Before the 2018 NFL season began, many fans and pundits alike predicted the Green Bay Packers would be a playoff team. While the Minnesota Vikings were an obvious choice to challenge for an NFC North title, the Packers certainly weren’t overlooked. At least 10 wins they said. Aaron Rodgers will win his third MVP they said. Jimmy Graham and Muhammad Wilkerson are excellent additions. Yeah, about that…
The new Monsters of the Midway, the Chicago Bears, ended up winning the NFC North rather handedly. Sure, the games sort of mattered near the bitter end for the Packers (and Vikings), but the Bears were the better team throughout the year and earned it. Congrats. But, we’re not here to talk about the Bears. Or the Vikings. And certainly not the Lions (LOL).
My job in today’s article is to look back at every loss (and tie) and see at what moment it went wrong for the Packers. With each game, you can point to something happening that turned it from a possible win, to an inevitable loss.
WEEK 2: In this game, at home against the Vikings, they had things mostly under control, and were looking to go 2-0 for the season. Up 29-21 with under two minutes in the game, Clay Matthews hit Kirk Cousins as he threw the ball, with Jaire Alexander intercepting the pass. Game over, right? Nope. Flag thrown. Roughing the passer was called, and the rest is history: The Vikings promptly marched down the field, scored the TD and got the two point conversion to send it into overtime. From that point on, no one could do anything, and after another miss from the Vikings kicker, the game ended in a tie.
WEEK 3: It was a sloppy game by the Packers overall (this would be a recurring theme all season), but they still had hope late in the fourth quarter. Down 28-17, and putting together a decent drive, Randall Cobb caught a screen pass and was immediately met be a slew of ‘Skins defenders and fumbled the ball. Redskins ball. Game over.
WEEK 5: Sitting at 1-2-1 for their record and facing the Lions in Detroit, we can point to four moments that cost the Packers the game. Despite Aaron Rodgers throwing for almost 450 yards and 3 touchdowns on the day, it wasn’t enough, as Mason Crosby missed not one, not two, not even three field goal attempts… BUT FOUR! ⅕ in today’s NFL, that isn’t going to cut it.
WEEK 8: For some reason, everyone in Packerland was still upbeat and liked their chances to go to Los Angeles and knock off the unbeaten Rams. A couple of monster plays and performances by Davante Adams and Aaron Jones had the Packers actually leading, until a late Rams touchdown gave them a 29-27 lead. No matter, Number 12 would lead Green Bay within field goal range. Or so everyone thought. TY Montgomery had other plans, as he reportedly disobeyed orders, took the ensuing kickoff out of the end zone, fumbled, and the Rams recovered. Thanks for coming.
WEEK 9: The Packers went into California believing they could beat the undefeated Rams, and they almost did. They had just as much confidence heading into Foxborough, as one of the most hyped up matchups of the year was on the docket: RODGERS vs. BRADY. It proved to be a worthy game, with the scored tied at 17 apiece at the start of the fourth quarter. As per the Packers’ M.O. this season, Aaron Jones fumbled the ball inside the Patriots 30 and from there on, the Patriots controlled the game. Boo.
WEEK 11: By now, the Packers were reeling, but still clung to hopes of reaching the postseason. The Seahawks were about to go in the opposite direction, as they would use this game as their springboard to surge into the playoffs. As per the theme of the season, the Packers held a late lead, but couldn’t put more than a FG on the board. This allowed Russell Wilson to work his magic and take the lead, with a very Aaron Rodgers-like drive. But the moment that ultimately cost the Packers was NOT going for it on 4th down in Seattle territory, with Mike McCarthy insisting on punting the game away.
WEEK 12: Special teams is often overlooked when gameplanning, but can be the deciding factor in many games. In this divisional game, the Packers and Vikings would have been tied in record if Green Bay would have won. Minnesota returned a punt past midfield, ran a WR reverse and then hit WR Adam Thielen for muscled in TD within minutes of one another. What sealed the Packers’ fate, however, was Tramon Williams calling for a fair catch late in the fourth, but when the ball bounced up and hit him in the chest, it was too late before he realized it. Vikings ball. Game, set and match.
WEEK 13: The game that no one in Wisconsin will ever forget. The game that no Packers fan will ever forget. The game Mike McCarthy will never forget. That’s because it was one of the most embarrassing home losses in the last decade of Green Bay Packers football. The moment it went awry was the moment they stepped on the field. From start to finish, it was all Arizona, with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback (starting on the road, at Lambeau no less). Mike McCarthy was fired a mere hours later. And rightfully so.
WEEK 15: It all came down to where the season began, against Chicago. This time, the Bears weren’t going to let their lead slip. Sitting at 9-4, the Bears would take an improbable NFC North title with a victory over Green Bay. What was even more improbable, was how it happened. With Aaron Rodgers setting an NFL record during the season for most consecutive passes without an interception (402 to be exact), he sure found the worst time to end the streak. With minutes to go in the game, the Packers had the ball on the cusp of the end zone, when a tipped Aaron Rodgers pass landed in the arms of Bears’ CB Eddie Jackson. Oops, butterfingers.
WEEK 17: Just like against Arizona, this game ended as soon as it began. But, for the sake of not copying a moment used previously, let’s turn to one of the more questionable decisions in the entire season. With nothing left to play for (LOL PRIDE), the Packers should have rested their most valuable players, and given looks to some younger guys. Instead, interim head coach Joe Philbin decided to let his defining moment be one in which he played Aaron Rodgers during an absolutely meaningless Week 17 game. Naturally, Rodgers was sacked and headed to the locker room with a concussion. You can’t make this stuff up.
And there you have it, my fellow Wisconsinites and Green Bay Packers fans. It wasn’t a pretty season by any means, and despite all of the gut wrenching losses, at least we can take solace in knowing that we had a chance to run the table. I know, I know… RELAX. Well, at least there’s always next year?