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Critical Mistakes Seal Packers Defeat


Every game is a difficult challenge in the NFL and winning becomes that much harder when you commit five turnovers. Unfortunately the Packers found that out the hard way Sunday in a 28-25 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect to the defeat was the consensus in the locker room that the Packers could have won if it weren't for so many critical mistakes. Whether it was penalties, turnovers, or missed opportunities, things just didn't go the Packers' way Sunday.

Playing in front of 70,437 fans in frigid temperatures, the Packers were flagged 12 times for 101 yards. Despite those errors and the turnovers, the Packers still were in the game until Ryan Longwell's onside kick with less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter was recovered by the Jaguars.

"I think anyone who watched the game knows turnovers cost us the game," Brett Favre said. "I am amazed that we were still in the ballgame. I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. To make that many mistakes and still have a chance to win, I guess there's a lot left out there for us because we easily could have been blown out."

For now, that is the ray of hope the team can take into this Friday's Christmas Eve game against the Minnesota Vikings. Favre said the Packers have to put this one behind them and concentrate on the opportunity at hand.

"For some reason we are in the playoffs," Favre explained. "I don't know if that says a lot about us or the other teams, but it is an opportunity. With the disappointment I feel now, I find it hard to crack a smile and say we are in the playoffs."

Certainly, the Jaguars deserve credit for the victory, but Favre said the Packers didn't play anywhere near the level they expect to.

"It's not so much who we play - it's what we do. It's not what the opposing team does. Yeah, give Jacksonville credit. They made a lot less mistakes than we did and that was the difference. But it's stuff that shouldn't happen from our standpoint.

"You can say it was Jacksonville, you can say it was Philly, you can say was whoever, but it's what we do. If we correct what we do and play up to our standards, I like our chances. But that wasn't the case today."

GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman insisted that the Packers can right the ship if they concentrate on correcting the mental mistakes.

"We made a lot of mistakes tonight, but we've just got to get them cleaned up," Sherman said. "You can't win football games that way."

Sherman was especially disappointed with the lost opportunities against the Jaguars.

"I think when you have opportunities to win a game and you don't - such as Sharper's touchdown, that's a huge play in the game," Sherman said. "When you are down in the red zone on three occasions and you don't take advantage of getting points, we come out of there empty-handed, not only don't we get the touchdown, we don't get the field goal. I think from an offensive standpoint, that is the most frustrating.

"Defensively, hitting two big long runs on us, that was frustrating, as were the penalties. The penalties have been addressed and they (the players) have been scolded during the course of the week on what they can and can't do. That was frustrating to me and disappointing."

The players echoed the sentiments of their leader and admitted that the loss was especially tough to take, considering it was out of character.

"Tell me the last time some team with five turnovers won," guard Mike Wahle said. "You put yourself behind the eight ball. They played hard and well, but five turnovers isn't us. It was just way too many mistakes.

"I can't tell you why the turnovers were happening. Those kill all the guys in here, because they are going to happen, but to have that many under those circumstances is very, very frustrating."

Linemate Mark Tauscher agreed with Wahle, but said he was more disappointed in how the team played in front of the home crowd.

"It's incredibly frustrating," Tauscher said. "To lose at home, especially in December, that's a tough pill to swallow. I don't have an explanation. I don't know why it's happening. We should have taken advantage of it and we're not.

"We continually shot ourselves in the foot. When you turn the ball over five or six times, it's not going to lead to good things. We give them credit - they beat us - but with the turnovers and the way we played, it would have been tough to win."

Favre said after the game that his third quarter interception at the Jaguars one-yard line was especially difficult to accept. The Packers were driving for what would have been the go-ahead score, but Favre underthrew tight end Bubba Franks and Rashean Mathis came away with one of his two thefts on the day.

"I only have to look as far as the mirror," Favre explained. "The interception that I threw on the one-yard line was a bad mistake. Hopefully I never do that again. I haven't done that too many times in my career, but I can't point fingers at anyone. It's stuff that we can correct.

"If you play long enough, things like that will happen to you, but I don't buy that. I have way too much experience to make mistakes like that. I know there were other mistakes in the game that were costly, but I point to me. Of all the ones I've ever thrown, I wish I had that one back."

Although Favre was willing to take the fall for a bad play, Franks stood by his quarterback saying everybody has bad days.

"It happens, you have days like that," Franks said. "All days aren't going to be pretty. We thought we had it. With all the turnovers we still had a chance in the fourth quarter, but we didn't quite get it done."

On the bright side, there were no excuses being made in the locker room. Instead, the team was concentrating on fixing the errors that plagued them Sunday.

"Today, we slipped in so many ways because things we know cannot happen-penalties, turnovers, missed assignments-things we know cannot happen, we let happen today," fullback William Henderson said. "And I am not going to blame it on the cold, preparation, or whatever. We are going to figure out a way to correct the problem."

It sounds like the Packers have already gotten through the first step in getting back on track.

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