The Green Bay Packers blew a 10-point halftime lead and fell to the New York Giants 27-22 in their first ever game in London.
The Packers gained only 100 total yards in the second half and their only points after the half came on a deliberate safety in the closing seconds.
Key penalties and poor execution at crucial times hurt the Packers who seemed to take the Giants lightly at times.
The Packers were trying for the tying score in the closing minute but the drive stalled at the Giants six-yard line.
The loss drops the Packers to 3-2 on the season while the Giants improved to 4-1. The Packers are now a full game behind the Vikings in the race for first place in the NFC North.
Here is a look at 10 things we learned from the Packers 27-22 loss to the Giants:
- The Packers Took Their Foot Off the Gas
The Packers had a 20-10 halftime lead after Mason Crosby booted a 48-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter. The Packers had five drives in the first half and scored points on four of them.
In the second half, however, the Packers failed to move the ball consistently and put zero points on the board on offense, punting twice and losing the ball once on downs. Green Bay briefly had the ball in the final seconds of the game one final time but couldn’t do anything with it.
Defensively, the Packers also failed to adjust and after forcing the Giants to go three-and-out on their first two drives, never forced another punt in the game.
The final five meaningful drives for the Giants resulted in three touchdowns and two field goals and that’s hardly a winning formula for the Packers.
Green Bay had this game but took their foot off the gas and lost it.
- Third Downs Hurt the Pack On Both Sides of the Ball
The Packers defense entered this game as the best unit in the league at stopping opponents on third down. They didn’t live up to that in London against the Giants.
The Giants finished the game 6-of-11 on third downs and they scored on five straight drives as a result.
Meanwhile, the Packers offense went just 4-of-10 on third downs and 0-for-1 on fourth downs. When the time came for the Packers to either keep a drive alive on offense or get the Giants offense off the field, they couldn’t get the job done on either side of the ball. This cost them dearly on Sunday.
- Daniel Jones Was Accurate
The Packers didn’t think Giants quarterback Daniel Jones would be able to beat them through the air. The Giants offense had yet to pass for 200 yards in any game this season until this contest.
Jones had enough time to throw and despite being slowed a bit by an ankle injury, he shredded the Packers secondary, completing 21-of-27 passes for 217 yards. Although he did not throw a touchdown pass, he was both effective and accurate on Sunday.
Jones played better than the Packers thought he could and that was a big reason for the team’s defeat.
- The Offense Got Away From the Run
Green Bay’s offense plays its best when they run the ball enough to keep the defense off-balance. In this game, the Pack got away from the run too soon and it cost them.
In the first half, when they were moving the ball, the Packers ran the ball 12 times for 53 yards. In the second half, Green Bay only attempted eight rushes for 41 yards.
When the Pack did run, they were generally effective. As a team, they averaged 4.7-yards per carry and that includes a three-yard loss on an end around by Christian Watson.
But the Packers didn’t run the football enough to keep the Giants defense off balance. Aaron Jones had just 13 carries for 63 yards while A.J. Dillon had only six rushes but gained 34 yards.
The worst example was early in the fourth quarter after the Giants tied the game 20-20. Matt LaFleur called three straight passes, two deep tries to Lazard and a medium pass to Cobb but all three fell incomplete and the Packers punted.
The Packers need to stick with the run, especially in a game where the run was working well but the team just got away from it.
- Amari Rodgers Continues to Struggle
The poor play of Amari Rodgers continued in this game. At the start of the contest, the Packers took Rodgers off kick return duty and replaced him with Christian Watson.
Rodgers was still returning punts and on his second try of the game, he gained 11 yards but fumbled. The Packers were fortunate Isaiah McDuffie recovered the fumble.
Rodgers later had one kick return for 18 yards which is certainly not special but was slightly better than Watson who averaged 17.5 on his two runbacks.
Amari Rodgers has no role on offense and remains inconsistent and mistake prone as a return specialist. The Packers need more from Amari Rodgers or they will have to find a full time replacement on both kick and punt returns very soon.
- Randall Cobb Excelled
During the week, Aaron Rodgers mentioned he wanted to get the ball to Randall Cobb more often because when he does, good things happened. Cobb proved Rodgers right on Sunday against the Giants, leading the team with seven catches for 99 yards.
Cobb has the trust of Aaron Rodgers. At this point in his career, he does his best work running with the ball after the catch.
Other than Cobb, Allen Lazard is the only other wide receiver on the roster today that truly seems to have Rodgers’ trust. Developing that trust with Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson would be a big help towards making the offense more consistent.
- The Run Defense Limited Saquon Barkley…Almost
One of the biggest questions entering this game was whether the Packers defense could slow down Saquon Barkley, the Giants most dynamic and dangerous offensive weapon. They did accomplish this goal for the most part.
Barkley finished with 70 rushing yards on 13 carries, but 40 of those yards came on one play. Besides the one play, Barkley averaged less than three yards per rushing attempt.
The Giants also effectively utilized Barkley in the passing game and he caught a 41-yards pass that hurt the Packers.
So, while the Packers defense contained Barkley for large stretches of the game, the two big plays that the running back made vital to the success of the Giants offense and the outcome of the game.
- The Defense Failed to Get Consistent Pressure
The Packers defense registered only one sack in this game and did not get enough pressure on Jones who was limited by an ankle injury. Preston Smith had the only official sack of the game and he officially recorded three quarterback hits as well.
The Packers did have two other sacks nullified by defensive holding calls, one of which was rather questionable and cost Rashan Gary a sack.
Still, there was not enough pass rush over the course of the game and Jones was able to take his time and find open receivers although the Giants receiving corps was missing key players due to injury.
- No Turnovers Forced
The Packers defense forced zero turnovers in this game. The offense didn’t turn the ball over either, so the turnover battle was even, but even one turnover by the defense would have made a big difference in the outcome of this game.
Through the first five games of the season, the Packers have yet to win the turnover battle in any of them. That is not a formula for winning consistently.
- Crossing Routes Continue To Haunt the Defense
The Packers had trouble stopping crossing routes again in this game. That was a killer against Minnesota and it hurt them again against the Giants.
The Packers primarily play zone defenses which means that communication on crossing patterns is vital. Knowing when to let a player go and have a teammate take over is critical on crossing routes and through five games, the defense hasn’t mastered that.
Opposing teams will continue to call crossing patterns in key situations until the Packers learn to stop it and it will continue to hurt the team all season if they can’t stop this play.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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