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It's all part of life in the NFL

Posted Dec 18, 2017

The Packers gave it everything they had


Zahir from London, UK

I guess that's why we love the game. It's always those fine margins that can go either way.

The Packers easily could have lost either of the last two games and made Sunday irrelevant. They could have lost to Cincinnati, won in Pittsburgh, and lost in Dallas. It’s all part of life in the NFL.

Jason from Lake View, NY

Well, I guess Aaron Rodgers is human after all.

It’s not an easy game to play, and facing a legitimate Super Bowl contender with a top-flight defense after a two-month layoff, on the road, was as tough an assignment as anyone could take on. To lose the turnover battle so badly and still have a chance at the end was a miracle in itself. The Packers gave it everything they had, but the Panthers are as good as anybody in what will be a balanced and entertaining NFC playoff field.

Tom from Fairfield, CT

When the Packers got the onside kick I said to myself, "Here we go, I can't believe it, a third overtime game in a row." How did the Packers keep it so close in points, yardage, first downs, etc., with four turnovers?

They just kept fighting. I know there’s no joy in Mudville today, but this Packers team never quit. The football gods are only going to let you recover an onside kick once every handful of years. It’s too bad the Packers couldn’t cash theirs in.

Ron from Mesquite, NV

I'm sure you're getting plenty of comments on the hit to Adams. Let me just add that if the league truly wants to protect players, and if they truly want to convey that message to the teams, players, and fans, they MUST start implementing immediate ejections from the game as well as further suspensions for repeat offenders. It's the only way to make it serious enough for players to think about their actions on the field. Plus, it's only fair that if you knock a player out of a game with an illegal hit, you should have to leave the game as well.

I’m not crazy about all the eye-for-an-eye stuff, but we’re going to see an emphasis next season on immediate ejections for egregious hits, and I think that’s going to come with in-game replay review to justify the ejection. It’s what I’ve been saying all along (my face keeps getting bluer and bluer) about the player-safety rules being subject to replay. In this case, Davis is a repeat offender and will almost certainly get suspended, but he got to finish Sunday’s game, and that isn’t right.

Matt from Hartford, WI

To me it was incomplete. He had the ball for 1.5 steps, as he made his second step the ball was out. In my mind, that is incomplete.

McCarthy and many Packers fans would agree with you. I was pretty sure the video wasn’t conclusive enough to overturn and keep that ball in Green Bay’s possession, but I didn’t think Carolina’s TD pass in the back of the end zone was conclusive enough to overturn, either. I need to just post my “capricious nature of NFL outcomes” lecture in perpetuity for everyone to read, every day.

Mike from Park Ridge, NJ

Great game, enjoyed the suspense. Each of the receivers on the three interceptions was behind the coverage men. Catching a break on one or more of those and it is a different story.

Rodgers said he was just trying to throw it away on the first one and he ran into his lineman. The others are plays we’re used to seeing him make, time and again. He makes the game look so easy sometimes, and when it isn’t so easy, it reminds us just how good he is when he’s at the top of his game.

Marcus from Chicago, IL

Regarding the underthrows, is there any concern Rodgers has, in baseball terms, "lost a tick" after the injury and subsequent surgery? Or is it more timing, trust, feel, etc.?

He said his arm felt fine, and as in tune with everything as Rodgers is, I think he would know if something were amiss. I would attribute the underthrows to the layoff.

Chris from Kenosha, WI

Why does the team continually go away from the run game when they were get big gains from Jones? Is it Rodgers changing the plays or just play-calling to pass?

The two big runs Jones broke off in the first half were on checks at the line. Rodgers said after the game the fronts the Panthers adjusted to in the second half dictated pass on the run-pass option calls.

Sean from Charlotte, NC

Hey guys, no question, just a comment. I was in the city on Saturday and there were Packers fans everywhere. For every 10 Packers fans I saw one Panthers fan. I couldn't believe how we took over Charlotte.

The turnout at the pep rally on Saturday night was awesome. I’m convinced we could announce we’re having a pep rally in May in Albuquerque and Packers fans would fill the place.

Eric from Stramproy, Netherlands

Did you see the guy with the Vince Lombardi tattoo in his arm at the pep rally? What a fan, he even looked like Lombardi!

At times loyalty knows no bounds.

Jim from Oakland, CA

As an older fan who has followed pro football since the early ’60s, I am bothered by the "bigger-faster-stronger" mantra thrown around, mostly by younger fans. It creates a disrespect for the older players and the incorrect assumption that athletes are innately better now. That is hardly the case. The only difference is in nutrition, training – and drugs. If the older guys had all the advantages of modern science, they would be exactly the same as the 21st century guys. No better, no worse. Rule changes and specialization are also responsible for skewing statistics to make modern players appear superior. Let's respect the game in earlier years and stop idealizing the modern era!

No disrespect whatsoever intended. The question I answered was about the propensity for injuries, and while Jerry Kramer played at around 240-250 pounds, Jahri Evans is 318. Whoever might have been 300 pounds back then wasn’t playing football because they couldn’t move like 300-pounders now. Your point about modern science is well-taken, but there’s no denying the game is played by different athletes.

