It became apparent early in the 2012 season that the Green Bay Packers lacked the ability to close teams out. It started during the week 3 match-up against the Seattle Seahawks. The game ended in one of the most controversial calls in NFL history, but it shouldn’t have came that close. The Packers had scored to take the lead 12-7. The Seahawks would have to score a touchdown to win the game. The Packers let the Seahawks drive down past the 50 to set up that hail Mary play. The Packers lacked the ability to close out the Seahawks, mostly ineffective, offense at the key part of the game.
The following week against the New Orleans Saints, the Packers racked up a 21-7 lead before blowing it. They allowed the Saints to come back and take the lead. A missed field goal by Saints kicker Garret Hartley, gave the Packers a 28-27 win. The most troubling meltdown came against the Indianapolis Colts. The Packers took a 21-3 lead into half time, and seemed to have the game well in hand. The Colts ruled the second half, scoring 20 unanswered points and ultimately taking the win 30-27. This doesn’t just fall on the defense.
Many times it seemed the blame fell on the defense for the Packers failures this year. Although they were a big part of this, it wasn’t all on them. The offense which was labeled as “explosive” disappeared at key times during games too. The offense was able to close teams out in 2011 when the defense wasn’t at its best. It makes you wonder what happened to the offense this season. The play calling was vanilla at times and very predictable. This Packers team needs to be more innovative. They have watched other teams beat them this year by adding new dimensions to confuse them. Most recently the San Francisco 49ers perfected the read-option offense in route to bouncing the Packers out of the playoffs.
The Packers could learn from the mistakes that bestowed them this season. They have a whole offseason to think about what happened in that 45-31 blowout against the 49ers. Hopefully this motivates them and sounds an alarm that will bring change to both sides of the ball. Until this team learns how to close it’s going to be early exits from the playoffs.
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