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Inbox: This win would've meant a ton

They were a lot farther away, scoreboard aside, for several weeks there


Mit from Georgetown, KY

That hurt boys, that one hurt.

No lie told. It hurt worse but for a better reason, to me anyway.

Josh from Nicholasville, KY

Yes it was a loss, yes that is disappointing, but I felt like we actually played an really good football game. You can't say that about most of the games we've played. Does it seem like some things are finally starting to click into place?

Yes. Long-awaited, but yes.

Bruce from Northford, CT

Serenity now. Serenity now. Serenity now.

I left the press box feeling if the Packers' offense looks anything like that in Vegas and/or Denver, Green Bay has one or two more wins right now. But so it goes. They weren't ready to play like that then. They are now. Let's see if it continues.

John from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Well, maybe I'll still be alive when the Packers visit Pittsburgh again in 2033. The Pack looked better. Played a good game I thought. Seeing the defense on the sideline paying close attention to that final drive showed some team … I dunno … chemistry, desire. Agree?

This win would've meant a ton. The whole team knew it, and they had battled start to finish. We've seen this team never give up in a game and it's not giving up on the season, either. They didn't win and that's frustrating, especially with the chances they had, but they closed the gap on where they need to be. They were a lot farther away, scoreboard aside, for several weeks there. Oh, and for the record, the Packers are slated to be back in Pittsburgh in 2025.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

The Packers' defense really seemed to struggle forcing punts against Pittsburgh in the first half. Previously I hadn't seen any of the Pittsburgh games this year, but were they running a lot of plays that the Packers were surprised by? The defense played better in the second half but in the first half they didn't seem able to stop the Pittsburgh.

No, they couldn't. Those first three drives were way too easy. One penalty on each drive gave up a freebie first down. No third downs required more than three yards to convert until the end of the third drive. LaFleur didn't make it sound like the Steelers were doing anything they didn't expect. He specifically noted they made a number of run-stopping calls on defense and they failed. The defense got its act together late in the first half, but that start was detrimentally poor.

Ted from Amherst, NY

It's always disappointing to lose, but I thought the Packers showed lots of signs of life – if they had kicked field goals on those two drives, they might have won. My biggest disappointment was the number of drops. Is that lack of discipline, immaturity, or what?

It's just another sign they aren't quite there yet. Sometimes the throw could be a little better, or the hands can certainly be better. The timing looks a little off here and there. It's about concentration and rhythm. They have to help themselves more. As to your "two field goals" comment, I do wonder what the decision might've been on fourth down in the red zone with three minutes and all timeouts left. Probably would've depended on yards to go, but I was curious for sure.

Check out photos from the Week 10 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023.

Mark from Big Bear City, CA

Morning Mike, once again thanks for doing the blog my wife and I really appreciate it. On that note I don't think I will be wishing for a turnover in the second half anymore, as that seemed to backfire on us.

Yeah, that little ploy of mine didn't work.

Tyler from Stetsonville, WI

Once again, team falls short in crunch time to win a game. By my count that's four times. As admirable an effort as it was, and we've seen slight progress in the chances on each close loss, they fall short yet again. At some point this team needs to win a game with a crunch-time drive if for no other reason than to see they can do it. They don't know how to right now. Will they figure it out? I hope so. These last-minute INTs and overall squandered chances is both a silver lining and upsetting.

All valid. What they can't do is get discouraged. All they can do is keep after it. They're going to get one, and one will lead to another. I believe that. I think the players do, too.

John from Madison, WI

I think we can take some encouragement from this one. Yes, it was still a last-minute loss, and yes there were plenty of mistakes and missed opportunities again. At least the Packers played the whole game this time, and were never out of it.

I agree, and that's what I focused my Rapid Reaction column on. The frustrations with how these games are ending are still there, but this was not the same type of loss we saw in Vegas or Denver. Not even close. There are no moral victories in the NFL, but considering the opponent and venue, this was the best game the Packers had played since Week 1.

Brian from Urbana, IL

I felt like Jordan Love played well. Avoiding the sack on third-and-3 showed a ton of awareness. The end zone INTs were because of forced throws in tight coverage. Do either of you agree?

Love hit a number of explosive gains down the field, which was huge to see. The offense truly looked dangerous much of the game. There's a lot to be said for that. I also don't fault him on the final-play INT. The Steelers have seven defenders in the end zone and he can't throw short of the goal line. Tough place to be. The tipped INT on the previous drive is the troubling one. Second down from the 14, it looked like a pre-determined read and Watson was never really open. As LaFleur said after the game, there's a better option backside on that play.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Hi Mike! I have only been able to watch two games this year because the Packer games have not been shown on our local networks. Earlier in the year on multiple occasions Wayne and Larry have stated that almost certain pick-sixes have been dropped in tight games that were lost. Larry intimated that late in the Steeler game De'Vondre Campbell dropped what looked like a possible pick-six. Tell me it wasn't true again?

The play was there to be made. It was a very ill-advised throw by Pickett. I'm not saying it was an easy INT, but it was there for the taking.

Jim from Sebastian, FL

While I realize that officials are human and can make mistakes, I don't get how using a challenge and they have the opportunity to review the play, how do they continually get it wrong? Fumbled lateral clearly … for all to see!

