ATLANTA – The Green Bay Packers’ season-long problems defending the pass were on full display in their 44-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had a huge game, completing 27-of-38 passes for 392 yards and four touchdowns. The only thing preventing a bigger afternoon was the scoreboard. Ryan had 271 yards by halftime and 343 yards after the first drive of the third quarter.
The Packers’ shoddy pass defense started with Sam Shields’ concussion in Week 1. Shields, who spent the rest of the season on injured reserve, was at the Georgia Dome.
He said he’s still dealing with the aftereffects of that concussion – the fourth of his professional career.
“Some days it’s tough headaches, some days it’s mild,” Shields said in the bowels of the Georgia Dome near the Packers’ locker room after the game. “It varies. I never know. I’m so used to it that it’s just normal. Each day it’s getting better. I’ll be back."
And that’s his intention – coming back.
“I’m thinking it’s not over,” Shields said. “I’ve still got more in me. But I’m going through this, what I’ve got to go through. Just take it one day at a time.”
Why risk himself and the possibility of another serious head injury?
“I understand why you ask that,” Shields said. “I don’t know. I just love the game, man, and I feel that I can get back out there and play. If not, then not. But right now it’s just day by day.”
Shields is under contract with the Packers through next season. He carries a salary-cap charge of $12.125 million – a huge figure given the concussion history. If the Packers were to release him, they’d save $9 million of base salary and roster bonuses.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.