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GREEN BAY – An injury-depleted Green Bay Packers team lost their most prized possession in the first quarter of their game, Nov. 4, against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers went out in the first series of the game with a left shoulder injury and never returned. As legendary Green Bay coach Vince Lombardi said, “What the hell is going on out there?” He would have had Rodgers’ shoulder taped up and trotted him back on the field.
So if Rodgers can’t go for a couple of weeks, do they give Vince Young a call? General manager Ted Thompson was probably on the phone while the game was in progress, saying, “I’m sorry Vince for letting you go. We need you and you need us.” But knowing Thompson, he won’t go out to get short-term help. They need three active QBs and keep Scott Tolzien where he is, on the practice squad.
Not having Rodgers in there gave a psychological boost to the Bears. The Packers stuck to their bread-and-butter offense in running the ball and produced a touchdown each by James Starks and Eddie Lacy, but Chicago exposed Green Bay’s secondary and scorched them for two passing TDs and one running score. The NFC North is up for grabs and the last thing the Pack needed was for No. 12 to go down and the Bears to get back into the race. Rodgers returned to the field in team sweats and stood on the sideline helpless while the Bears ran them roughshod on their own field for 442 total yards.
Somebody out there thought that Thompson should call Brett Favre back and rehash old wounds. Retire his number on the wall of honor after the first snap he takes from scrimmage. Chicago was a double digit underdog, and boy did people lose a lot of money on that game. And after their 27-20 victory, both teams were 5-3 overall along with Detroit. All three teams have a 2-1 division record so far. The winner of the Chicago and Detroit game Nov. 10 will take control of the division. The Packers won’t have any more division games until they play Minnesota at home Nov. 24 and at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.
More injuries to the Packers had head coach Mike McCarthy scratching his head and trying to plug the holes. Throwing backup QB Seneca Wallace in a pack of hungry Bears was about all McCarthy could do. Sure, Lacy ran for 150 yards on the ground and a TD, but if Wallace at 33 years old and rusty couldn’t grasp the system because he mostly watched in practice while Rodgers took most of the snaps, then how did the Packers expect him to run the offense?
“Obviously, not getting the reps in practice (didn’t prepare me enough),” Wallace said. “You got to go out there and just try to play. I tried my best. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure that it’s not a letdown in what Aaron’s doing and what I’m doing. Obviously it’s tough to get put in that situation and go out there and not have a lapse, but you want to go out there and compete. That’s what I’m about. I love to compete and I put a lot on myself and I feel like I should have played better.”
Translation: “I’m just winging it out there and seeing which way the ball bounces.” McCarthy was clearly disappointed in losing Rodgers in the first half. He didn’t talk to him at halftime. The coach wasn’t in the mood to speculate on how long Rodgers would be out or the exact diagnosis on No. 12’s shoulder. He isn’t a doctor, so he isn’t trying to play one. But, McCarthy is a master psychologist. He had no choice but to give Wallace more live practice action to prepare for Philadelphia at home, Nov. 10. He could get Wallace to pull a rabbit out of a hat and lead the troops without a wounded A-Rod.
Here’s why McCarthy could be feeling the loss of Rodgers close to the vest: When Rodgers sat out before with a concussion, he had Matt Flynn at the ready because Flynn knew the system and had a breakout game at New England, even though they lost. Wallace has been in Green Bay for the last eight weeks. It takes years to learn McCarthy’s system. Rodgers has an encyclopedia of information and the power to change plays at the line of scrimmage. Rodgers and McCarthy have a long-term relationship. Wallace has a five-page memory and no history with the coach, so some of the plays might have to be simplified for him because he might be gone after the season anyways. Learn and react while you can, Mr. Wallace, for two weeks because Mr. Rodgers is taking over the neighborhood again.
