Packers-Panthers: Green Bay Snatches Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

Tim SeemanAnalyst INovember 30, 2008

The Green Bay Packers didn't simply outplay the Carolina Panthers for 28 of 30 second-half minutes on Sunday.  They dominated.

After taking a 21-10 deficit into halftime, the Packers took the ball to start the second half and kicked a field goal.

Green Bay forced a Panther punt on Carolina's ensuing possession, and Aaron Rodgers started to roll.

He drove his team to touchdowns on consecutive drives, both of which lasted longer than four minutes.  A third consecutive Packer drive, which took up nine minutes of the final quarter, ended with a 19-yard field goal, meaning the line of scrimmage was the two-yard line.

After this, Green Bay was apparently in the catbird seat.  Carolina had one time out remaining with 1:57 left on the clock.  Here's all the Packers had to do in order to win the game:

  • Kick the kickoff deep.
  • Play disciplined kick coverage and make the tackle before the returner gets to the 30.  If you get held, make sure the officials see it.
  • Make Jake Delhomme throw short passes, keep the ball handlers in bounds to drain the clock, and don't allow a 70-yard touchdown drive in under two minutes.

It's not that hard, right?

Obviously, it is for the Packers.  Missed holding calls aside, the Panthers returned the ball to the 45-yard line, meaning Carolina only needed 30 yards to be in field-goal range.

This ended up not mattering after a 54-yard pass to Steve Smith put Carolina on the 1-yard line, where DeAngelo Williams ran in his fourth touchdown from that distance on the afternoon.

The Packers had a chance to go on a long drive in a short period of time for a go-ahead touchdown, but everyone watching knew that the game was unsalvageable at that point. 

Aaron Rodgers showed something else he learned from Brett Favre, throwing interceptions during the team's last-gasp effort, and threw a ball right to Jon Beason to seal the game.

Green Bay still has playoff life, but the Packers must win out and get a lot of help from the Vikings and Bears

If all three teams finish at 9-7, the Packers will hold the tiebreakers.  Certainly, the remaining four games are all winnable for Green Bay (vs. Houston, @ Jacksonville, @ Chicago, vs. Detroit).

In order to win these games, though, the defense and special teams will have to match the effort of the offense.  Through 12 games this season, it is hard to tell whether they will be able to do so.