Lombardi: Big loss in Big D

Packers turned their backs on bread and butter, allowing Cowboys to feast

Packer fans throughout the world are spinning and rationalizing the loss to Dallas. Heartbroken as they are in probably losing home-field advantage, they grasp for some explanation as to why the Pack lost.

Charles Woodson did not play. True, he would have been better than Jarrett Bush and Tramon Williams, but injuries happen and Woodson has a history of them.

KGB did not play. It would have been nice to have him to rush the passer but see above.

Brett Favre got hurt. True, but he was not playing well for reasons discussed below and injuries happen and Aaron Rodgers played well enough to win (which is encouraging for the future).

Too many penalties. This is starting to worry me. I have always chalked up excessive penalties to a lack of discipline, reguardeless of the team. I have been hesitant to blame this on the coaches, because it did not seem to be the case, but with each passing game, I am having a harder time defending Coach McCarthy and his coaches. How long will they tolerate Atari Bigby and his mistakes? Not saying that they bench him, but he has to stop. But with the exception of the last pass interferance call, which was borderline, the Packers committed these infractions and they paid for them.

Turnovers led to 14 points for Dallas which hurts, but they happened. Also, TO made that bonehead drop in the endzone that was picked off by Al Harris so it goes both ways. The Packers have been riding the positive side of the turnover margin all year with the exception of the Bears game and the odds are against it happening all season.

Offensively, they got away from what had been successful all year long - I agree with this one and think this was the difference in the game. The other stuff contributed to the loss, but in my opinion, this is the real cause.

The Packers have won 10 games this year using a short passing game, which takes advantage of their strengths - Brett Favre and a gaggle of good recievers who can run after the catch - and covers up their weakness - a weak (yet improving) running game and an offensive line that cannot protect Favre for long.

For some reason, they came out in Dallas and went against that trend. Either they saw something on the tape which made them think they could beat Dallas vertically, or they decided to get tricky and surprise the Cowboys by doing something different.

Obviously, they were wrong about the first one. They failed miserably trying to go down the field. On the second possibility, it was a mistake because the Packers are not designed to play a deep passing game. Their lineman are not capable and healthy enough to hold their blocks long enough for Favre to get the ball down the field. Chad Clifton is aging before our eyes, Mark Tauscher is hobbled. Daryn Colledge got benched because he was going to get Favre killed.

The Packers do not have what it takes to go down the field and play bombs away as a game plan. They can take a chance here and there once they get the defense conditioned to sit on short passes. As a change up during the game, they can go down the field, but not as their main line of attack. Once Favre got hurt and they reverted back to the short passing game with Aaron Rodgers, they had success.

With Woodson, Tauscher, KGB and Favre all healthy, do the Packers have a chance to beat the Cowboys? Sure, but they will have to be lucky to have their whole team healthy seven weeks from now. If they play to their strengths, can they win? Sure. No one is unbeatable in professional football, but if they try and outsmart themselves with new tactics and do not cut down on the bad penalties, they do not have a chance.

Green Bay does not have the depth or explosiveness to overcome a rash of injuries and dumb mistakes. Nobody does, except maybe the Patriots and even they can fall victim to turnovers.

I was looking forward to a Ice Bowl rematch in Green Bay, but now the odds are against that happening. The Boys play at Detroit, home versus Philly, then at Carolina and Washington. They will be favored to win all of those. Imagine if the Lions help the Pack out by upsetting Dallas. We are all Lions fans today. Philly and Washington are grudge games but I doubt that the Cowboys will lose those games. All of this assumes the Packers do not lose again, which is possible, but not a lock.

A first round bye is almost assured, but if the Packers continue to battle injuries and get away from what they are good at, they might not get a chance to go back to Dallas.

John Lombardi is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at johnlombardi22@yahoo.com.

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