Someone made some big plays - finally. Charles Woodson returned a gift interception for a TD and had numerous other big plays - finally. He forced a fumble as did Aaron Kampman, but the Dolphins recovered both of those. Brady Poppinga and Nick Barnett both had interceptions. With Greg Jennings injured, Donald Driver came up big with 10 catches and a touchdown and a end around for a first down on fourth and one with the game on the line.
Ahman Green looked like his old self on a 70-yard burst for a touchdown on the Packers' first drive of the fourth quarter. The Dolphins had just kicked a field goal to make it close at 20-16 and his jaunt was a big momentum swing.
Brett Favre was serviceable for most of the game, but was 6 of 7 on the game clinching drive in the fourth quarter, including a touchdown pass to David Martin. He did not throw any interceptions, and the one fumble he had was definitely not his fault.
The defense had four sacks, A.J. Hawk (who had 12 tackles), Kampman, Barnett (who had nine tackles) and Michael Montgomery came up big.
Starting four Rookies on offense, three on the offensive line, is very courageous. The fact that the Packers have to do so is a sad reminder of the lack of depth on this team. With Chad Clifton out sick, Daryn Colledge started at left tackle and the early results were awful. He was beat easily by Jason Taylor resulting in two sacks and two forced fumbles, one of which was recovered by the Dolphins and lead to an early TD. He does not seem to have a good base and when he whiffs on a punch or gets his hands swatted away, he cannot recover. His feet are bad.
Subtract Green's 70-yard run and the Packers only averaged three yards per carry the rest of the game. The running game is weak, but it is getting better.
Rant, rave, rant, rant
The Packers were only 4 for 15 on third down (27%). That is not good enough.
They were 2 for 2 on fourth down. That is pretty good.
The Dolphins were 7 of 18 on third down conversions (39%). Not good.
The Fins were 3 of 3 on fourth down. Not good.
The Packer coaches adjusted to get Colledge some help and the protection was pretty good the rest of the game. Coach McCarthy called a good, aggressive game and the defense did just enough to stop a pretty bad team.
The Dolphins trailed for a big chunk of the game and were passing to save their behinds – they attempted 62 passes. But the Packers still gave up 414 yards passing on 33 completions. Thanks to some drops, tipped passes and timely interceptions, the Packers made the best of the game but to let Joey Harrington chuck it for that many yards is scary.
With Greg Jennings' injury, the receiving corps is hurting. Ruvell Martin had two catches and Chris Francies had one, but Donald Driver is their only real threat. Koren Robinson is done for a year, Robert Ferguson is a question mark and the Tight End position has underachieved all season long. Favre and Driver did it with smoke and mirrors. Driver had 10 of Favre's 19 completions and no one else had more than two. If they run up against a team that can cover the pass, things could unravel quickly.
Dave Rayner and Jon Ryan have done a good job. Rayner has been solid and Ryan is averaging around 47 yards per kick for the season. Ted Thompson should be congratulated for making the call on the kicking game.
The Packers are 2-4 on the year and with the reeling Cardinals and beatable Bills up next, they could be playing the Vikings on November 12th with a good chance to get over .500 for the year. The Patriots are next after that and then the Seahawks, who could be without Matt Hasselbeck. The final stretch is against the overachieving Jets, 49ers, Lions, Vikings and Bears (who might be resting up for the playoffs). The Packers could and should beat the Cards, Bills, Lions, 49ers and maybe the Bears. They will probably lose to the Patriots and Seahawks. If they beat the Vikings twice, they could finish 9-7.
Based upon the results so far and the status of their upcoming opponents, I would consider anything less than seven wins a disappointment. If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I never would have figured that they would be in this position but that is why they play the games. Things change rapidly in the NFL.
A week ago, Matt Leinhart was the next Dan Marino. Yesterday, he lost to the Raiders, who committed five turnovers. A week ago, Michael Vick was a running QB, but yesterday, he threw for four touchdowns. The Panthers, Eagles, Jaguars, Bengals, Steelers, Seahawks, Bucs, Chargers and Dolphins have all been the flavor of the day at some point during this season, only to have a reality smack them in the face. Working in the NFL is a rollercoaster ride. One day you are up, the next you are down and no one can predict who will beat who on any given Sunday.
Editor's note: John Lombardi is the grandson of legendary coach Vince Lombardi. His football experience includes stints with two teams in the World League (now NFL Europe); in the scouting departments of the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans; and graduate assistant coach and director of football operations at Vanderbilt. E-mail him at email@example.com.