Play­ers try pro­cess­ing set­back

Los­ing streak hits four games


Lan­dover, Md. — There was a time not so long ago the Green Bay Pack­ers were a feared team. Not any­more. There was a time they were a con­fi­dent team. Not any­more. There was a time they were con­sid­ered a play­off team. Not any­more. The Pack­ers are 4-6, have given up 120 points to their last three op­po­nents and must make up a two-game gap in the next six weeks just to have a chance at the play­offs, where they un­doubt­edly would be picked to lose their first game.

If jobs weren’t on the line go­ing into this game, they are now af­ter a pa­thetic fin­ish in an em­i­nently winnable game they wound up los­ing, 42-24, against Wash­ing­ton on Sun­day night.

A na­tional tele­vi­sion au­di­ence was wit­ness to how bad the Pack­ers re­ally are and those in­side the locker room who had to an­swer to this lat­est loss know they’re on their own. Af­ter this lat­est loss, maybe deep in­side they agree with ev­ery­one else and aren’t sure if they can win an­other game.

“If you’re a fan, you can just give up,” line­backer Da­tone Jones said. “We don’t worry about that. At the end of the day, you have to look your­self in the eye and ask, ‘Am I do­ing ev­ery­thing I can to help this team win.’ ”

The last time the Pack­ers were this far un­der .500 this late in the sea­son, they had lost quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers to a bro­ken col­lar­bone in the 2013 sea­son. They went 0-4-1 over the next five weeks, were 5-5 af­ter 10 weeks of the sea­son and bot­tomed out at 5-6-1.

That team won three of its last four and made the play­offs with an 8-7-1 record. That team also knew that it was go­ing to be get­ting back its star quar­ter­back, who had been play­ing to his nor­mal Pro Bowl stan­dard.

This team has noth­ing of the sort to look for­ward to un­less Rodgers goes be­yond putting up big num­bers and ac­tu­ally wills his team to vic­tory. Whereas Rodgers com­pleted 26 of 41 passes (63.4%) for 351 yards and three touch­downs, his coun­ter­part, Kurt Cousins, was even bet­ter, com­plet­ing 21 of 30 (70%) for 375 yards and three touch­downs.

The Pack­ers just don’t have what it takes to win a closely con­tested game.

“I still be­lieve in us,” safety Ha Ha Clin­tonDix said. “We just have to find a way to win ball­games. That’s it.”

Many of the Pack­ers said the same thing they’ve been say­ing af­ter each of their four con­sec­u­tive losses, which is that they will put this one be­hind and fo­cus on the next one. But most of them have not ex­pe­ri­enced a col­lapse like this and there isn’t a cadre of veter­ans to show them how to fight through the losses.

Even the veter­ans don’t re­ally know what it’s like. The Pack­ers have had so much suc­cess over the Mike McCarthy era that they had trou­ble iden­ti­fy­ing the rea­sons they’re play­ing so poorly.

The Pack­ers have suf­fered a load of in­juries and lost sev­eral more play­ers Sun­day night — Blake Martinez, Ken­trell Brice, Demetri Good­son. At the end of the game, they seemed helpless to stop Wash­ing­ton from ham­mer­ing the nail in the cof­fin.

If they didn’t give up, then they were clearly de­mor­al­ized and beaten.

“I don’t think so,” Jones said, when asked if the team gave up. “We have to find ways to keep fight­ing and play­ing hard”

The Pack­ers go on the road next week to play Philadel­phia, which is un­de­feated at home and in the thick of the play­off race. If the Pack­ers don’t make a late-sea­son run, jobs are go­ing to be on the line.

The Pack­ers are now one of those des­per­ate teams. They’re not Su­per Bowl ma­te­rial, divi­sion cham­pion ma­te­rial or even above 500 ma­te­rial. Not any­more.

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