Report Card: Packers-Redskins

The running game and the run defense were the bright spots in Sunday's overtime loss at Washington.

PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Aaron Rodgers and the pass-heavy attack (50 pass plays to only 17 runs) had their worst performance of the season. The day was bracketed by tight end Donald Lee's fumble for a turnover on a long completion on the second play of the game and Rodgers' bad, though hurried throw behind wideout Greg Jennings that was picked off by safety LaRon Landry in overtime to set up Washington's game-winning field goal. Rodgers started well but completed only 27-of-46 throws for 293 yards, enduring eight straight incompletions bridging the second and third quarters. He converted just 2-of-12 third downs in pass situations, with Green Bay's only touchdown coming on a third-and-goal pass from Rodgers to Lee from 5 yards out. Rodgers' multiple targets did him no favors with seven drops, including four by the usually sure-handed Donald Driver. The loss of tight end Jermichael Finley to a knee injury on the same play Lee fumbled bogged down what the Packers wanted to do through the air. The offensive line, which included rookie Bryan Bulaga as a first-time starter at right tackle, let down its guard as the game wore on and gave up four sacks.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Carry for carry, Brandon Jackson had one of the more impressive outings by an NFL back this season. His limited exposure of 10 rushing attempts added up to a career-high 115 yards. Jackson's breakout moment came on the Packers' first play after the turnover by Lee at the outset of the game. The Packers ran a delay draw out of shotgun, and Jackson slipped through an opening in the middle of a bunched-up line, broke two tackles and was in the clear out to the right. Jackson had to settle for a 71-yard run -- the Packers' longest since a 73-yarder by DeShawn Wynn in the 2008 season finale -- and not a 90-yard touchdown because he lacks the breakaway speed, which enabled DeAngelo Hall to chase him down. Jackson added another explosive run, of 15 yards, out of the shotgun again. Despite racking up a season-high 157 rushing yards, the Packers struggled running the football in two goal-line situations. Jackson was stuffed for a 4-yard loss on a toss play from the 1. Then, in the second sequence on the doorstep of the end zone, John Kuhn and Rodgers (on a sneak) failed to get across the goal line on back-to-back plays.

PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- The Packers were relentless with their pressure of quarterback Donovan McNabb, hitting him 10 times and recording five sacks, led by linebacker Clay Matthews' 1.5 before he departed the game late in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. Yet, the only turnover they forced came on McNabb's desperation heave toward the end zone on the last play of regulation that cornerback Tramon Williams intercepted and brought all the way back inside the Washington 40-yard line to make things interesting before he was tackled. The game began turning Washington's way because of two big pass plays by McNabb, both at the expense of Charlie Peprah, making only his second career start at safety in place of injured Morgan Burnett. Peprah was late in help coverage on a 52-yard strike to Santana Moss (seven catches for 118 yards) and then bit on a double move by Anthony Armstrong for a 48-yard touchdown. Tight end Chris Cooley (seven catches for 69 yards) also was a thorn in Green Bay's side late in the game. McNabb was a ragged 26-for-49 throwing but totaled 357 yards. Back-to-back penalties in coverage by linebacker Brady Poppinga (hold) and cornerback Charles Woodson (interference) allowed the Redskins to get in position for the decisive field goal in overtime. Defensive end Cullen Jenkins was virtually unstoppable in the pass rush without a sack to show for it, and nose tackle B.J. Raji also flashed.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus -- Shades of Green Bay's top-rated run defense of 2009 finally surfaced five weeks into the season. It helped that McNabb didn't have the time, the room and spry legs to exploit the Packers' troubles of stopping the opposing quarterback from running wild. McNabb pulled the football down just four times for 10 yards. The bulk of Washington's output of 51 yards -- a season low for the Green Bay defense -- came from would-be bruiser Ryan Torain. The fill-in for an injured Clinton Portis managed only 2.5 yards per carry and finished with 40 yards. The Packers had strong efforts up front from Desmond Bishop (career-high 13 tackles), who replaced an injured Nick Barnett, as well as fellow linebackers A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones and Raji.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus -- Another troublesome outing for the special teams units. Mason Crosby missed the last two of his four field-goal attempts, including a 53-yard boot that bounced off the left upright to nix his shot at becoming a hero in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter. Crosby earlier was right down the middle on a 52-yard try. The punt coverage was negligent, allowing the diminutive Brandon Banks to pick up a bouncing football along the sideline and shoot through for a 30-yard return that set up McNabb's big touchdown throw to Armstrong early in the fourth quarter. Banks averaged 15.7 yards on three runbacks. The Packers' Williams nearly broke through for a touchdown on a return that went for 52 yards, sprung by blocks from Tom Crabtree and Korey Hall. Williams averaged 15 yards on his five chances. Green Bay's kickoff return was out of sorts and abysmal, starting with Pat Lee's 7-yard effort to start the game as the Packers threw a surprise look a week after still-No. 1 return man Jordy Nelson fumbled two runbacks.

COACHING: C-minus -- The grim injury situation before and during the game put the coaches in an unenviable situation with personnel and game-planning. Still, the Packers had more than enough firepower on offense and reinforcements on defense to return to Green Bay with a victory against an inferior opponent, but it didn't happen. Head coach/play caller Mike McCarthy all but abandoned the run after Jackson's 71-yard tote on Green Bay's third play of the game. For as many times as the Packers were in pass mode, the curious run calls near the goal line backfired. The offense also was out of sync in having to burn two timeouts early in the second half that wound up affecting the Packers in how and where they set up Crosby for his ill-fated field-goal attempt from long distance that could have prevented overtime. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers was liberal with the blitzing to keep the mobile McNabb hemmed in. Nine more penalties, especially a few at critical spots in the game, speaks to the coaches not getting the message of discipline through to the players.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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