Packers’ Rally Falls Short, Fall to Undefeated Panthers
The Green Bay Packers dug themselves into a hole and nearly came back to stun the Carolina Panthers. However, the Panthers hung on as Thomas Davis intercepted Aaron Rodgers in the red zone to help Carolina win 37-29 and remain undefeated.
The Panthers improved to 8-0 and the Packers dropped their second straight game to fall to 6-2. Green Bay and Minnesota are now tied for the NFC North lead with 6-2 record. The Packers and Vikings play in two weeks in Minnesota.
Sunday, Green Bay took a 7-3 lead when Aaron Rodgers found Richard Rodgers for a one-yard touchdown pass. After that, Carolina scored 24 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 27-7 lead at halftime.
Whatever Mike McCarthy told the Packers in the locker room at halftime worked as Green Bay showed some fight and nearly pulled off the comeback. Two plays and a minute into the third quarter, Aaron Rodgers found Randall Cobb for a 53-yard touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Aaron Rodgers tossed a touchdown to James Starks and then converted the two-point conversion to Davante Adams to cut Carolina's lead to 37-22. With 3:43 remaining, Aaron Rodgers and Richard Rodgers connected again for a touchdown to pull within eight. Green Bay got the ball back once more and drove the ball into the red zone. On fourth down, Rodgers was pressured and instead of throwing to a wide open Cobb, he threw an interception up the middle to Davis to end the game.
If you're a Packers fan, you're a little nervous. The Panthers, who are undefeated, now have the inside track to homefield advantage with a tiebreaker win over Green Bay on Sunday afternoon. The Vikings are tied with the Packers in the NFC North, too. The next three games are important for Green Bay, as they face Detroit at home, Minnesota on the road and Chicago at home. But also as a Packers fan, you realize it's midseason and there's still time to figure out what's wrong. R-E-L-A-X, right? The last time the Aaron Rodgers lost back-to-back games was in 2010. And Packers fans know how that season ended. Yep, Green Bay went on to win the Super Bowl that year over Pittsburgh.
Aaron Rodgers threw the ball 48 times and completed 25 of them for 369 yards, four touchdowns and one interception against Carolina Sunday. Rodgers found his groove in the second half and showed how pretty his deep ball is again when he found Cobb for a score two plays into the third quarter. Cobb was Rodgers' top receiving threat, as he had a team-high 99 yards. It was also nice to see Adams healthy, as he had 93 receiving yards.
The other bright spot continues to be James Starks. He caught a touchdown, rushed for a team-high 39 yards and had 83 receiving yards. Starks took advantage of Eddie Lacy's struggles once again. Lacy had five carries for 10 yards and a fumble against Carolina.
Two things that continue to worry me are the offensive line and the defense. The offensive line was a big strength for the Packers and they've struggled to start the season. The defense started the season out well, limiting Jamaal Charles and Marshawn Lynch under 100 yards. But in the last two games, Green Bay's defense has given up 64 points and allowed 927 yards. There's still plenty of time to get it figured out and the next three games against division rivals should be a good test and especially against the Vikings.
The other thing I didn't like Sunday was Ha-Ha Clinton Dix having words with veterans Julius Peppers and B.J. Raji. As a second-year player, Clinton Dix should not be going after two of the teams most respected veterans.
Now, it's to time see how the Packers respond with three straight division games and it will be important for its leaders like Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Peppers and Cobb to step up. After all, good leaders take charge in turmoil. There's still plenty of season left. The time is now.
Sam Tastad will have stories on the Packers all season with pre-and-post game previews. Follow him on Twitter @samtastad and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.