This week’s What Just Happened comes with the free inclusion of weeping and gnashing of teeth, since today we’re going to be talking about what went wrong in the Packers loss to the 49ers on Saturday night. In 16 years of Packers fandom, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a more thorough beating in the playoffs. It was 18 kinds of ugly.
For my sanity’s sake, we’re only going to talk about 5 of them.
1. What Just Happened to the Packers Defense?
Game Changer: The Packers defense played an exceptionally terrible game.
When you allow an opponent to gain nearly 600 yards on offense…you’re going to lose the game. You just are.
The Packers defense, and defensive coordinator Dom Capers, were rolling at the end of the 2010 Super Bowl season. They could do no wrong. Then 2011 came…and all they could do was wrong. This season has been much better by comparison, but as noted in the weekend preview post, the Packers defense hasn’t seen a whole lot of the type of offense the Niners run. And the Niners ran that offense all over the Packers.
It’d be somewhat like speaking Spanish and being expected to proofread a book written in Italian. It’s similar, sure; but you’re going to have a hard time being proficient, let alone excellent, when it comes time to turn in the assignment.
Aside from being unfamiliar with the offensive system (which shouldn’t be an excuse for any NFL team), the Packers dug their own grave by playing terrible fundamental football. Missed tackles, blown coverage, and puzzling play calls were the name of the game.
This video basically sums up the Packers night on defense:
2. What Just Happened to Being Bold (Or…Normal) With Play Calls?
Game Changer: The Packers didn’t trust their offense to do what they do best…or at least try.
This is a team that makes unconventional calls like they’re going out of style. Fake punts, onside kicks, the whole shebang. So when the Packer punted on 4th and 4, down by 14 points with 11 minutes to go in the 4th quarter…it felt a little like a white flag. To not go for it with your MVP QB at the 50 yard line that late in a playoff game? Mind-boggling. Plus, it’s not like the defense was inspiring confidence all night, either. The punt call wasn’t so much staying conservative as it was admitting defeat.
3. What Just Happened to Running the Ball?
Game Changer: The Packers reverted back to a pass-only offense and missed out on a potential running game.
The 2010 Packers were pass-happy for most of the year, but they got a good running game going at the end of the season. The 2011 Packers forgot what rushing was. These Packers have had a productive running game ever since early December and the addition of DuJuan Harris. But Harris was hardly seen on Saturday night, as the Packers struggled to get into rhythm on rushing downs. Consequently, they went primarily with the pass…and that wasn’t working for them, either.
4. What Just Happened to Fielding a Punt for the Love of all that’s Holy?!?!
Game Changer: When special teams is bad, everyone is bad.
The Jeremy Ross muffed punt was bad enough. But the inability to field a punt without bobbling it after that was just shy of incomprehensible. It was the embodiment of the complete collapse that was Saturday night.
5. What Just Happened to the Preseason NFC Super Bowl Pick?
Game Changer: There’s a new favorite in town.
At the end of the day, the Packers got schooled by a superior team and coaching staff. As per Survivor, the Niners outplayed, outwitted, and outlasted the Packers. The Niners were the better team in every aspect of the game. They deserved to win.
I’ll be crying into an empty gallon of ice cream until further notice.