GREEN BAY – James Jones didn’t mince words.
“I dropped it. I dropped it, period,” Jones said, referring to a third-and-goal pass in the final minute that he couldn’t come up with as the Packers fell to the Bears, 17-13, on Thanksgiving night at Lambeau Field.
Covered tightly by Bears cornerback Tracy Porter, Jones got his hands on the throw but Porter’s hand getting in there appeared to make things difficult.
“It (stinks), man,” Jones said. “You let your team down. We had an opportunity to win the game. I dropped the ball.”
Jones wasn’t the only offensive player lamenting a miscue. Far from it.
The Packers littered Lambeau with mistakes on a rain-soaked night that made their 30-point outing four days prior in Minneapolis seem like a mirage. Green Bay reverted to the sputtering offense that contributed to a three-game losing streak to start the month, and the result was just 13 points despite 365 total yards, including a season-high 177 rushing.
“We just kept shooting ourself in the foot,” right guard T.J. Lang said. “Penalties, not converting in short-yardage, stalling out drives. Third down wasn’t really good for us (3-for-11). Same things that have been hindering us all year.
“We’re not going to go anywhere we want to be if we keep making the same mistakes.”
The list is extensive, though this one probably isn’t comprehensive.
The Packers failed on fourth-and-2 on the opening drive. Davante Adams dropped a potential 47-yard touchdown pass. Eddie Lacy coughed up a fumble at the end of a 15-yard run. Jones was called for offensive pass interference in goal-to-go, leading to a field goal. A holding call on Josh Sitton followed by a rolling shotgun snap from backup center JC Tretter pushed the offense out of field-goal range. Aaron Rodgers threw an interception with just over three minutes left, when Adams got re-routed on a quick slant.
And that was all before the final drive, on which the Packers had first-and-goal from the 8-yard line and failed to score. No one got open on the first two throwaways, and then after the third-down try to Jones, Rodgers’ scrambling fourth-down toss tipped off Adams’ outstretched hands just across the goal line.
“It’s definitely frustrating when we’re going out there scoring 13 points,” left guard Josh Sitton said. “Last week we put up 30, on the road, division opponent. We come out here and drive the ball, it felt like, up and down the field, and didn’t score. Very frustrating.”
The conditions weren’t the best, and the Bears dropped a few passes, too, but Green Bay’s opportunities were simply missed, rain or no rain.
“No excuses,” Jones said. “Catch the ball. That’s our job. We’re receivers. Catch it.”
The loss is the Packers’ fourth in their last five games, their second straight at home to a division opponent. They’re now one game behind the Vikings for first place again, right where they were before they beat Minnesota last week.
It turns out Rodgers’ sub-50 percent completion rate in that victory was a sign the passing game wasn’t really fixed. Randall Cobb led the receivers with six catches for 74 yards, including a big 32-yard catch and run that got the Packers into the red zone on the final drive, but Adams and Jones combined for just two catches, both by Adams for 14 yards.
Fourteen of Rodgers’ 22 completions went to the running backs and tight ends. Rodgers also took two sacks and threw the ball away a number of times with no one open.
“Everybody is taking their turn at screwing up, and it seems to come at the most crucial time, whether it’s missing blocks up front, the sacks, the drops, whatever it is,” Lang said. “You look at the talent level on this team, and everybody is feeling really good about it, but everybody is not doing their job consistently.
“We’re running out of time. We have to find a way to turn it around fast.”
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