Green Bay remains undaunted, despite losses
GREEN BAY, Wis. — There was no way for Packers coach Mike McCarthy to put much of a positive spin on Sunday’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts. A 21-3 halftime lead ended in a 30-27 defeat as Green Bay looked like a team without an identity in the second half.
With the Packers now at 2-3 this season and looking up in the division standings at the 4-1 Minnesota Vikings and 4-1 Chicago Bears, McCarthy wasn’t happy that they didn’t put away the Colts when they had the chance.
“Very disappointing loss yesterday,” McCarthy said at his Monday press conference. “It was an opportunity that we clearly felt we did not take advantage of. We’ve had the opportunity to watch the tape, grade it with the players (and) the grades were not very good.
“A lot of fundamental errors and some of the same things I’ve talked about. We didn’t tackle very well, we’re not handling the football the way we needed to, and on and on and on.”
Green Bay’s 18-point blown halftime lead is the franchise’s worst since November 1957. Offensively, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was intercepted on his third pass of the second half and McCarthy’s play-calling seemed to forget about running the ball once Cedric Benson left the game due to a foot injury.
On defense, the Packers allowed Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck to lead Indianapolis to 27 second-half points, including a game-winning, 80-yard drive in less than four minutes. Even Green Bay’s special teams, which McCarthy described as the “bright spot” for the Packers this season, didn’t perform well as kicker Mason Crosby missed two long field-goal attempts. Crosby’s game-tying try in the closing seconds was nowhere near the goal post, a kick that he pulled left by a significant margin.
An upcoming matchup in Week 6 with the undefeated Houston Texans on the road isn’t going to help make for an easy bounceback game for Green Bay, either.
“They’re confident (but) disappointed,” McCarthy said of his players. “Our practice, frankly, is not quite what it needs to be, and I think it’s shown up on Sundays. That was part of my message today, and I have to get that out of them. That’s my responsibility.”
Coming off a 15-1 season, expectations for the Packers entering this year were quite high, and understandably so. A Super Bowl title followed by regular-season success of that magnitude seems like a clear indication of a team that should continue to be elite, especially with most of its key players still at a young age.
But through five games, Green Bay has lacked consistency and has lost its dynamic, high-scoring offense. The rest of the NFL has seemed to figure out what the Packers did well in recent seasons and have been able to prevent it from happening again. Green Bay’s opportunistic defense from a year ago that had eight more interceptions than the second-best team in that category has not been forcing turnovers at anywhere close to the same rate.
McCarthy, as disappointed as he is with his team’s performance, now has the challenge of trying to turn things around before the Packers’ three-game road trip — with visits to Houston and then St. Louis — gets any worse.
“We’re a focused football team,” McCarthy said. “We’re just not playing to the level that we want to play at right now. That’s what we have to stay focused on. We have to stay focused on our habits, our discipline, our preparation (and) the process leading up to Sunday night.
“(The Texans) are a very good football team that’s playing very well and that’s the way we’ll approach it. We’re going down there to win the game, and we’ll do everything that we need to do to win that game.”
Follow Paul Imig on Twitter