“Seneca needs to perform better,” McCarthy said. “He’ll definitely do that with a short week of practice. Aaron takes a lot of reps during the week. Seneca is probably on the low side of the backups. We do a lot of work with our backup guys after practice. It’s nothing like live reps.”
The confidence level didn’t waver when Wallace came in the huddle for the first time in a regular season game. “(My teammates) know I’ve been working the last eight weeks I’ve been here,” he said. “They are confident regardless of whoever’s in there. We’ve got to have confidence and know we can move the ball and do the things we need to do regardless of who’s playing quarterback. They looked at me and said, ‘Let’s go.’ And I know I’ve got to go there and perform at a high level.”
Receiver Jordy Nelson is endorsing Wallace and is very confident that he will do just fine. “We trust Seneca,” he said. “He has a proven track record and he’s been around the league long enough. We have all the faith in the world in him.”
So if the Packers lose the next three games with Wallace at QB, do they throw out the life rafter and look for help? Call Favre back or Graham Harrell or somebody and buy some time until Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and T.J. Lang (concussion) come back for the stretch run.
By Troy Sparks--MCJ Sports Editor
GREEN BAY – Two weeks since their last game, which included the bye week, allowed the Packer players to recover physically. Resting the body was necessary but reprogramming the mind might take a little longer, especially when holding a lead at Cincinnati only to lose it in the fourth quarter. Back to work and entering the game against Detroit at Lambeau Field, Oct. 6, Green Bay was 1-2 overall and looking up from the bottom at Chicago and the Lions. George H.W. Bush was finishing his only four-year term as president of the United States when the Packers began their 21-game regular season winning streak in Wisconsin against the Lions (Dec. 6, 1992). For a team that thrives on showcasing a high potent offense, Green Bay didn’t show it. A total of three field goals (two by Mason Crosby and one by David Akers) made the halftime score (6-3) look like a baseball score.The Packers had the ball longer than the Lions in the half (17:05 to 12:55). Did the 78,200 who made the treacherous, pub-crawling drive in snail-moving traffic along Highway 41 come to see the output by the two teams produce only nine points on the field? Green Bay needed to win in the worst way possible. Win pretty or win ugly, it didn’t matter, as long they got the W. Lose the game and Packer Nation would call for head coach Mike McCarthy to get fired or hand over the play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Tom Clements. McCarthy likes to call the plays on offense. Starting out at 1-3 is unacceptable in Titletown and it was time to seal the leaks on the offensive end of the ball. A long touchdown by receiver James Jones and three more three-pointers by Crosby gave the Pack enough of a margin to win the game and survive another week. Crosby joined Ryan Longwell and Chris Jacke as the only kickers to make five field goals in a game. It was a good thing that Crosby was perfect on all his FGs because he will be needed down the stretch on days when Green Bay can’t get TDs. “We gave up 83 yards,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said on Jones’ score. “I don’t go through and assign blame or anything else. We broke down and gave up an 83-yarder. “I think that is bad enough. I am not in the business of scapegoating anybody or putting up stuff like that. “It is up to us as coaches and players to correct. It is on our defense. It is on our team. It is not on any one person or anything else. I’ll let all the experts explain what happened on the play.” Green Bay had two opportunities to score TDs inside the Lions’ 20-yard line and came away with six points. “Our red zone production is definitely not where we want to be,” McCarthy said. “Anytime (Crosby) kicks five field goals, that’s an obvious statistic. “You look at some of those plays and (Detroit) played us aggressively down there. We had some opportunities.” Five field goals in a 22-9 Green Bay win on a sunny and fair weather Sunday isn’t bad when it’s against the Lions. With no more breaks in the schedule left, the Packers took the victory in stride even when the game got a little goofy at times with how the seven-man crew officiated the game on the field and the replay guy in the booth. “It was a little bit of a distraughted game,” McCarthy said. “The officials went through an adjustment there. The game was kind of up and down as far as different breaks in the game. It was a little