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Scoring Chances Slipping Away

As frustrated as the Packers were on offense last Sunday against the Bengals, nothing was more frustrating than when the team was able to move the ball on certain possessions, only to blow scoring chances. Here’s a look at three situations.


As frustrated as the Packers were on offense last Sunday against the Bengals, nothing was more frustrating than when the team was able to move the ball on certain possessions, only to blow scoring chances.

In a game ultimately decided by seven points, every scoring opportunity was critical. Against Cincinnati the Packers had three drives (not including the final drive that ended at the Bengals' 10-yard line with the clock expiring), that totaled 140 yards of offense yet produced zero points, all in situations where the Packers could have taken the lead or potentially tied the game.

"You've got to cash in," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "When the opportunities present themselves, you have to take advantage of them. We were not opportunistic (Sunday). We were in fact generous. Cincinnati has good players and they played well, but we did not play smart football in some situations."

Here's a look at those three situations:

--Near the end of the first half, the Packers started at their own 24 and drove the ball 42 yards. A 25-yard pass to Donald Driver put the ball on the Cincinnati 34 with 1:01 remaining until intermission.

But an incomplete pass, a sack that lost 11 yards, and a third-and-long pass to Donald Lee that picked up 8 yards forced the Packers to try a 55-yard field goal on the final play of the half. Mason Crosby missed, and the game remained tied at 21.

"That's not very sound, smart football," Philbin said. "When you've got two timeouts and a minute left in the first half in the two-minute drill, with as much time and effort as we put forth in it, that was disappointing we didn't come in at halftime with a lot of momentum."

--On their opening drive of the third quarter, with the score still tied at 21, the Packers were pinned back at their own 4-yard line by a perfect Cincinnati punt. But they climbed out of the hole, as passes to Jordy Nelson, Driver and James Jones, followed by a 15-yard scramble by Aaron Rodgers, moved the ball a total of 56 yards.

The Packers had first-and-10 on the Cincinnati 40 when Ryan Grant caught a short pass over the middle but immediately fumbled upon being hit by linebacker Rey Maualuga, and defensive tackle Pat Sims recovered the ball to set up a go-ahead touchdown drive by the Bengals.

The team's first and only turnover thus far came at a horrible time.

"About the only thing you could really hang your hat on is we'd done a good job of not giving the ball away to our opponent a whole lot," Philbin said.

--On Green Bay's next possession, at the end of the third quarter and spilling over into the fourth, the offense drove 42 yards from its own 27 to the Cincinnati 31, with Rodgers completing four straight passes.

But a sack on first down, followed by two incomplete passes in Driver's direction pushed the Packers out of field-goal range and led to a punt, and the offense didn't venture into Cincinnati territory again until the final minute of the game.

The recurring theme, obviously, was the sacks that stifled the momentum of the drives. The Packers actually overcame a sack on the 56-yard drive early in the third quarter that ended with the Grant fumble, but that was the exception to the rule of the day.

"Our big objective going into the game was to eliminate the negative-yardage plays," Philbin said. "That was a big theme as we entered the week. We had six sacks and three penalties. There's nine. That's not a recipe for success."

{sportsad300}Aside from the rousing preseason success on offense - nine touchdowns in 13 possessions - the struggles are all the more startling because the Packers feature essentially the same personnel on offense that ranked eighth in the league in total yards a year ago.

As Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday, "We're not asking people to do things that they cannot do."

But the inability to bounce back from a rough offensive outing in the season opener against the Bears - when the offense produced just 156 yards prior to the game-winning 72-yard TD drive - was the most troubling development (or non-development) in Week 2.

Through two games in 2009, the offense ranks 28th in the league. It has allowed a league-high 10 sacks, and its 17 negative-yardage plays rank second-highest in the NFL.

No offense is going to score every time, and the efficiency the Packers showed in the preseason isn't a realistic barometer. But the turnaround will start with converting the good drives the offense does have into points, and moving on from there.

"I think these guys over the last couple years have been a pretty productive offense, so I think our expectations are much higher," Philbin said. "Both the players expect more and the coaches expect more, so we're disappointed in where we're at and the types of performances we've put forth here these two weeks.

"We're not functioning like we're capable of."

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