EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—It’s getting to be a broken record against the Giants, but the Packers’ struggles on Sunday night came down to the same things they always do against this team.
The inability to protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers from New York’s pass rush and the tendency to surrender huge chunks of yardage to Eli Manning’s offense doomed the Packers once again in a 38-10 blowout at MetLife Stadium.
“I’ve never been a part of a loss like that,” right guard Josh Sitton said. “That’s not fun. We’re too good to be putting that out there.
“Everything was not working tonight,” Sitton said. “We weren’t doing our job up front. It was everything. They just kicked our (butt) all around.”
The Giants sacked Rodgers five times and pressured him on numerous other occasions. He never got comfortable in the pocket nor had a pocket to step up into. The press box statistics credited the Giants with seven QB hits, including three by Mathias Kiwanuka, who had two of the five sacks.
The biggest of the pressure plays came late in the first half. Trailing 24-10, the Packers had a first down at their own 39 with plenty of time to score, plus Green Bay was getting the ball back to start the second half. This was the Packers’ chance to get back in the game.
But Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora ran right around left tackle Marshall Newhouse, hit Rodgers as he tried to throw, and Jason Pierre-Paul recovered the fumble for New York. Two plays later, the Giants were in the end zone again and the game was basically over.
“They made it hard for Aaron to get the ball out,” said receiver Randall Cobb, who led the Packers with just four receptions. “By the time we looked back for the ball, he’s scrambling so we were trying to get it open that way. We have to go back to the drawing board and see exactly what happened.”
The defense took a step backward as well, surrendering big chunks of yardage and revisiting the tackling problems that plagued the unit last year.
The Giants had three big plays on offense – a 59-yard screen pass to running back Ahmad Bradshaw and completions of 30 and 25 yards to receiver Hakeem Nicks – that all led to touchdowns.
Equally disconcerting were the 13 additional plays on which the Giants gained at least 10 yards, many the result of poor tackling.
“I didn’t think they would be able to move the ball down the field on us like that,” defensive lineman B.J. Raji said. “Previous times a lot of plays went over our heads. That first screen, good call, but after that they were just moving the ball down the field on us, and that’s not like us.”
The end result was 390 yards on just 62 plays, a defensive effort unlike the way the Packers had played in putting together a five-game winning streak coming in.
“It hurts to go out and lose a game like that,” said safety Morgan Burnett, who pointed to himself for some of the tackling issues, but he certainly wasn’t alone. “The only thing we can do is just learn from it. We can’t sit around and mope about it. Everyone has to stand up, be a man, criticize yourself, and just go from there and move on.”
The moving on has to happen quickly. The Packers fell to 7-4, one game behind the 8-3 Bears in the NFC North, but three consecutive division games loom the next three weeks – one against each division foe, a stretch that concludes with the Bears in Chicago on Dec. 16. The final division game of the season, at Minnesota, is in Week 17.
“It sucks and it’s an embarrassment, but the thing in this league is you’ve got one day to get over it, then it’s back to work,” Sitton said. “We’ve got everything we want in front of us still. We’ve got four division games, so that’s the positive out of all this. We’re going to learn from it, grow as a team and hopefully go on a little run here.” Additional coverage - Nov. 25