TOM SILVERSTEIN

Packer Plus - - News - Pack­ers Tom Silverstein Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal Sen­tinel USA TO­DAY NET­WORK – WIS.

Of­fense lost its grip against Wash­ing­ton

Lan­dover, Md. — On a wet and soggy day typ­i­cal of the kind of sum­mer the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., area has ex­pe­ri­enced this year, the Green Bay Pack­ers acted as though they were from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

Their of­fense, in par­tic­u­lar, had slip­pery fin­gers.

The list of those who dropped the ball Sun­day at FedExField in­cluded re­ceiver Ran­dall Cobb, tight end Lance Ken­dricks, tackle Ja­son Spriggs, quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers and coach Mike Mc­Carthy.

On the same day the Min­nesota Vik­ings handed the Pack­ers (1-1-1) a great op­por­tu­nity to take an early lead in the NFC North, they let Wash­ing­ton (2-1) dunk-tank them, 31-17, in front of a halfto-three-quar­ters-filled sta­dium, a third of which was filled by Pack­ers fans.

Wash­ing­ton’s home­field ad­van­tage is so bad they re­fused to list how many peo­ple were in at­ten­dance on the fi­nal stats sheet, and yet the Pack­ers were not able to take over the place. They could not han­dle the weather con­di­tions or the foot­ball.

“They have a re­ally good de­fense, Wash­ing­ton,” Rodgers said. “I missed a cou­ple of throws I usu­ally hit. We dropped a cou­ple ones, chances for big plays. It kind of hurt us. Didn’t get a lot go­ing most of the game.

“Gotta give them credit, but we left a lot of of­fense out there.”

Most of it right on the sta­dium’s grass field.

Rodgers, play­ing with a brace on his sprained left knee again, strug­gled with ac­cu­racy early on, which wasn’t a sur­prise given his only prac­tice was in a mod­i­fied work­out on Satur­day.

But his team­mates never picked him up.

Other than re­ceiver Geron­imo Al­li­son’s 64-yard touch­down catch that cut Wash­ing­ton’s lead to 21-10 late in the sec­ond quar­ter, Rodgers’ re­ceivers were nei­ther get­ting open very of­ten nor hold­ing onto the ball con­sis­tently.

Cobb led the slip­pery fin­gers pa­rade with two of the team’s four drops and a fum­ble. One of his drops came on third down and one on fourth down; both drives had al­ready been estab­lished with an ear­lier first down and were start­ing to gain mo­men­tum.

His fum­ble came with 5 min­utes, 32 sec­onds left in the game and the Pack­ers need­ing a touch­down to make it a four­point game.

“My per­for­mance, I didn’t give us an op­por­tu­nity to win,” Cobb said. “Third­down drop on the first drive. Fourth­down drop. Fum­ble. I played ter­ri­ble, and I didn’t give us the op­por­tu­nity to win.”

Asked how much the weather played a fac­tor in his per­for­mance, Cobb dis­missed it en­tirely.

“That has noth­ing to do with it,” he said. “We played in these con­di­tions be- fore. It’s on me.”

It re­ally wasn’t en­tirely on Cobb if you con­sider how many other things could have gone right if the Pack­ers wouldn’t have let the weather af­fect them.

Be­fore Cobb’s fum­ble, Ken­dricks had a chance to make it a four-point game. On third and 10 at the Pack­ers 16 with 13:27 left in the game, Ken­dricks took his route up the side­line after Rodgers be­gan to scram­ble and found him­self wide open.

Rodgers threw a per­fect pass. Ken­dricks put up both hands in front of his chest, took the ball in and then dropped it as he fell to the ground. If he had stretched his hands out like most re­ceivers do, he might have had an eas­ier time catch­ing it, but he wasn’t wrong try­ing to spear it be­fore it got to his body.

“In hind­sight, maybe I should have switched my hands around,” said Ken­dricks, who after the drop sat on the bench with his head in his hands. “I think the im­pact of hit­ting the ground, I kind of lost track of the ball. I hit the ground hard.

“If I could go back and re­play it 1,000 times, I’d try to catch it dif­fer­ently.”

Ken­dricks said the ball was wet, but he couldn’t use that as an ex­cuse.

“I have to catch it, end of the day,” he said. “It was just a tough play.”

It wasn’t the only tough play of the day and Rodgers was on the throw­ing end of sev­eral them.

He strug­gled to put the ball on the money in the early go­ing, es­pe­cially on a third and 3 to Da­vante Adams on the sec­ond drive of the game. Rodgers had an easy throw to Adams on a slant, but he threw it be­hind him and while Adams got two hands on it and could have made a tough catch, Rodgers made it ex­tremely hard on him.

Rodgers com­pleted 61.4% of his passes (27 of 44), but many of those com­ple­tions came in the sec­ond half when Mc­Carthy encouraged Rodgers to throw more check-downs and take what Wash­ing­ton was giv­ing him.

See­ing his team strug­gle in the pass­ing game, Mc­Carthy could have fo­cused more on the rush­ing at­tack, es­pe­cially after Aaron Jones made his first ap­pear­ance late in the first quar­ter and again after Adams’ 3-yard touch­down catch had cut the lead to 28-17.

On his first two car­ries of the sea­son fol­low­ing a two-game sus­pen­sion, Jones busted off runs of 10 and 8 yards. He would have car­ried again, but Rodgers un­wisely went for the pass on a run­pass op­tion and found that Adams hadn’t an­tic­i­pated it. He ran 3 yards for the first down, but Jones might have got­ten much more.

From that point, Mc­Carthy and Rodgers threw four straight times and wound up kick­ing a field goal.

In the first half, the trio of Jones, Ja­maal Wil­liams and Ty Mont­gomery rushed 11 times for 64 yards (5.8 av­er­age). In the sec­ond half, they car­ried just four times, once on the 15-play, 75-yard touch­down drive to open the sec­ond half.

Jones had a 17-yard run on first down on the next se­ries and a 1-yard run after that and that was pretty much it for the run game.

“All we can do is wait un­til our name is called,” said Wil­liams, who had five car­ries for 29 yards and two catches for 16. “I thought we did a great job of try­ing to be spark plugs for the drives and just try­ing to keep it go­ing.

“We just have to fo­cus on ex­e­cut­ing and fin­ish­ing plays.”

Mc­Carthy’s un­will­ing­ness to run the ball was com­pounded by in­juries on the of­fen­sive line that forced right tackle Bryan Bu­laga (back) and Justin McCray (shoul­der) to exit the game. Spriggs had two costly penal­ties that slowed down drives and guards Lane Tay­lor and Lu­cas Patrick had hold­ing penal­ties that made for a long night of­fen­sively.

Maybe the Pack­ers weren’t as bad as the Vik­ings were at home Sun­day against Buf­falo but play­ing only a lit­tle bit bet­ter than your main com­pe­ti­tion isn’t much con­so­la­tion. Mc­Carthy and Rodgers must fig­ure out what Rodgers can do while hurt and the play­ers around him have to per­form in ev­ery con­di­tion.

“Tough con­di­tions,” Rodgers said. “I mean, not su­per tough. But we did have some steady rain for a lot of the game that makes the ball a bit slicker.

“It’s a lit­tle hard to throw, a lit­tle harder to catch. We hold our­selves to a high stan­dard. I gotta play bet­ter and we have to make the plays when we have op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

JIM MATTHEWS / USA TO­DAY NET­WORK

Pack­ers wide re­ceiver Ran­dall Cobb had four catches for 23 yards, but also dropped two passes and had a fum­ble Sun­day.

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