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Inbox: Saved by the bell

Providing that confidence in the first place was the problem

The clock expires as Carolina Panthers QB Bryce Young takes a sn
The clock expires as Carolina Panthers QB Bryce Young takes a sn

Steve from Land O'Lakes, FL

We won!

Sure beats the alternative.

Brian from Charlottesville, VA

Hallelujah! Holy [moly]! Where's the Tylenol?

That's pretty good.

Mark from Westminster, CO

Unfortunately, I couldn't watch the game, but I did see we gave up 30 points, Carolina's season high. And we won with a late FG. For someone who didn't see the game how would you explain it in a few sentences?

Green Bay's offense looked strong for three quarters, and the defense was playing OK. Then both sides melted down in the fourth quarter, and a 14-point lead got away far too easily. The offense made two key plays to get the lead back, and the defense was saved by the bell.

Lewis from Tanner, AL

Is there anyone out there that thinks this is a good win? Loss would have been way better. One bad team beating a worse team.

You'll have to explain to me how a loss would've been better. I don't work that way.

Steve from Plover, WI

Hey Mike. A win is a win I guess, but there doesn't seem to be much to feel good about after that game. What are your bright spots if any?

I thought there was plenty to like about the offense, considering (again) the injuries to the perimeter weapons. Jones looked like his old self. Melton chipped in, in a pinch. The throws by Love and catches by Doubs and Kraft with the game on the line were first-rate. Those two three-and-outs in the fourth quarter were unfortunate. Jones was out of gas or he was the guy to feed. I don't mind staying on the attack with passes there, but you have to execute one to get the defense on its heels and at least flip the field. That was my only disappointment on that side of the ball. The defense? I'll just say it was not the response anyone wanted to see.

Glen from Eugene, OR

He [Young] finished with a career-high 312 yards, two TDs, a career-best 8.9 yards per attempt, and a 113.0 passer rating, the best number of his first season. Oof.

Yeah. Hadn't thrown a TD pass in a month and threw two just a few minutes apart. Shows what a jolt of confidence can do for any player. Providing that confidence in the first place was the problem.

Marty from Plymouth, WI

I find postgame comments from ML interesting. First he says, "That was really frustrating" with regards to two quick fourth-quarter TDs by Carolina. Then he says, "Their defense made adjustments causing our offense to stall." I can't recall the last time any coach or team made such comments about our defense? We're very fortunate the clock ran out.

From my seat in the press box and typing frantically on the blog for the 95% of the country that didn't have the game on TV, I honestly didn't have a good look at the clock as Young made that final spike. I breathed a huge sigh of relief after the zebra conference. But if they had let Carolina kick the field goal, it felt to me the only way the Packers were going to win the game was to win the OT coin toss and go score a touchdown. That was the only option at that point.

Roger from Glens Falls, NY

We finally achieved it: "Full inconsistency."

That was trademarked long before Sunday.

Jim from Tempe, AZ

Congrats to Jordan and the offense for rallying on the game winning scoring drive. Had been struggling in the fourth until then. Defense again falls flat. Gives up 30 points, most scored by Carolina all season. 312 passing yards, most all season by 65 yards. As Wes said last week, I don't know what needs to change but something certainly does.

I saw a fair amount of defensive aggression early. Sending a fifth, or even a sixth, rusher. Carolina was 0-for-3 on its first three third downs. Then Young started getting the ball out of his hands faster, getting out of the pocket sooner. So it made sense not to blitz so much. But I never saw an adjustment to the Panthers' change-ups. You have to be able to punch and counterpunch. You also can't allow a receiver to get outside of you to make a catch out of bounds in the last 19 seconds with no timeouts. Was that the call or the execution? I don't know, but the fact it happened is emblematic of the struggles.

Tim from Neptune Beach, FL

"… one way to create them is to generate some doubt in a QB's mind as to what coverage you're in by mixing things up, disguising, etc…" Most defenses facing a rookie or sub-par quarterback do exactly what you stated. Over the last several seasons our tendency is to not blitz and play soft coverage which more than not makes the guy look like an All-Pro as he shreds our D. Is it a matter of not trusting our players, a defensive philosophy or a combination of the two?

I don't know what to tell you, man. But when Young got rolling late, I leaned over to Wes and said, "He's got no doubts what he's seeing and where he's going with the ball."

Dennis from Batavia, IL

Only one question to ML about the defense in his postgame press conference. Were you surprised? We'll see how many get asked on Monday. Also, can you explain what happened on the coin flip before the game?

Everyone's taking Christmas off (at least media-wise) and Tuesday is the usual no-media day. He'll be back at the podium sometime Wednesday. As for the coin flip, Alexander was not officially a captain for the game but went out there anyway, playing for the first time in his hometown of Charlotte. The Packers won the toss, and Alexander said the Packers wanted to go on defense first. If it hadn't been for LaFleur clarifying with referee Alex Kemp beforehand that he was deferring if he won the toss, Kemp could've interpreted the words "defense first" as the Packers making their choice, and then given the Panthers the choice in the second half. Thankfully, Kemp just did what he knew the Packers wanted, though he didn't have to.

Pete from Caledonia, MI

A win is a win. The problem is, the defense is getting progressively more inept. The weakest offensive team in the league put up big numbers everywhere. Fundamentals are poor, positioning is poor, coverage must be easy to read. Barry is gone for sure, post-season (I know you can't comment) but, is it just "roll 'em out there and hope?" Or, realistically, can it change in short order? P.S. – Stokes and Ja looked slow and outta position a lot. Thanks for always being real.

