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Inbox: If … then this game takes on greater significance

It’s the hand they’ve been dealt

RB AJ Dillon
RB AJ Dillon

Andrew from Saddle Brook, NJ

Keys to victory: Run the ball effectively, check. Control the time of possession, check. Win the turnover battle, check. Result: Another loss.

That says a lot about Buffalo. The Bills can give away checkmarks because they've got command. They never relinquished that.

Anthony from Auburn, WA

The running game really came to life. The offensive line created some nice seams for Aaron Jones in particular and he made the most of his opportunities. Was this more of a schematic success, personnel package, or a combination of both?

I chalk it up to execution.

Mark from Eureka, IL

Did the Bills put it on cruise control the second half, or did the Packers start to truly put it together?

Some of both, I think. I do like the fight in this team. They battle no matter what and when, which is going to turn this around at some point. As I said last week, the question isn't if they'll turn it around, it's whether it'll be in time to still make something of the season.

Jesse from Las Vegas, NV

And the hits just keep on coming.

Yeah, what else can you say? Elgton Jenkins gets "foot" added to the injury report Friday and has to miss the game. Christian Watson is lost on the first series with his third different injury (knee, hamstring, concussion) in the last three months. Now De'Vondre Campbell is down, too, a guy who never left the field last year except for one game. Even though it's a strange comparison, I said to Wes early in the game this reminds me of '13, the one year the Packers' backup QB situation was a total mess, so of course Rodgers sustained his first major injury as a starter. This is the year of a huge transition on offense, so of course there's been no continuity on the offensive line nor reliable availability at receiver. It's the hand they've been dealt, and they haven't played well enough for the football gods to feel like slipping them any better cards.

Vince from Seattle, WA

II, I need some help. I thought I would recognize pass interference if I saw it. I always assumed that if a defender put his hands on the receiver and the receiver pushed those hands away, it would just be considered hand fighting – even if the defender fell down. What did I miss?

I've decided the only way to not go insane watching games in this league is to expect the officiating to be arbitrary, capricious and inconsistent. Then it'll never disappoint or be difficult to explain.

Dave from Grayslake, IL

How come no flag on the helmet-to-helmet hit on Watson? It was in open space.

Because it would make too much sense for the safety rules to be reviewable. The league would rather miss calls it pretends to care about than have the games move along too slowly. But it'll be sure to emphasize that a receiver stumbling down whose lowered helmet gets grazed incidentally deserves an illegal hands to the face penalty for an automatic first down.

Daryl from Helena, MT

It has been many games since the Packers have won the second half. Isn't that progress?

Not when you're down 24-7 at halftime, and you still come up short in the clutch moments – fourth-and-1, missed field goal. Only the clock prevented Buffalo from getting a fourth straight TD before intermission. The defense has got to stop the bad stretches from lasting so long.

Lou from Surrey, Canada

In my opinion, Darnell Savage, Eric Stokes, and Quay Walker have struggled to the point of hurting the team's chances of winning. Sometimes it appears to be some organizational pressures to play them early given their draft position. What's your opinion on that?

It's not about their draft position. If they weren't performing up to par in practice, they wouldn't be playing. That said, Savage's tackling wasn't good enough on a couple of explosive plays, Stokes was briefly pulled in favor of Keisean Nixon, and Walker was coming off the best game of his rookie season last week but then made a highly regrettable and costly mistake. Folks get tired of hearing about playing to a certain "standard," but everybody has suffered letdowns at various times, which prevents the whole unit from reaching its standard often enough.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

Was the WiFi that bad that you had to leave the live blog that early? Things might have gotten interesting if Coco had put that last snap on target. Seriously, I thought the Packers performed better this week, but they're going to have to improve more to beat a team that's really contending like the Bills.

Very true, and the Cowboys, Titans, Eagles, Dolphins and Vikings all remain on the schedule. If the game had come down to the onside kick, I would've felt badly about leaving the live blog early. But part of the impetus was remembering the difficulty I had finding the postgame interview area the last time I was at that stadium, eight years ago. I almost got lost, because we have to leave the press box, then go outside to fight our way amongst exiting fans to find the right access door back into the building. The WiFi there is as helpful as the setup. So I focused on starting the postgame bulletin story, and Wes made sure I found my way safely this time.

Tom from Saugus, CA

On the plus side, after a forgettable first half the defense stepped up and only allowed three points in the second half to keep us in the game despite some losses due to injury and disqualification. The offense was also able to make some big plays to keep us close. Could this be the turning point of our season?

