Packers’ Rally Falls Short Against The Steelers
The Green Bay Packers were once again involved in a nail-biter right till the final whistle, but this time the comeback fell short. And in terms of playoff chances, it could have been costly, as they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-31 at a freezing cold, snow covered Lambeau field.
“It was a game where teams battled back and forth, both teams overcame adversity, we needed to make one more play,” said head coach Mike McCarthy.
“We felt it would be an up and down game, the weather played a part in that, a crazy game.”
Jarrett Boykin caught his third touchdown pass off the season to open up the scoring towards the end of the first quarter and give the Pack a 7-0 lead. But a recurring theme throughout would be the Steelers ability to answer back, and making the game close throughout.
Pittsburgh’s wide receiver Emmanuelle Sanders tied the game up on the following drive, catching a goal line pass. The Steelers offense was clicking, as they drove down the field behind rookie running back Le’Veon Bell – who had a career high 124 rushing yards and the eventual go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Going into halftime however, the Packers would hold a slim three point lead, despite losing Clay Matthews to a re-injured thumb on his 50th career sack.
Eddie Lacy – whose rookie year continues to turn heads – scored on a powerful 14 yard run down the field, which ended with another signature flying spin move into the end zone. But Steelers’ kicker Shaun Suisham made it 17-14 as time expired with a 31 yard field goal.
Straight out of the locker room, the Steelers went marching once again. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger capped off a six play, 75 yard drive with an 11 yard touchdown run.
It looked like the momentum was all Pittsburgh’s as the third quarter continued, but Le’Veon Bell fumbled on the three yard line, giving the ball to the Packers who found the end zone shortly after. Eddie Lacy, on his way to breaking the franchise record for most rushing yards by a rookie running back, extended fully over the goal line to give the Packers a 21-17 lead.
The third quarter scoring didn’t end there though, tight end Matt Spaeth caught a 13 yard pass from Roethlisberger to swing the pendulum back to the Black and Gold. The lead would then be extended further after Matt Flynn threw an interception to Cortez Allen. The cornerback returned the pick for a score to make it a two score game going into the final 15 minutes.
Sure enough though, the Packers remained resilient and fought back, in what was a once again costly fourth quarter in terms of injuries. Eddie Lacy came up from a four yard run limping, which would force him to sit out the rest of the game, but the team did their best to continue to patch the wounds.
An AJ Hawk one-handed interception sparked a rally which would see the team erase the 10 point defect and take the game to the wire. Mason Crosby kicked a 21 yard field goal to get the team back within seven points, and John Kuhn barged his way into the end zone to tie it up with just over seven minutes left in regulation.
The Packers forced a punt from the Steelers in what looked like an opportunity to move down the field for a game winner, but Matt Flynn fumbled the ball on a scramble to keep the shaky drive alive.
“I knew I couldn’t slide, I tried to split the defenders, I have to do a better job. I was trying to dive for the 1st down,” admitted Flynn.
Bell would score an easy one for the Steelers, after the Packers defense let him walk into the end zone to guarantee possession with under two minutes left.
Jordy Nelson and Andrew Quarless came through again to help the team return to the red zone for the chance to tie the score, combining for 26 yards. But Flynn failed to find anyone open from the six yard line and time expired – after questionable clock management forced the offense to rush the final play.
“We knew there’d be a runoff and the clock would run. We should’ve gotten two plays off. We went as fast as we could,” Flynn explained.
With one game left on the schedule the Packers still have a chance to make the post season. With the Philadelphia Eagles beating the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football and the Detroit Lions losing to the New York Giants, if Green Bay wins their final game against Chicago at Solider Field next weekend, Green Bay will win the NFC North with an 8-7-1 record.
Featured image: ESPN. Above image: Packers.com.