I thought Stokes' and Alexander's play reflected how long both have been away from the field, and not playing regularly. I can only surmise the decision to play them over Valentine and Ballentine is to get them going these last few games, which would give the Packers' defense its best chance in the playoffs should Green Bay get there. I can't disagree with that line of thinking. As for your bigger-picture question about the defense, I'll leave that to LaFleur come Wednesday.

Adrian from Oregon City, OR

A win, but… if Tommy DeVito, Baker Mayfield, and Bryce Young have career games in consecutive weeks, it's not random, it's a pattern. How does this defense get some mojo for an elimination game in Minnesota? Is there a better answer than "I don't know?"

I wish.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Mike. Even though it wasn't a classic walk-off field goal, does Anders Carlson's last-minute kick count as a game-winner?

Absolutely, and it was great to see Carlson bounce back after the early PAT miss, which came on a bad snap. I know he's had more ups and downs than anyone would like, but a lot of young kickers in this league have folded when the going gets tough. Not Carlson.

Jean from Montreal, Canada

In August if I said to you the Packers would be in the hunt for a playoff spot with two games to play, your response would have been …

Is it win out to get in, or do they need help?

Tom from Lisbon, WI

I don't know if ever before a final-minute, clock-burning drive ending with a Packers lead-taking (and ultimately game-winning) field goal has left such a sour taste in my mouth. Not sure how to really feel about this one. And we got what we needed from the Lions, but not so much from the Titans or Colts. Oh well … Merry Christmas, I guess?

I'm not sure the Packers are going to get the help they need to pull off this playoff push, even if Green Bay is able to win its last two. I was not counting on the Seahawks being 8-7 right now, but give them credit, two late TD drives in a span of six days and that team has snapped out of its malaise. You're right about how this win feels. Not the best. Not the kind you hope can springboard you into two big division matchups down the stretch. But line up and play, see what happens.

John from Portland, OR

I am a big supporter of Mr. Gutekunst, but with a big game looming next week the trade of Rasul Douglas is looking worse and worse. The defense clearly misses him, and as Buffalo surges the difference between their third pick and our fifth becomes smaller. It feels to this fan like he prematurely gave up on the season, and now it may be one more thing that costs us a chance at the playoffs. Thanks for the great coverage and happy holidays to both of you.

Valid perspective. The GM has a tough job, looking out for the future while still managing the present. Hindsight is 20-20. The Packers were 2-5 with the schedule getting tougher, not easier. Let's see what comes from the move down the road.

Kevin from Grand Rapids, MI

What were the snap counts for RG vs the Panthers? A bit more even?

Perhaps. We'll get the official snap counts in another day, but it appeared Runyan and Rhyan alternated possessions the entire game, or at least most of it.

Linwood from Travelers Rest, SC

II, thanks for the story on Luke Musgrave and his injury. I was wondering what was the injury that caused him to almost instantly be put on injured reserve. Kudos to the staff for immediately directing him to the ER. As you've said, it's a violent game and now we know even the football itself is a part. Best wishes for a continued speedy recovery and return to the field, Luke! GPG

Back in 2008, Al Harris lacerated his spleen and somehow missed only four games (plus the bye week). I was astounded then and I'll be even more astounded now if Musgrave can come back from a grade 4 lacerated kidney by the end of the season. Most importantly, he seems to be OK and all is getting back to normal, however long it takes.

Keith from Middleton, WI

Regarding crippling playoff games: I moved to Scottsdale in December '07. I was gifted two tickets to the Super Bowl in Glendale. Packers playing the NFC Championship against a relatively weak Giants team had my friend and I absolutely giddy. Duh. I gave the tickets away. I'll never forget that, ever.

I'll never forget that week conducting a brief phone interview from his Alabama office with Bart Starr, who was coming up to be the team's honorary captain for "Ice Bowl II." During the course of the conversation, he distinctly said, "There is no way the Giants are coming up into the freezing cold at Lambeau and beating the Packers. No way." I did not put the quote in the story, believing it was on me to spare him any potential backlash, before or after. In retrospect, maybe I should've let Bart will that victory into existence.

Pat from Hudson, WI

Wes's statement that "The NFL Draft is an entrance exam, not a graduation ceremony" couldn't be more true. I'm retired now but over a 40-year corporate career I "trained" dozens of new hires, from MBAs to BAs to those with no post HS education, and there's no way to predict who will succeed and who won't. The most important characteristics you need to succeed in business are resilience, determination, and persistence which I assume would be true in the NFL as well!

In all the time I've been around this profession – what I do and what I cover – I've determined those who adopt the personal philosophy that nobody owes them anything are the ones most likely to succeed.

Sharon from Lakewood Ranch, FL

T'was a few days before Christmas when I sent to II, a naughty remark that got no reply! So often happens, tho I never quit, bet you both laughed at it, c'mon admit! You give me such pleasures with news of the Pack, as an avid II fan, was my attempt to give back! For the rest of the season if I try once or twice; I promise to focus on "foot"ball and always be nice! Many thanks for the gifts on II, the blog, and website! YAY! The Pack eeks out a WIN, Merry Christmas for all, enjoy a great night!

Merry Christmas everybody.

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