In the end, Packers shouldn't get a loss

BY foxsports • September 25, 2012

Well, the Packers (1-2) are back below .500, losing in Seattle to the Seahawks, 14-12. Seeing as the ending to the game will likely be the most replayed moment in NFL history, let's get down to it.

Five things we learned from the Packers' loss:

1. It wasn't really a loss: There is plenty to discuss about this game, including a lot of problems for the Packers that led them to even be in a position to potentially lose this game. However, it cannot be stated enough: While this was officially a loss in the record books for Green Bay, the outcome of the game is incorrect. How many times can that be said in the illustrious history of the NFL? The team that won the game literally should not have won the game. It's a sad day for a league that prides itself on integrity and has made billions upon billions of dollars from having an incredibly popular product. It doesn't matter if you're a Seahawks fan, a Packers fan, a fan of another team or just a casual NFL observer, this was not a quality product that the league gave its viewers on Monday night.

The Packers should not be given a loss. The Seahawks should not have been declared the winner. The referees on the field who incorrectly made the call should not have even been on the field to begin with. The NFL has the Referees Association locked out with a new collective bargaining agreement not in place. This means a group of referees who most recently have officiated high school football, lower-level college football and even lingerie football made a decision that impacted the winner and loser of a game played on national television in front of millions of people.

This was, simply, one of the worst days in NFL history.

To recap what happened on the play, Seattle had the ball at the 24-yard line, trailing 12-7. On fourth down, as the game clock expired, Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw up a hail-mary pass into the end zone. Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate shoved Packers cornerback Sam Shields from behind, but no flag was thrown for defensive pass interference. Then, Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings jumped and caught the pass in the air, bringing it to the ground, where Tate attempted to wrestle him for the ball. Jennings, lying on top of Tate with the ball pinned to his chest, had one referee signal touchback, meaning it was an interception, Packers ball and the game is over, Green Bay wins. However, another referee standing nearby simultaneously signaled touchdown. The officials went to the replay without publicly stating what the ruling on the field was. A few minutes later, despite video evidence to the contrary, the referee said the ruling on the field would stand, and it's a touchdown, Seahawks win. Apparently, though it was never relayed to the crowd or home-viewing audience, the referee who initially determined it was a touchdown had overruled the referee who initially determined it to be an interception.

The end result was an officiating mistake that had athletes and fans around the world reacting angrily on Twitter, disgusted with an outcome that was clearly wrong.

2. Packers offense still struggling: Moving on to the other 59-plus minutes of football that led to that travesty, Green Bay's offense is still not out of its season-long funk. After leading the NFL in scoring in 2011, the Packers managed only 12 points against the Seahawks.

Seattle has a very good defense, but Green Bay could barely muster anything positive. Despite not committing any turnovers, winning the battle in time of possession and accumulating 22 first downs, the Packers still had a difficult time putting points on the board.

Last season, Green Bay's lowest point total was 14, which happened in its one regular-season loss (at Kansas City, Week 15). Other than that, the Packers next-lowest scoring output was 24 points while racking up six games with 40-plus points.

There are still 13 games to go this season, but right now, Green Bay's offense -- as wide receiver Jordy Nelson told FOXSportsWisconsin.com last week -- just isn't clicking.

3. Why was Aaron Rodgers sacked eight times? The Seahawks' defense was dominant in the pass-rush against the Packers, especially in the first half. Rodgers was sacked a total of eight times, seven of which came before halftime.

There are many reasons why this happened. For one, Rodgers held onto the ball too long. During training camp, the offense practiced its passing plays with the aid of a flashing siren that went off after 2.5 seconds from the time the ball was snapped. That reinforced Rodgers to make a decision quickly, with the idea being that any play beyond 2.5 seconds could result in quarterback pressure. However, Rodgers didn't have a choice on many occasions against the Seahawks to do anything but hold onto the ball for longer than normal. A couple of the eight sacks were partially the NFL MVP's fault, but other times he was trying to make a play with nothing opening up downfield.

That's where the wide receivers are at fault. For a group that has been given much acclaim, Green Bay's receiver corp was not getting open quickly enough. Credit there must also be given to the Seahawks' secondary, but if Rodgers consistently can't locate anyone open within the first 2.5 seconds, the receivers need to find a way to break free much sooner.

That is where the play-calling of coach Mike McCarthy can be blamed. Perhaps McCarthy needs to adjust and call for routes from his receivers that are not as deep. The Packers are obviously struggling with connecting on the big passing plays this season, so maybe they need to abandon those looks for now and be content with shorter passes to help keep Rodgers from getting drilled in the backfield so frequently.

But the offensive line certainly cannot be excused. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga got beat one-on-one on multiple occasions long before a 2.5 second-clock would have expired, as did other Packers offensive linemen. If Green Bay's front five can't at least give Rodgers 2.5 seconds, there's no chance for the receivers to get open and no chance for passes to be completed.

4. No turnovers: There were a couple positives for the Packers in this game. For the first time this season, Green Bay did not commit a turnover. Running back Cedric Benson did fumble near the goal line, but center Jeff Saturday pounced on it to recover. Randall Cobb muffed one catch on a return, but he recovered it.

Plus, Rodgers, who threw only six interceptions all of last season but had one in each of the first two games this year, did not have any giveaways. That is one of the small positives about Rodgers taking a sack, because it is sometimes the best outcome if the other option is throwing the ball into coverage and risking an interception. McCarthy stresses ball security, so at least the Packers can feel good about that in this game.

5. Defense shines again: For the second consecutive game, Green Bay's defense was the best part of the team. That was not true once all of last season, so for it to happen again so early this year is unexpected. Though the Packers did not officially come away with a forced turnover, they did have two interceptions that were taken away by the replacement referees. First, rookie safety Jerron McMillian intercepted Wilson, but it didn't count due to a roughing-the-passer call on linebacker Erik Walden that seemed far from a personal foul. Then, the final play of the game should have been awarded as an interception for Jennings, though it's been established how that turned out.

Green Bay's defense did a nice job containing Seahawks star running back Marshawn Lynch, holding him to 3.9 yards-per-carry average with his longest run being only nine yards. Seattle came into the game as the NFL's last-ranked passing offense, but if it had not been for the final play of the game, Wilson would have barely snuck over 100 yards passing. The Packers' defense only had one sack -- rookie Nick Perry's first career sack -- but there was a lot of pressure on the elusive Wilson who had to scramble out of the pocket on many occasions and throw the ball out of bounds.

If Green Bay's defense can continue at this rate, it will be a very impressive turnaround for coordinator Dom Capers' group and a testament to a terrific 2012 draft class for general manager Ted Thompson -- who used the team's first six picks on defensive players.


Follow Paul Imig on Twitter.


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