GREEN BAY—A mere seven days ago, the Packers were 5-2 and their fans were dreaming of the Packers running the table and clinching homefield advantage for the playoffs. That was seven days ago.
On this day a week ago, the Packers were No. 4 in the league against the run, No. 3 in rushing, No. 5 in passing, No. 2 in overall offense and their arrow was pointing so directly north that media across the country were singing the Packers' praises. The Packers were peaking for the playoffs.
That was seven days ago. Much has changed.
Since then, the Packers have lost their starting quarterback and the man around whom the team is built, two games at Lambeau Field, the NFC North lead and their veteran backup quarterback. No one is singing the Packers' praises now. In fact, just about everyone will paint a dark future for Mike McCarthy's team this week.
The plot thickens.
"I'm disappointed. We have a recurring situation," McCarthy told reporters, catching himself before letting it all out.
He didn't have to let it all out. You'd have to be seriously football-challenged not to know what was bothering the coach.
McCarthy is a man of grit, and he was nearing the point of gritting his teeth following his team's 27-13 loss to the Eagles on Sunday. He was doing a good job of not baring his teeth, but the edge in his voice couldn't be disguised. The coach was hot. That's the good news.
It goes like this: The Bears killed 8:58 of the final 9:48 of last Monday's game, to preserve a 27-20 win. On Sunday, the Eagles killed the remaining 9:32 of the game clock, as LeSean McCoy gouged out 41 of his 155 yards rushing.
No way! That's not the soul of Packers football. That's not the personality of its hard-edged coach. That's got to stop.
All around the league this week, the media pundits, and that includes the "NFL Network" jockocracy, will point to the Packers' ailing quarterback situation. They'll say the Packers can't win without Aaron Rodgers. They'll say the Packers weren't proactive enough at addressing the backup quarterback situation. They'll talk about Matt Flynn and any other Flynn that might ride in to save the day.
They won't talk about the 375 yards rushing the Packers allowed in six days. They won't talk about it because that's too Neanderthalish of a contemporary game that's built on pitch and catch, and they will have missed the target because it's all those rushing yards that have cost the Packers consecutive losses at home.
"Two weeks in a row you have a guy take all the reps. I thought Scott Tolzien did a helluva job. He was seamless in the huddle. I thought his game management was outstanding," McCarthy said.
You want the truth? OK, here's the truth: Tolzien played well enough for the Packers to win this game. The truth is that teams seldom win games when they allow 204 yards rushing.
McCoy strengthened his NFL rushing lead. He blew through holes up the middle. He bounced to the outside, once seemingly gaining 30 yards against air. He might not be Adrian Peterson, but his impact on Sunday's game is undeniable.
"I don't buy into the notion that you have to rally around the quarterback," McCarthy said, coming close to baring his teeth. "It was important for every guy to do their job today. Everybody just needs to do their job and we would win this game. I felt that in my heart."
They needed to stop the run. It started with something as simple and old-fashioned as that, and it ended with 9:32 being killed from the clock.
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