I wrote this in the live blog a few times. I think everyone knows it was a lateral, even New York. But because the official right on top of it was waving his arms incomplete and blowing his whistle, the league wasn't going to overturn a "blown dead" play. It stinks, but if the Packers are given a scoop-and-score when replay audio indicates a whistle before the recovery – on the TV copy, it's clearly audible before Gary picks up the ball – the league has a lot more to answer for. So they copped out with "call stands."

Ron from Roscoe, IL

I'm guessing one of the most popular questions/comments today deals with the lateral that was overturned. I only heard part of Steratore's explanation of why the referees on the field got it right because I kind of tuned him out as soon as he started down that path. Anyway, if it was a lateral, it kind of looked like the whistle blew the play dead just before the Packer recovery. If that were so, could we have won the challenge but still not gained the ball?

I wondered the same thing. Technically, they could've said the Steelers lose the yardage on the lateral, but they keep the ball because the whistle blew. That would've created a much bigger firestorm, however, than just saying the call stands and moving on. Hence, the less messy decision. That's my theory, anyway. Frankly, they should've just said the play wasn't reviewable because the whistle blew with the ball loose on the ground. That would've made more sense than doubling down on an obviously wrong call.

Jordan from Osterdock, IA

Oofta. Run defense … the more things change the more they stay the same. CBS had two clear camera angles, one from the sideline and one overhead showing without a doubt the pass was backwards. Does the NFL not have access to all cameras in a stadium? Otherwise I don't know how they get the call wrong and then double down on it.

Answered the replay issue above. Regarding run defense, that was the most disappointing aspect of this game to me (other than the blocked PAT, which had the outsized impact everyone knew it would). The Packers have proven they can shut down the run against teams that don't rely on it, but against teams that are coming at you with it, the performance remains sorely lacking. Allowing 200-plus rushing yards for a third time in nine games is just unsightly.

Vince from Auburn, WA

Poof! And just like that, the improved run defense disintegrates.

That's a more succinct way of putting it, yeah.

Cody from Thunder Bay, Canada

Hey guys, first time writing in a while, I guess this isn't a question but maybe it'll make me feel better to get it out. As important and integral as Aaron Jones is to the Packers, he's got to know he has to go to the sideline on the final drive. There was no chance of that play going anywhere and with no timeouts that cost them way too much time. The mental errors continue to hold this team back, veterans included.


OK, going to finish with some leftover items I cleaned up before the game.

James from Appleton, WI

I hope you're treating this like a radio call-in contest and going with the 39th person to respond to Mike from San Diego that the Jets have Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard and Adrian Amos, as well as Tim Boyle and Billy Turner. So do I get two tickets to Cheap Trick at the Outagamie County Fairgrounds?

Nope, because you missed Dennis Kelly, plus Jake Hanson on the practice squad.

Randy from Mackey, ID

Responding to Chad from Middleton: I think he said Jordan Mailata, their tackle.

That would make sense.

Highlights from the moments leading up to the Week 10 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023.

Florian from Kronach, Georgia

I came up with this question some years ago but you couldn't give me an answer then. So I'll try again … In training sessions, the defense always wears green home jerseys, the offense always practices in white away jerseys. Colors are never swapped. Is there a certain reason or history for this?

I still don't know, but I'm posting your question to remind myself to ask Red Batty the next time I get a chance.

Andy from Kalamazoo, MI

Dear Mike, thanks for your great answer to Chris from South Bend's question on coaching away mistakes. Classic Insider stuff I would never have thought of and that the TV guys tend not to explain even as they ride the Pack for all the miscues! Still, I wonder if the best coaches find ways to provide keys or game-like reps to test how players are making adjustments or to instill focus. Granted, there's no rep like a game rep, but are you letting the coaches off too easy?

It's on the coaches to set up the scout-team looks to give the players the most realistic approximation of what they're going to face in a game, but no practice plan can account for every possible opponent reaction. Young players seeing looks live for the first time may or may not adjust on the fly appropriately. When the film is reviewed, the key is to make sure players understand what unfolded so they don't commit the same mistakes later on. Games are reviewed on Monday, the players are off on Tuesday, and then the new game plan is coming at them Wednesday. It's a rapid-fire world. Players have to dedicate themselves to staying on top of their own game, which requires a ton of film study in off hours. Those who think the coaches are going to hold their hand all the way along don't last.

Jason from Austin, TX

Mike, I think I know where you're coming from, but I still feel the need to ask a follow-up. You said, "the only way to learn the pro game is to play in real live contests, because the speed of the action and mental adjustments can't fully be replicated in any other setting." Does that suggest that there's not a benefit to sitting for three years before playing? If the only way to learn the pro game is by playing, what benefit is gained by waiting?

The benefit is a larger, more comprehensive grasp of the playbook, as well as participation in all the discussions in meeting rooms as film is reviewed. The opportunity to mentally process the hardest position in sports before being thrown in the fire physically is going to help. It augments the experience gained from playing, but it doesn't substitute for it.

Jason from Westfield, MA

Hate to break it to you Mike, but the small segment of "decide Love's not the guy already and move on, like, yesterday" fans will continue to grow. And I'm not saying that because of what Love does, but because of the culture the world is shifting to. Like it or not we are entering more and more into the age of instant gratification and instant judgment.

Oh, I'm aware.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

I picture this: Late at night on a Monday, darkened office, everyone has gone home except coach, Mike, and the cleaning crew. LaFleur pounds on the locked film room door. "Spoff! Are you done with the all-22 yet? Write your damn WYMM column already! I need to prep for next week!" Or not.

We can safely say not, but that image belongs in a cartoon for sure. Happy Monday.

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