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Tough times in Titletown (11/20/2013)
By Dave DeLano

The Green Bay Packers lost their third contest in a row Sunday as they fell to the New York Giants by a score of 27 – 13. The loss dropped the 5 – 5 Packers into third place in the NFC North, one full game behind both Detroit and Chicago.

Since the loss of Aaron Rodgers two weeks ago, the Packers seem to have lost a good chunk of their swagger and that was evident against the Giants. The game started for the Packers with penalties, mistakes, poorly-executed blocking and poor punt coverage. The Packers were held to a whopping 13 total yards of offense in the first quarter, and the tone was set for the balance of the game. A long field goal by Mason Crosby at the end of the half brought the game to a manageable level as the Packers only trailed 10 – 6.

But as the game continued it became increasingly obvious that it was the Giants who were winning the battles on both sides of the line of scrimmage. On offense our blockers didn’t get their job done. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith was awful and right tackle Marshall Newhouse, who was subbing for the injured Don Barclay, was even worse. On defense, too often our linemen were getting pushed backwards. The Giants’ quarterback exploited the middle of the field with his passes as the Green Bay safeties seemed too often slow to react. Morgan Burnett had another sub-par game and M.D. Jennings needs to be replaced.

Third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien played pretty well, in spite of three interceptions, including a very costly pick six he tossed up in the fourth quarter. Tolzien seems to have a pretty strong arm and was able to pass for over 300 yards in this game, including several nicely thrown deep balls. The pick six, though, was a game changer. That type of throw is the one Aaron Rodgers never makes.

The situation with any team being forced to play their third-string quarterback is bleak. In order to win NFL games without a big-time quarterback, someone needs to step up his play a couple notches and become a difference maker. Right now the Packers do not have difference makers. The Packers probably have a couple more weeks before Rodgers returns and it will be interesting to see if someone is going to be a playmaker this season before it becomes too late.

An opportunity is on the horizon as the beleaguered Minnesota Vikings stumble into Green Bay next week. The Vikings have only won two games this year and are struggling with their own quarterback problems and have other issues as well.

If Tolzien and the Packers can regroup next week and get a win at home they still might have a chance to get into the 2013 playoffs. The way the schedule breaks out, it would appear that the Packers will need to win 10 games this year, which means they will need to win five of their last six games. Their opponents over the next six weeks makes that a possibility, but that means Tolzien must win a game or two before Rodgers returns. The bottom line is that the Packers need to go out and win a game without # 12 at the controls. A win against the Vikes next week is imperative. 


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