Green Bay Packers overmatched with Brett Hundley under center

By The Sports Xchange  |  Nov. 20, 2017 at 7:29 PM
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- On Nov. 19, 2006, the New England Patriots came to Green Bay on a blustery afternoon in which the temperature with the wind chill was zero.

The Ravens knocked Brett Favre from that game, held the Packers to 149 total yards and rolled to a 35-0 win.

"I didn't see anything like this coming into this game," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said on that 2006 day. "I fully anticipated getting out there today and competing. Our performance was poor. To lose by 35 points, frankly, is unacceptable."

Eleven years to the day, Baltimore blanked the Packers for the first time since that forgettable 2006 afternoon.

Green Bay turned the ball over five times and managed just 265 total yards as the Ravens cruised to a 23-0 win. Afterward, McCarthy sounded much like the he did the last time his team was shut out.

"It's unfortunate because of the way the team practiced this week," McCarthy said. "You like to see the team have success when they do so well in practice. Felt great coming here today. Felt great coming off the practice field yesterday. We took a big step backwards on offense today."

The Packers went a remarkable 193 games between shutouts. In that time, Green Bay reached the playoffs nine times, won the 45th Super Bowl and played in four NFC championship games.

But there's a different feeling in Green Bay today versus the last time the Packers were blanked.

Back in 2006, it was McCarthy's first season and optimism was still high. In fact, those 2006 Packers managed to win their final four games and finished McCarthy's rookie year with an 8-8 record.

It might be hard for the 2017 Packers to reverse course the way that group once did.

Green Bay, which has now dropped four of its last five games, fell to 5-5 Sunday and travels to AFC power Pittsburgh (8-2) next week.

Franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn't eligible to come off the injured reserve list for three more games. And the Packers are averaging a meager 13.4 points per game without Rodgers.

"We've just got to continue to chop the wood," Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari said. "I believe in the philosophy, keep chopping wood, eventually the tree's going to fall.

"We've still got a lot of games in front of us. Our opportunities are still there, but we have to capitalize on our opportunities. And, eventually, time is going to be coming against us, and we want to make sure that we're on the right side when time starts coming against us."

Green Bay quarterback Brett Hundley has thrown only one touchdown pass in the last 18 quarters. His passer rating is a miserable 63.6.

Hundley has just two touchdowns and seven interceptions since Rodgers went down in Minnesota on Oct. 8. Hundley has taken a whopping 17 sacks in 19 quarters and fumbled three times since being forced into action.

Green Bay's defense gave a valiant effort Sunday against Baltimore. But the Ravens possess one of the NFL's poorest offenses, and when the Packers have faced solid offenses this year, they've struggled miserably.

Right now, it's hard to find much to be optimistic about.

"You just go about business as usual," left guard Lane Taylor said. "You can't look back on this and say we can't move the ball or whatnot. Because we still moved the ball today. It's just we didn't execute when we needed to. We'll just learn from the mistakes and just keep rolling."

Back in 2006, after being blanked by New England, McCarthy said: "We will definitely learn from this experience and there will be positive things that we will learn and move on from."

He was right, too, as that team eventually saved its season.

On Sunday, McCarthy said: "I just think we're going to play better as we move on."

That was the message McCarthy was selling to his team. It's also a mantra the Packers were all mimicking afterwards.

Whether they fully believe it - and can save this once promising season - is something no one knows.

"No, we're not in panic mode," wideout Davante Adams said. "Everything is still in front of us. We've got to get a grip on it real quick here, otherwise we will be in panic mode. But I don't see panic. Panicking just leads to everybody just going all over the place and the structure of your team and your offense kind of falls apart. So you never want to panic."

--

Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark suffered an ankle injury with 10 minutes left in the game. And Green Bay safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix believed Ravens center Ryan Jensen was responsible for the injury.

Clark and linebacker Blake Martinez stopped Baltimore running back Alex Collins for a 2-yard gain. Clark's legs were stuck in the pile, and Clinton-Dix believed Jensen continued to push Clark.

"Oh, yeah. No. 66, I don't even know his name, but he's trash," Clinton-Dix said of Jensen. "He's a bad player. He doesn't play fair. This is a game that we all love to play and love to enjoy and you never want to see a guy get hurt when you're playing overaggressive and doing things that you shouldn't be doing. It's uncalled for. 66, I don't like him. He needs to tighten up on his play. Play ball.

"If you can't whoop him regularly, don't cheap-shot him. That's what that guy's been doing all year. I've been watching film of 66 and he's a dirty player. I would love to have him on my team if he was like that but, at the end of the day, you can't play like that and want to be a great in this league. It's uncalled for."

--

Wide receiver Jordy Nelson continued to struggle without quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Nelson caught only two passes for 24 yards against Baltimore, and has only eight catches for 92 yards and no touchdowns in the last four games. And when Hundley targeted Nelson, his passer rating was just 15.8.

Nelson believes things can get turned around, though, for both him and the offense. Why?

"Just the guys in this locker room, the way we work day in and day out, the pride we have in our job, and, so ... I don't think anything is going to change," he said. "We've just got to perform on Sundays and win some games."

NOTES: RB Aaron Jones was arrested on Oct. 1 after a traffic stop in which he admitted smoking marijuana. According to Wisconsin court records, the 22-year old Jones pled not guilty to speeding, driving without a valid license and operating a vehicle with a controlled substance in his system. ... OLB Clay Matthews played on only seven pass rushing snaps before leaving with a groin injury. Matthews made the most of those snaps, finishing with two quarterback hurries and a sack, but his status for next week's game in Pittsburgh is unclear.

REPORT CARD VS. RAVENS

--PASSING OFFENSE: F - Brett Hundley threw three interceptions, no touchdowns and had a miserable passer rating of just 43.6. Hundley also took six sacks, which killed several drives.

--RUSHING OFFENSE: D-minus - The Packers ran for just 75 yards on 25 carries (3.0). Rookie Devante Mays fumbled on his first NFL carry - and his second. Jamaal Williams averaged just 3.2 yards per rush on his 18 carries.

--PASS DEFENSE: C-minus - Baltimore's Joe Flacco completed 22-of-28 passes (78.6 percent) and had a 90.9 passer rating.

--RUSH DEFENSE: A - The Packers limited Baltimore to 58 rushing yards on 26 attempts (2.2 average). That marked the third straight game Green Bay had held its opponent to less than 65 yards rushing. It also marks just the sixth time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger that the Packers have limited their opponent to fewer than 65 rushing yards in at least three consecutive games.

--SPECIAL TEAMS: D - The Ravens had big kickoff and punt returns and Baltimore punter Sam Koch knocked five of his seven punts inside the 20.

--COACHING: F - Head coach Mike McCarthy thought Hundley was ready to challenge one of the top secondaries in football. He was dead wrong. McCarthy called passing plays on 67.2 percent of the snaps and that decision blew up in his face when Hundley was overmatched. The result was Green Bay being shut out for the first time in exactly 11 years.

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