Packers (13) Struggle Offensively on the Road in Buffalo (21)
BUFFALO, NY – At 10-3, and winners of their last five, the Green Bay Packers were rolling heading into a hostile Buffalo Bills stadium on Sunday. They were treated by their hosts like the rest of the NFC North: with a loss. Aaron Rodgers looked rattled, the receivers dropped passes, and the special teams looked awful as the Packers fell (and possibly lost their shot at home-field advantage) to the Bills 21-13.
The game started off well for the Packers, as they took a 3-0 lead ten minutes into the ballgame, but a punt return by Marcus Thigpen quickly put the Bills on top two minutes later. Rodgers would lead the team to their only touchdown drive of the day on the next drive on a seven-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Eddie Lacy diving into the end zone to put the Pack up 10-7. Thew Packers’ defense was pretty stout for most of the day, allowing only 253 yards of total offense, and were able to keep the Bills’ offense out of the end zone all day long, as the Bills would score twelve straight points going into the fourth quarter, all on field goals. The Packers’ offense struggled and couldn’t put the ball in. On the lone opportunity for the Packers to make a big play, Jordy Nelson dropped a wide-open 90+ yard touchdown pass that most Packers fans haven’t seen from Mr. Nelson all season.
As the game came down to the end, the Packers defense, down 19-13, made a key stop and got the ball back to the offense with 2:00 left to go in the ballgame. It only delayed the inevitable though, as defensive end Mario Williams was able to get a hand on Aaron Rodgers and forced a fumble. The ball fell back into the end zone and was picked up by Eddie Lacy who ran it out of the end zone (barely). The problem for Green Bay was that within the last two minutes of the game, if a player fumbles the ball and doesn’t recover it himself, the ball is downed where the other player picked it up. So even though Lacy managed to (again, barely) make it out of the end zone, the play was ruled a safety, giving the Bills two points and the ball and a 21-13 lead. The Packers would attempt the onside and fail, falling to the Buffalo Bills by the same score.
For the second week in a row, the Bills held a top-notch quarterback in check. Last week in Denver, Peyton Manning was held to 173 yards and two interceptions with no touchdowns. Well Rodgers didn’t do much better: 17/42 for 185 yards and two interceptions. Eddie Lacy actually was able to carry the ball pretty well, gaining 97 yards on his 15 carries and scoring the Packers only touchdown. Randall Cobb & Jordy Nelson combined for 10+ catches once again, with the former hauling in seven for 96 yards. Defensively, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix led the team with 13 tackles, while Clay Matthews got to Kyle Orton twice.
The Bills offense was equally horrendous, as Kyle Orton threw for just 158 yards, and leading rusher Fred Jackson needed 20 carries to net just 71 yards. The leading receiver for the Bills was Bryce Brown who caught one pass for 40 yards. While the Bills only had the one sack, the Packers’ offensive line took a big hit when Bryan Bulaga left the game with a concussion, and the Bills were able to pressure Rodgers noticeably.
It was an overall bad day for the Packers, who lost the game, then lost the division lead as the rival Lions used another come-from-behind victory to defeat the Minnesota Vikings at home and retake first place in the NFC North. Another bad break for the Packers was that San Fransisco couldn’t pull off the upset in Seattle, pulling the Packers into a tie with the Seahawks who hold the tie-breaker over Green Bay.
The playoff picture is as cloudy as ever, so be sure to keep up with all of your Green Bay Packers football action with us at 98.3 WRUP! Marquette County’s official home for the Packers. The Packers will play next at Tampa Bay on Sunday starting at 1pm. Pregame will begin at 11am. GO PACK GO!
-Carl Leander Johnson