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Disappointment at its peak as another game gets away from Packers

Once again, teams fails to build on anything good that happens

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY – Defense gets a huge fourth-down stop near the goal line in a one-point game. Offense goes three-and-out.

Offense gets a touchdown and two-point conversion to pull within three points late in the third quarter. Defense gives up a 63-yard TD drive in five plays.

Defense gets an interception in the fourth quarter in a 10-point game. Offense goes three-and-out.

Special teams provides a 24-yard punt return across midfield with the deficit still just 10. Offense goes four-and-out.

That was the story of Thursday night's 27-17 loss to the Titans at Lambeau Field, and it has been pretty much the story of a 4-7 season.

When one phase of the Packers' game makes something happen, another phase experiences a letdown. Any surge is fleeting. Momentum temporary at best.

The moniker "complementary football" gets tossed around a lot, but the Packers can't get it to stick.

The Packers' defense did what it has done most of the year. It had an awful stretch of possessions – in this case three straight worth 20 Tennessee points – making its good moments not enough good.

The offense, meanwhile, had even more opportunities than it's had in several losses – not just possessions or chances, but true missed opportunities, especially down the stretch.

Sammy Watkins and Allen Lazard were wide open over the middle on back-to-back third downs in the fourth quarter, but Aaron Rodgers' throws were off target.

Rodgers refuses to make any excuses about his injured thumb, but he's said it hasn't really improved since the original injury in London six weeks ago, and TV cameras catch him shaking his throwing hand here and there.

"I've got to throw the ball better than I did tonight," he said.

He also was flagged for a costly intentional grounding near Green Bay's own goal line in the second quarter, helping give Tennessee great field position to score before halftime. And he took a sack in the fourth quarter after holding the ball for several seconds but never escaping the pocket.

The good from the offensive side? Randall Cobb returned from injury and led the team with six catches for 73 yards. Rookie receiver Christian Watson built on his three-TD performance in last Sunday's victory with two more scores.

Rodgers lauded the youngster's confidence and practice work of late, stating the obvious that the ball needs to find him more.

But the Packers couldn't run the ball (19 rushes, 56 yards) against the Titans' stout front, a point hammered home when a fourth-and-1 with just over two minutes to go went nowhere. And a one-dimensional attack wasn't going to work, no matter how many shots they got.

A TV camera caught Rodgers staring off into space as the game wound down, and he said he was just lamenting "what could've been" – a potential two-game winning streak with a weekend off and a chance to get back to .500 next week.

Now the Packers can't even get to .500 before their late bye, and the upcoming road trip to face the NFC's top team, 8-1 Philadelphia, looks a lot different than it would've if this team were building anything.

Instead, all that was left was a plea to the team's leadership to find a way to make something of these last six games.

"It's got to be multiple guys," Rodgers said. "It can't just be one person, otherwise the voice kind of gets drowned out by the white noise of the standard-ness. So it's got to be multiple guys saying the same things. It's a call to all the leaders on the football team, not just the six selected captains.

"But we've got to play up to our potential. … Obviously I've got to play up to my potential. Tonight wasn't it."

Nope. Just more of the same frustrations and regrets from the past two months. It took six weeks to find a way to win and just four days to lose the feeling again.


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