The Green Bay Packers staged another second half comeback but couldn’t hold the lead and fell to the Denver Broncos 19-17 in Denver. Jordan Love threw for two touchdowns but was unable to rally the Packers on their final drive of the game when they needed just a field goal to pull off the win. Here are 10 things we learned from the Packers loss to the Broncos:
First Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: The Offense Started Slowly Again
The Packers have struggled to score in the first half all season and this game was no exception. The Packers gained only 100 yards and picked up six first downs in the first half.
The score was 9-0 at halftime which means the Packers have scored just six points total in the first half in their last four games. That means this young offense struggles to play from behind and they haven’t been able to consistently pull off these comebacks.
Matt LaFleur and the coaching staff need to figure out how to overcome the slow starts if they hope to win more games.
Second Thing We Learned: The Packers Injuries Continue to Mount
The Packers have been felled by injuries to key players all season long and the injuries continued to accumulate in Denver.
Defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt left the game early in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return.
Wide receiver Christian Watson was hurt in the closing minutes of the game as the Packers last drive failed.
Center Josh Myers was shaken up in the third quarter but managed to return to the game after spending time in the medical tent.
The extent of these injuries is not known and will be updated early this week by the coaching staff.
Third Thing We Learned: A.J. Dillon Had His Best Game
Running back A.J. Dillon struggled most of the season but he enjoyed his best game of the year against Denver.
Dillon gained 61 yards on 15 carries and caught two passes for 34 yards including a key 29-yard catch and run that was the Packers longest play from scrimmage in the game.
Dillon ran hard and with determination even though the offensive line did not always open holes for him at the line of scrimmage.
Aaron Jones also was effective and gained 35 yards on eight carries and caught three passes for 22 yards.
As a team, the Packers gained 137 yards on 29 carries, a 4.7-yard average per run.
Fourth Thing We Learned: The Run Defense Was Ineffective
After a solid performance against the Raiders, the Packers run defense reverted to form in Denver. The Broncos gained 145 yards rushing on 25 carries, a healthy 5.8-yard average per carry.
Denver’s running game was effective enough to help the Broncos get off to an early lead. The Broncos gained 90 yards rushing in the first half. Denver’s offensive line opened big holes, and the Packers defensive line was often blown off the line of scrimmage.
Fifth Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: Penalties Continued to Be a Problem
The Packers continued to commit too many penalties that disrupted their offense and gave Denver’s offense extra chances to keep the football. The Broncos picked up three first downs by penalty in the game.
Green Bay finished the game with seven penalties for 56 yards, but they were ill-timed and that didn’t help the team at all.
Sixth Thing We Learned: The Broncos Took Advantage of Jaire Alexander’s Absence
Rookie cornerback Carrington Valentine started in place of the injured Alexander and Russell Wilson and the Broncos took full advantage of the rookie in this game.
They lined up Courtland Sutton on Valentine as often as possible and this was a matchup that favored the Broncos top receiver.
Sutton finished the game with six catches for 76 yards and a touchdown with most of the damage done with Valentine covering Sutton.
Hopefully, Valentine learns from the mistakes he made on Sunday in what was clearly his shakiest outing of the season.
Seventh Thing We Learned: The Packers Pass Rush Failed to Pressure Wilson
The Packers pass rush has been the strength of the defense this season, but it failed to sustain pressure on Wilson for most of the game.
Preston Smith recorded the only sack of the game for the Packers, and it came late in the game-winning drive for Denver in the fourth quarter.
The lack of pressure gave Wilson the chance to find receivers downfield and the Packers failed to create any turnovers in the game as a result.
Eighth Thing We Learned: The Packers Struggled to Throw Downfield Again
Love completed 21-of-31 passes but the Packers gained only 180 yards on those throws. The long gain was the 29-yard pass to Dillon which went only three yards beyond the line of scrimmage before Dillon ran for the rest of the yardage.
The only other pass play that gained more than 20 yards on the game was a 23-yard strike to Watson midway through the third quarter.
The Packers short passes were ineffective, especially in the first half when Love completed 10 passes for only 47 yards and the offense couldn’t move the ball consistently.
Also, the Packers play calling has been ineffective for long stretches and that needs to improve as does Love’s downfield accuracy.
Ninth Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: The Only Turnover Was Avoidable
Love threw just one interception in the game, and it came at the end of the Packers final offensive drive. The sequence illustrated many of the problems the team has been struggling with.
The Packers reached the Denver 46 and had 2nd-and-10 there with 2:00 left in the game. They needed only a field goal to go ahead. But Elgton Jenkins took a holding penalty that nullified a four-yard run by Love and made it 2nd-and-20.
Love then missed Watson on a short pass to force a 3rd-and-20. Love threw deep for Samori Toure, and the pass was intercepted by P.J. Locke.
The Packers had two plays to try to gain 20 yards and pick up a first down. There was no need to throw 30 plus yards downfield and try to gain it all at once. Pick up 12-15 yards on third down and the ball would have been near the Denver 40. That would set up either a manageable fourth down try or a 58-yard field goal chance which Anders Carlson has the leg to make especially in the thin air in Denver.
The penalty, the bad play call and the inaccurate long throw combined to end the Packers chances to win this game all in one sequence.
Tenth Thing We Learned: The Packers Are a Bad Team Right Now
The Packers are young and inexperienced. They just played a team that gave up 70 points in one game earlier in the season and scored only 17 points.
Right now, they cannot stop the run and struggle to run the ball. They commit too many penalties and are often their own worst enemy. They continue to be inconsistent and break down at the worst times.
This team could still improve before the season is over, but right now, they are simply a bad football team.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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