodgers’ health, and thus the Packers’ season, is in serious jeopardy.
With the exception of Woodson, who had a phenomenal game, the Packer defense took the day off. Bengals’ running back Cedric Benson was able to rack up 141 yards on the ground against a Packer defense that had supposedly been re-tooled this year to stop the run. Hard to figure. B. J Raji was inactive for the second straight game. Cheeseheads can hope that his presence in the weeks to come will bolster a physically manhandled defensive group.
I wish I had a similarly simple optimistic thought for the Packers’ offensive line, but it appears that Ted Thompson has inadequately provided sufficient talent within this group and the proof of that is the lack of professionalism we have seen in week one and now week two. Clifton’s career has been in decline for some time now and the rest in the group are mid-to-low-round draft picks that have yet to prove their mettle in the NFL.
Having said all that, we are 1- 1 and have a decent chance to win on the road next week against the Saint Louis Rams, who have at least as many problems as the Packers. The Rams do, however, have a big strong running back (Steven Jackson) who you can bet will get the call next week. Let’s hope Raji is ready to go and he is as good as I think he is to spark the defense back to competence level.