Only if the Packers keep running the ball like this and can beat Detroit and Dallas the next two weeks to have a chance to get above .500 heading into the Thursday night game and mini-bye. If the positives from this performance help them get there, then this game takes on greater significance.

Greg from Danbury, CT

When's the last time Aaron Rodgers lost four consecutive games? It feels like terra incognito.

2016, then he won eight in a row.

Aaron from Phoenix, AZ

My first wish was a big, season-turning, upset win. I'll take my backup wish, though. Our guys didn't pack it in. The D made plays in the second half, the O found some explosive plays from young guys like Samori and Amari (got a nice ring to it), Doubs played well in a featured role, and Jones was his usual explosive self. There's potential there to take into the second half of the season. Just beat the Lions and take it from there!

Jones continues to prove how special a player he is, and Romeo Doubs was making catches like the ones we saw him make every day in training camp. Samori Toure showed a knack for getting open, Amari made a contested grab. I know the offensive line had one substitute starting at a new position again, but that group settling in is going to be the key to the whole thing on that side of the ball.

Mark from Sturgeon Bay, WI

I'd like to take Roger from Roseville, MN, comment on challenges one step further. I think as long as a challenge is upheld (call is overturned) a coach should have unlimited challenges. Why restrict them when the officials were wrong? Say two failed challenges a game and you're done. As long as you are right and officials were wrong, don't penalize the team.

I've been a proponent of a two-strikes-and-yer-out system for a long, long time. But – spoiler alert – nobody has listened.

Mark from Westminster, CO

I'm so glad to see former Packer Jamaal Williams doing well in Detroit. Eight TDs in seven games. That's crazy good.

The Lions are doing a lot of things right, and Williams is a big part of that, except they're not winning.

Mark from Big Bear City, CA

OK Mike, so I checked out the longest home game winning streak against one team, Detroit Lions versus Washington Redskins (at the time) 21 straight road game losses, this over a 74-year period. The others were only 10 years or less. So we have that and going for us.

And the one time in the Super Bowl era the Lions advanced to the NFC title game, in 1991, they had to play it at Washington.

Tony from San Juan Capistrano, CA

II, I saw some good things this evening but we just didn't have enough to get a W. Regarding our insistence on going for it on fourth down even though our success rate is so low, why do we keep doing that? Way more often than not we just hand half the field over to our opponent and end up digging a bigger hole to try to climb out of. Statement or no statement, maybe we should play the percentages a little more.

I think going for it on fourth-and-3 is the better percentage call than a 56-yard field goal. You're not going to punt from the Buffalo 38-yard line. Fourth-and-1 down three scores early in the fourth quarter? Going for it makes sense there, too. If it's fourth-and-5, I probably take the field goal and make it a two-score game. But fourth-and-1? I get the decisions.

Chad from Germantown Hills, IL

I get the don't expose your best corner to KR/PR but at the same time arguably the best corner ever did both most of his career so why not? Prime Time just different? Different time?

Yes and yes.

Johnny from Fort Myers, FL

Aaron Jones' nearly 150 yards rushing. Toure's first TD, and an otherworldly TD grab by Doubs that Cris Collinsworth couldn't stop praising. Two picks by Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas. All that went to waste. What a damned shame! Now what?

Make sure it was a waste for only one night, not for the next two months.

Cary from Sioux Falls, SD

Hi Mike, here's an interesting factoid: the Giants-Seahawks game was the ONLY game this weekend played between teams which were above .500. Parity?

And I believe there are only two next week – Bills at Jets and Titans at Chiefs.

Tom from Highland Village, TX

No question, I'd only like to thank you both for all you produce, especially the written content. I don't think I've missed an Inbox since January of '15. I've become very addicted to the live blog. So, I want you to know how much I appreciate all your hard work, patience, and good humor, especially on the days your job is a grind.

Appreciate that, and everyone's readership/viewership. It's been a tough row to hoe in so many ways but we're still here. Fourth road trip in five weeks coming up, and we'll keep plowing ahead.

Samuel from Mora, MN

Hi Wes/Mike, coming into this game, I asked the Packers to make me believe again. They did that tonight. There are some who say there are no moral victories in losing. I have to say, I disagree, because, for the first time this season I saw improvements in a variety of aspects. This is a long season, and we aren't done yet.

Happy Halloween.

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