Packers Grade: Incomplete

Injuries certainly are an issue, but there's a bigger problem for the Packers that's going to sink what had been a promising season. "I'm disappointed, and I'm disappointed as the head coach of this team because we have a reoccurring issue that I have to get fixed," McCarthy said.

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy didn't want to talk about the 500-pound gorilla that threatens to sink this season.

"I'm disappointed, and I'm disappointed as the head coach of this team because we have a reoccurring issue that I have to get fixed, and we'll get on that tomorrow, and I'm not going to get into that right now," McCarthy said after a 27-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

He didn't need to wait to Monday because the Packers' problems run far deeper than the staggering number of injuries.

The Packers simply can't finish a football game.

In Week 1, the 49ers answered the Packers' go-ahead touchdown with a touchdown of their own, then ran off 4:26 of the final 4:52 to tack on a field goal.

In Week 2, Green Bay rolled 38-20 but was outscored 13-0 in the fourth quarter.

In Week 3, Green Bay was outscored 13-0 in the fourth quarter of a 34-30 loss at Cincinnati.

In Week 5, Green Bay gave up a late touchdown – which doesn't seem like a big deal until now – in a 22-9 win over Detroit.

In Week 6, Green Bay allowed three points in the first three quarters at Baltimore before allowing two touchdowns to make it a too-close-for-comfort 19-17 win.

In Week 8, Green Bay's defense allowed 10 points in the first three quarters but yielded two touchdowns in the fourth quarter of a 44-31 win at Minnesota.

In Week 9, with Green Bay needing to get the ball in hopes of rallying from a 24-20 deficit against Chicago, the Bears burned 8:58 of the final 9:48 to tack on a field goal.

Then came Week 10, Sunday's loss to the Eagles. A 27-13 deficit was probably too tall an order for Scott Tolzien, especially with a makeshift offensive line, but he never got a chance. The fast-breaking Eagles, who hadn't had a drive of longer than 6:32 all season and had the ball for less than 15 minutes in the first three quarters, ran out the final 9:32.

Other than Week 7 against Cleveland, the Packers had been outscored in the fourth quarter of every game this season. They had been outscored 83-43 in the final period of the first eight games until having a 3-0 edge over the Eagles on Sunday.

"We've got to win. That's where we go (from here)," outside linebacker Clay Matthews said. "Obviously, we have two losses (in a row), but if you look at how we lost, we still have a chance in the fourth quarter, and we weren't able to get off the field. You look at the Chicago game with them running the clock down, and this game, as well, where we're within reach. Obviously, we're going to put that on our hat, my hat, to do a better job of forcing the three-and-out, stopping them, getting the ball back to our offense and giving us a chance to score. We've got to come out and get this win – we're 5-4 right now – but we need to come out and get this win next week. We'll be playing an improved Giants team."

The Packers entered the week with the league's fifth-ranked run defense at 94.5 yards allowed per game. On that killer final drive, when the Packers had to have known what was coming, the Eagles ran the ball 11 times for 70 yards.

"I've never been a part of something like this, where we can't stop a team in the last two weeks," defensive tackle B.J. Raji said. "Need the ball back for your offense, and whatever they ran worked. I've never been a part of something like this. Live and learn and just move on."

The only pass on that drive was Nick Foles' 8-yard completion to tight ends James Casey to convert the drive's lone third down – third-and-7. Brad Jones missed a tackle that would have forced a punt with about 6 minutes to go.

"This team, it's rarely behind by many points," cornerback Tramon Williams said. "When you do get behind by many points, teams change their game plan and they're going to run the ball. That's more what happened but we just have to find a way."

As life without Aaron Rodgers continues, the defense must find a way more than ever. At this point, however, that unit seems to have lost its way.

"It always starts with me , and it ends with me," McCarthy said. "It's about anything in life, you get what you tolerate or you get what you emphasize. You can look at it anyway you want to. There's some things that we have not done a good job of all year, and we'll talk about that as a team, and we'll make sure it's clearly understood what we need to do. We need to play better. We had an opportunity today that we let slip by. You don't lose home games. Everybody knows the formula, it's no secret, it's been going on in the NFL for decades. You've got to win your home games, and we've lost two in six days, and it stings, it definitely stings."


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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.


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