Game Review: Home Struggles Continue Vs. Jets

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The New York Jets lived up to their billing as an up-and-coming team on Sunday at Lambeau Field while the Packers inexplicably continued to struggle on their home turf.

The Jets used a flawless first half to take an overwhelming 31-point lead and went on to win 38-10, keeping them in the thick of the AFC playoff chase at 7-5. Meanwhile the Packers lost their third straight game to drop to 4-8, including an unsightly 1-5 mark at Lambeau.

Sunday's performance for the Packers came on the heels of a 35-0 shutout loss at home two weeks ago to the New England Patriots, and Green Bay has now won just four of its last 16 home games, dating back to December of 2004.

After the game, several players said if they knew the reason for the struggles at home, they would have fixed it long ago.

"I have no idea," center Scott Wells said. "It's unacceptable. Definitely coming into this year we had a goal to turn things around here at home because we weren't very successful last year, either.

"Anytime you lose at home, it's tough, and to lose by that much is very tough. We've got to find a way to correct the mistakes and do it fast."

The Jets were the ones playing fast on Sunday, employing a no-huddle offense to score on five straight possessions in the first half for a 31-0 lead.

After settling for a field goal on its opening possession, New York scored touchdowns on four consecutive drives of 51, 83, 70 and 77 yards. The Jets piled up 340 yards of offense, 22 first downs, and went 6-for-7 on third downs.

"They just caught a rhythm, and they just kept going and we couldn't do anything to stop it," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "They had everything going, everything they were calling was working."

Quarterback Chad Pennington finished the half 22-of-29 for 241 yards and two scores for a sparkling 122.9 rating. He completed passes to eight different receivers and had 11 completions of 11 yards or longer. Meanwhile running back Cedric Houston added 14 rushes for 55 yards and the other two touchdowns, concluding the first half with a 1-yard plunge with 9 seconds left to make it 31-0.

"We looked like we were playing in mud," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said of his defense. "Chad Pennington was just out there playing pitch and catch with his receivers."

On offense, the Packers mustered just 100 yards and six first downs in the first half. Quarterback Brett Favre fumbled once and was intercepted once, with both turnovers leading to Jets touchdowns.

The offense's only drive of any substance included two rushes for 46 yards by running back Ahman Green, but kicker Dave Rayner missed a 40-yard field goal try wide right that at the time would have made the score 17-3.

In stark contrast to Pennington, Favre was just 6-for-11 for 48 yards and a 27.8 rating in the first half.

"Either we're not executing the scheme very well, or we're not playing up to our abilities individually, or we're just not very good," Favre said. "One of the three. It might be a combination, I don't know."

{sportsad300}The Packers made things interesting in the third quarter, driving for a field goal to open the second half.

After an interception by Charles Woodson led to a 54-yard drive that stalled on fourth down from the New York 33, Patrick Dendy snagged another interception that set up a 20-yard TD pass from Favre to Donald Driver to make it 31-10.

The Packers then recovered an onside kick, firing up the 70,527 chilled fans, but subsequently went three-and-out and lost the momentum.

"I felt like it was turning, it was just a matter of us making plays," tight end Bubba Franks said. "But for some reason, we didn't make enough on offense.

"We should be scoring a lot more points than this, and over the last three, almost four weeks, we haven't been getting in the end zone as much as we need to. It's not working right now."

The Jets responded with an 81-yard TD drive, capped by Leon Washington's 20-yard run, to make it 38-10.

The Packers had one final potential scoring drive reach the New York 11, but Favre's fourth-down pass to Driver in the end zone sailed high.

By game's end, Favre was 24-of-47 for 214 yards and Green topped the century mark with 102 yards on 14 rushes, but Pennington (25-of-35, 263 yards), Houston (22 carries, 105 yards) and receiver Jerricho Cotchery (nine catches, 99 yards) all outshined the home team.

"Definitely we're disappointed," middle linebacker Nick Barnett said. "But we can't live in the past and start getting down on ourselves and totally just throw everything away. We have to go play. We still have fans, we have pride to play for, we have everything to play for."

The three straight losses have put a winning season out of reach, and a .500 record is now the goal with four games to go. That's a much lower standard than what this team was shooting for after climbing to 4-5 following a big road win at Minnesota, but now the only priority is to make sure the current bad stretch and the season's home stretch aren't one and the same.

"We definitely don't want a tailspin to end the season like this," Pickett said. "We're trying to build up something, and it seemed like we took a couple steps back this week. We have to win and start building on something."

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