bit like a sparring match, going back and forth. I thought our players did an excellent job of handling the situations that came up.” After Crosby’s first field goal opened the scoring at 3-0, Green Bay punter Tim Mastay put the ball on the tee to kick off. The ball fell off the tee twice, so free safety M.D. Jennings, who lined up at the end of the kickoff team, left his position to hold the ball. Referee Jerome Boger called him for an illegal formation because Jennings kneeled next to the ball to hold it until Mastay kicked it. Anyone on the kickoff team can hold the ball when it doesn’t stay on the tee when the wind knocks it off you would think. Did Mr. Boger assume that the weather in Green Bay would be calm with no wind? What was he thinking? That’s the way northern Wisconsin weather rolls in the fall. Jones should’ve had a second TD on a pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers with 3 minutes 59 seconds remaining in the game, but Carl Madsen, the replay official, ruled that he was out of bounds and didn’t keep the second foot in bounds. Jones’ left foot touched the out-of-bounds line. The ball was clearly across the goal line. The Packers settled for their last field goal of the game. With 12 games to go, the Packers are where they are after the first quarter of the regular season at 2-2. “The health of this football team is going to be very important come in November, December for us to make the kind of run we want,” Rodgers said. The Packers will make some noise in the coming weeks if their high-powered offense clicks on all cylinders. “We are a spread offense,” Rodgers said. “We’re a three-receiver offense. (Tight end) Jermicheal (Finley) adds a fourth receiver option there and we’re going to make teams declare what they’re going to do. And if they’re going to play a lot of high safeties and stay in a two-high or roll down late, we’re going to make you tackle a 230-pound back (Eddie Lacy).” Lacy had 99 tough yards in the Detroit game. If what Rodgers say is true, he’s giving advance notice to Baltimore, Cleveland, Minnesota, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Atlanta, Dallas and Pittsburgh to get out the way or get rolled over.
By Jay Sorgi – Today’sTMJ4
The fear that comes from watching your father get hurt in an NFL game can seem to be unbearable.
When Jermichael Finley suffered a concussion in the Packers’ 34-30 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, he got a painful message from his son a short time later.
“When I came back to reality…I picked up my phone. My wife had called at least 30 times, seriously. She put my little man on the phone,” Finley said on a Vimeo video published Friday.
“He said, ‘Daddy, I don’t want you to play football anymore.’ That was a little hard to take, hearing a five-year-old, knowing the violence, the intensity of the game, seeing his dad walk off the field like he did.”
Finley recounted what he remembered of the play that led to the concussion, and even the weird sensation he felt and visions he had when he attempted to get up.
“As I was going out for the route, I had the safety backside, and I had the linebacker on my hip. I knew when the play was called, I knew it was coming to me…(I) didn’t necessarily see the safety on my hip. Aaron Rodgers threw the ball. I dove. After that, I felt the hit on my shoulder. After all that happened, I was unconscious,” said Finley.
“I had a knee to my head, and then I had the ground contact. I guess the ground knocked me out…all I saw was jerseys. I saw yellow pants, and I didn’t see (any) head or legs. Everybody was decapitated and my body was just on fire.”
He was able to get back to the sideline, and was taken to the locker room.
“Dr. Gray told me ‘You can do whatever you want. You can throw me across this training room if you want, but your butt is not going into that game.’ I said, ‘Actually, I do want to throw you across this locker room right now.’ But at the end of the day, I know it’s in my best interest to sit out.”
He said he still had to go through the NFL protocol, “getting my balance right, sight, remembering everything they tell me, getting my condition down right.”
Green Bay Packers Hall of Famer LeRoy Butler is taking a grass roots approach in his “Be a Buddy not a Bully” campaign against bullying. His campaign is striving to bring professionals, teachers, parents and families together to discuss, in an open microphone format, the social problems that derive from bullying in communities, churches and schools today.
Butler will be making an appearance at Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and will be signing autographs and taking pictures to raise money for this foundation.