Bones from Ripon, WI

In some sports an athlete can have an unorthodox style and still be very effective and even be a superstar but in football and especially at the position of quarterback it’s not generally the case. Phillip Rivers has had himself a pretty darn good career for a quarterback that throws the ball side arm.

Russell Wilson’s high-ball throwing style has always struck me as different as well. There are always outliers who can break the mold. Unfortunately for the Chargers, I think Saturday night’s game in Kansas City was a referendum on their status as a legitimate AFC contender, and it was soundly defeated.

Larry from Jensen Beach, FL

Speaking of keeping things light, has anyone heard why Aaron sniffs something from a broken capsule before each game? Even when he wasn’t going to play? If we tried it would it help us to ask better questions?

Indubitably.

Josh from Waukesha, WI

With Ryan Longwell making it into the Packers Hall of Fame, how likely do you think Mason Crosby's enshrinement will be?

It’s a lock.

Gregg from Springfield, IL

Mike, love the column. We haven't had a top-10 defense since 2010. Seven years with the same defensive coach and GM using the same schemes and picking defense with the first couple picks. It's not working. When is it time to make a change?

Everyone is calling for change on defense. I understand the frustration. Injuries have decimated that side of the ball in at least three of the seasons since the Super Bowl. The defense was good enough three years ago until the best player had to leave the field. The opening-drive scores have piled up this year at an alarming rate. Four offside penalties in one game is ridiculous. Letting a Pro Bowl tight end run free down the middle of the field, when there was an empty backfield with no play-action to freeze anyone on the second level, is inexcusable. I’m just rattling off a bunch of things that are part of the reality here. Everyone wants to place blame. All I know is there’s plenty to go around. I’m not in a position to say what should or shouldn’t happen. There’s way more to this than any of us understand, and the only one whose opinion matters is McCarthy.

Curt from York, PA

Perhaps the worst part of this season starts now when all the loony fans start clamoring for TT and/or MM and/or DC to be fired. Or that we blow up the roster and the salary cap and sign all kinds of free agents. This season did not meet expectations due to one thing – we lost our starting QB for too many games. I predict that the Eagles and the Vikings will not get to the SB for the same reason, in spite of how well the Vikings backup QB has been playing.

The NFC playoffs could end up with three QBs who have never won a playoff game, and three QBs who have all been to a Super Bowl. Gambling is illegal at Bushwood, but my money will be on one from the latter trio.

Greg from Hamilton, Ontario

Aaron Rodgers says he wants to play Saturday night. If you're MM do you start or sit him?

Only those involved know how close a call it was to give medical clearance. If it was truly a close call, I’d let the healing continue without the risk.

Matt from Houston, TX

Insiders, not a question but an observation. After this week's disappointment and all the pending ridiculousness, I watched the Pats-Steelers game and saw Ricky Jean Francois on the Pats. Reminded me of his locker room interview coming back to the Pack after being cut. These guys are giving it their all every play because they never know who's watching. You think players will tank? Absolutely not.

It’s professional football. The operative word is professional. I caught the end of Pats-Steelers on the plane ride home. What a finish. Another crazy replay reversal involving the catch rule. Regardless, amazing game. How is that not a preview of the AFC title game? That was just Round 1, right?

Joe from Asbury, IA

Next year will be a good year to start another eight straight years in the playoffs.

Rodgers might play all eight, too. The league record is nine. Let’s not forget what was accomplished here. The Packers will be back.

Doug from Union Grove, WI

Can’t fault the effort, but now what?

We see if the Packers want to proceed with Rodgers or finish out the season with Hundley, and then we move on to what should be a busy offseason with important players reaching free agency and what could be as many as 11 draft picks.

Steve from St. Charles, MO

It ruined my whole day. Is there any hope left for the playoffs this season?

Not much. The Packers must win out, the Seahawks and Cowboys each need to lose one more, and the Falcons need to lose out. Green Bay will be officially eliminated if Atlanta wins tonight. It was a tough loss, but it didn’t ruin my whole day. Wes and his wife had their baby, and when he texted me a picture of the little lad during the fourth quarter, it was refreshing to be reminded what really matters in life. I’ve never been so happy to take on a game-day workload solo. Welcome Baby Hod.

Adam from Cleveland, OH

On the tiny chance the Falcons lose out and the Seahawks and Cowboys drop at least one more game each, how would a potential tiebreaker with the Lions work if the Packers win out? Head-to-head would be split and division records would be equal.

So would conference record and common games, I believe, with both at 9-7, so it would go all the way to strength of victory. The Packers would have the edge, with their wins over Seattle and Dallas trumping Detroit’s over Arizona and the Giants. I only took the time to figure it out because this stuff fascinates me in a weird way.

Dave from Swisher, IA

Spoff, great season from you and Wes. Thanks. At least we can look forward to the Festivus, you know, for the rest of us.

Maybe I can conquer Wes in the feats of strength while he’s sleep-deprived. We’ll still be here, all day, every day, even though it won’t be the usual January in Green Bay. But Christmas is right around the corner, and my son is home from his first semester of college. Plenty of reasons to smile.


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