Packers 3-3 After Another OT Loss

Aaron Rodgers drove the Packers to the tie but miscues put the Dolphins in position to earn the win. The Packers couldn't protect the quarterback and couldn't win the field position battle, and the defense finally buckled before the winning 44-yard field goal.

The Green Bay Packers lost in overtime on back-to-back Sundays, this time 23-20 to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The Dolphins, who won the overtime toss, gained 23 yards of field position on an exchange of punts, with their second possession starting at their 48. The Dolphins easily moved it to the 31 on four plays – three runs by Ricky Williams. On third down from the 26, Miami went for the 44-yard field goal, which Dan Carpenter made for the win.

The Packers' defense stiffened twice in the fourth quarter. After Mason Crosby's short field goal tied the game at 13, the kickoff return unit allowed a return to the 40. But on third-and-6, B.J. Raji batted down Chad Henne's pass. Then, with Miami taking over at the 49 when Green Bay's offense went three-and-out, Desmond Bishop almost picked off Henne on third-and-2. However, on the punt, the Packers were penalized for having a man, Robert Francois, line up over the long-snapper. That's illegal under this year's player-safety rules changes and gave the Dolphins a first down at the Packers' 44.

On third-and-2, the Dolphins had the perfect call. With safety Nick Collins blitzing off the offense's left side, Henne rolled right and then threw back to his left to tight end Anthony Fasano. The Dolphins had one blocker and he easily took care of a Packers defensive back, and Fasano strolled in from 22 yards for a touchdown and a 20-13 lead with 5:20 to go.

Taking over at their 31 with 5:15 remaining, Aaron Rodgers was crunched twice by outside linebacker Cameron Wake before scrambling on third down and flipping the ball to an uncovered Jordy Nelson for 25 yards to the Dolphins' 45. Rodgers hit Nelson for 13 more to the 32. On second-and-5 from the 27, Wake, who had been giving first-round pick Bryan Bulaga fits all game, drew a holding, and Rodgers threw incomplete deep to Andrew Quarless. On third-and-15, Rodgers hit Donald Driver for 8, setting up fourth down.

Given the two-minute warning to set up the key play, Rodgers hit Greg Jennings for the first down and he fought to the 9.

On first-and-goal, Rodgers wasted little time before taking off to run and got inside the 2, with Driver trying to help him into the end zone. On second down, John Kuhn lined up at fullback and got inside the 1, with another timeout with 23 seconds to go. On third down, Kuhn ran behind fullback Quinn Johnson and didn't get anywhere behind Bulaga and T.J. Lang, and the Packers used their final timeout.

That set up fourth-and-goal with 16 seconds left. Rodgers lined up in the shotgun with an empty backfield, and it looked like he ad-libbed to an under-center quarterback sneak to tie the game at 20 with 13 seconds remaining.

The Packers were fortunate to be tied 10-10 at halftime, and the difference was at quarterback.

When Rodgers had a chance to make a play, he hit Greg Jennings for an 86-yard touchdown with 1 minute to go in the first quarter. It was the Packers' go-to, big-play play call, with Rodgers on a half-boot and airing it out. Jennings toasted the Dolphins' fast-rising second-year cornerback, Vontae Davis, caught Rodgers' perfect long ball and outran the defense.

When Henne had a chance to make a big play, he blew it. On second-and-10 from the Packers' 25 late in the first half, Green Bay blew coverage an inexplicably let Brandon Marshall run free through the secondary. However, Henne's pass took Marshall out of the end zone, and Miami had to settle for a field goal and a 10-10 tie at halftime. Earlier in the half, with the Dolphins in position to lead 10-3 or 14-3, he threw a bad ball to Marshall that was picked off by Tramon Williams. That preceded the Rodgers-to-Jennings touchdown.

The moment

You could point to the officials' dubious call that turned a fourth-quarter punt by Miami into a first down and the eventual go-ahead touchdown. But how about the exchange of field position in overtime? Both teams went three-and-out on their opening possession but Miami gained 23 yards of field position in the exchange of punts.

The player

Cameron Wake is the best Canadian import since cheap prescription drugs. Wake finished with three sacks, including one in overtime, and six hits on the quarterback.

The number

136: The "hidden yards" advantage for Miami. Due mainly to special teams, the Dolphins' average drive started at their 32 compared to the 23 for Green Bay.

The quote

Greg Jennings on how many points the offense should be producing: "A realistic number for this offense is 28. We feel like we can put 28 points on the board, period. I know it's high, but we feel like with the talent we have, we can do that. The goals that we have for ourselves as a team are high, and they should be, and we shouldn't change our goals because we're not reaching 'em."

The division

Don't write off the Vikings (2-3), who come to town next week. They beat the Cowboys 24-21 behind Percy Harvin's 95-yard touchdown return of the second-half kickoff. Brett Favre, one week before his return to Lambeau and one week after a "sexting" controversy broke, was just 14-of-19 for 118 yards with one touchdown, one interception and four sacks. Meanwhile, the first-place Bears (4-2) fell at home to Seattle 23-20. Marshawn Lynch ran for a touchdown Seattle. Commence groaning …

The other things you might have missed

-- Even with Atari Bigby eligible to come off the PUP list this week, the Packers reportedly swung a deal for one of their former safeties, Anthony Smith. The Packers reportedly will give the Jaguars a seventh-round pick in April's draft.

-- Among the inactives were NFL sacks leader Clay Matthews (hamstring), starting defensive end Ryan Pickett (ankle) and top defensive line backup Mike Neal (shoulder). Matthews and Pickett worked out before the game but weren't healthy enough, McCarthy said. Without Pickett and Neal, seventh-round pick C.J. Wilson made his first start. Starting right tackle Mark Tauscher (shoulder) and star tight end Jermichael Finley (knee) also were inactive.

-- McCarthy, on his decision not to call a timeout to ice the kicker at the end: "We could play tennis if you want to. Wish by icing, then he misses it."

-- The Packers haven't played back-to-back overtime games since replacement players filled in during the 1987 work stoppage.

-- The Packers extended their league-high streak of holding opponents without a 100-yard rusher to 19. That's the second-longest streak in team history since the merger.

-- Rodgers' touchdown pass to Jennings was the longest by the Packers since Favre hit Robert Brooks for 99 yards at Chicago in 1995.

-- Driver is tied with Ed West and Rob Davis for seventh-most games in franchise history with 167.

-- Brady Poppinga exited with a knee injury. The severity is unknown.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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