There is no fee, but donations are welcomed and suggested, beginning at $5. Butler will have 8×10 photos, cookbooks and Lambeau Leap canvases available as well.
In the last six months, Butler has traveled to schools and churches throughout Wisconsin to sit down with people who are recipients of bullying tactics and those that have performed behaviors of a bullying nature.
His approach has been to bring awareness to the problem, to have an open environment for these individuals to face each other in a non-confrontational environment and to find resolution that is positive moving forward. His success in this approach has led him to want to work with other organizations, schools, churches and professionals to bring a more global awareness to this social problem.
The “Be a Buddy not a Bully” campaign would like to reach over 20 schools their first year and interview over 100 students while striving to reach 500 students within three years.
Butler’s approach is to meet with the students, faculty, parents and community in a “game show” atmosphere that allows the students to have a voice and figure out this growing social problem. The campaign will develop a $5,000.00 scholarship fund for each school that is chosen to participate. Butler also hopes this will help the parents, professionals and the faculty expose those students or community members, more promptly, who suffer in silence through depression, self mutilation or harming of one self, and through non-verbal bullying.
The approach allows the kids to learn to be leaders and not followers.
“This problem cannot be ignored any longer and it is our goal to provide a place for these kids to feel free to open up about the problem and be a leader in helping us solve this issue,” Butler said.
Butler is working with various organizations, companies and individuals to raise money to film a documentary on the effects of this social problem in our communities, society and families. Butler has funded a portion of the money needed and is working diligently to raise nearly $300,000 to complete the documentary.
If you or your company would like to contribute to the “Be a Buddy not a Bully” campaign please go to leroybutlerinc.com for more information on the Kick Starter website or to inquire more information.
by Cary Docter
GREEN BAY (WITI) — The Green Bay Packers have signed QB Seneca Wallace, released QB B.J. Coleman, and signed six players to the practice squad.
Wallace, a 5-foot-11, 205-pound 10th-year player out of Iowa State, was drafted by Seattle in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft. He played for the Seahawks for seven seasons (2003-09) and the Cleveland Browns for two seasons (2010-11). Wallace has played in 62 career games with 21 starts and has completed 452 of 764 passes (59.2 percent) for 4,808 yards and 31 TDs with and 18 INTs for a 81.3 passer rating. He was with the Browns during the 2012 preseason and spent time with New Orleans and San Francisco during the 2013 preseason. Wallace will wear No. 9 for the Packers.
Signed to the practice squad were G Bryan Collins, WR Charles Johnson, CB James Nixon, TE Jake Stoneburner, QB Scott Tolzien and WR Myles White.
Collins, a 6-foot-3, 301-pound rookie out of Southern Methodist, entered the NFL as a non-drafted free agent with the Houston Texans, appearing in two of the team’s preseason contests in 2013. He started 20 games during his collegiate career and earned second-team All-Conference USA honors as a senior in 2012. Collins will wear No. 68 for the Packers.
Tolzien (toll-ZEEN), a 6-foot-2, 213-pound third-year player out of the University of Wisconsin, entered the league as a non-drafted free agent with the San Diego Chargers in 2011. Following the 2011 preseason, he was claimed off waivers by the San Francisco 49ers, where he was a member of the 53-man roster for both the 2011 and 2012 seasons, but did not appear in a game. Tolzien will wear No. 16 for the Packers.
The other four signees to the practice squad were with the Packers during the 2013 preseason.
by Troy Sparks
This is the end of the year that everything on local sports didn’t go as planned in 2012. It just didn’t. So what happened? I wished I knew. I was looking forward to going back to the Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers, but the team didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. It was fun going down to Arlington, TX to cover the Packers and watch them win in Super Bowl XLV.
Based on their 15-1 regular season record and home field advantage throughout the playoffs last season, which included a first round bye and second round home game, it looked like a slam dunk for the Pack to make the short trip to Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI.
It just wasn’t meant to be for the Packers. So maybe they will have a new sense of urgency and play with a chip on their shoulders in running the tables in the playoffs this time. According to NFL media, if the Packers make it to the Big Dance in New Orleans, then I go. If not, oh well.
When I saw what the Milwaukee Brewers did in 2011, it was special, especially when they made it to the National League Championship Series. I got to see three games at Miller Park and the playoff atmosphere it created.
With Major League Baseball adding an extra wild card team for the playoffs, it gave the Brewers a shot at grabbing one of two spots with their late surge. And they came awfully close, but they ran out of time.
If the Crew plays with confidence and with a modest team payroll, they can be special. The club realized that no matter how many high-paid players you have on your team, it doesn’t always translate into a postseason contender. Let’s hope that they can make progress with the players they have and acquired for less money.
Before passing judgment on the Milwaukee Bucks’ chance to make the playoffs this season, let’s go back to why they didn’t make it the last two years. Last season’s shortened schedule after the NBA lockout ended did no justice for them. The team completely fell apart in 2011 after setting a goal of winning 50 or more games. That momentum was supposed to carry over from their playoff appearance the year before.
So either the Bucks will make the playoffs or someone will get fired. That’s my wish for the team that they make the postseason. The time to make that push is now because half the team won’t be there next season.
The Marquette men’s basketball team won’t be in the Big East Conference in a couple of years. They recently agreed to form a new conference with other non-football schools. On top of that, don’t expect the Golden Eagles to play UWM, Wisconsin or UW-Green Bay in the future, which is a shame because all the state Div. I colleges should play non-conference games for bragging rights. I’m wishing for another Sweet Sixteen appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
My wish is for the Commissioner of MPS athletics, Bill Molbeck, to do away with the strict rule of barring ticket sales at the door at MPS high school gyms for basketball games. I understand the no cell phone use in the gym, but come on. Working people can’t get off work around lunchtime to buy a ticket at an MPS school to watch that game later on. Why not start selling tickets at the door again? They sell tickets at the door if playoff games are at MPS gyms because the WIAA requires that they do.
You don’t have to deal with that kind of policy at suburban schools. Most people are well-behaved at high school athletic events. Not everybody who attend athletic events at MPS facilities are a threat. Milwaukee police are there at every basketball event in MPS, so what’s the issue?
Speaking of MPS athletics, this is addressed to the football programs in the City Conference. Aren’t you tired of the city schools beating up on each other then get the crappola beat out of them in the playoffs by the suburban teams?
When the 20 or so youth football programs choose to run independent operations instead of hooking up with the high schools to build a bond and maintain a steady flow of eager youths well-trained and well-skilled to contribute at the high school level, then we’ll see some progress and a city team play in the state title game in Madison.
Another thing that might be hurting football in the city is the talent that slips away to these suburban schools due to open enrollment and school choice. City Conference is losing out to good football talent and that’s a shame.
My wish is that somebody needs to talk about starting feeder programs with the MPS high schools that still have football programs. That could increase numbers on those teams. I have about 100 other wishes but not enough space to list them. Those were the main areas that stood out as the old year is ushered out to bring in the New Year. But the question that will stick to me is why the Bucks or the Brewers or the Golden Eagles can’t play in the championship game in their respective sport again? It’s been a long time since that happened.
All I can do is sit back and see what the 2013 will bring for our local sports teams. Maybe some luck will fall our way for a change. Then we can claim a championship for our city and state.
Green Bay Packers take to the field and gear up for the second game of the season against the Chicago Bears. In the televised Thursday night game, the Packers defeated the Bears. (Reader submitted photo by Stephen Sellers)
Sparks On Sports
by Troy Sparks
Green Bay – Defeats by the Green Bay and Wisconsin football teams don’t happen very often and not on the same weekend. Both teams had high expectations entering the 2012 season. Last weekend, the Packers and Badgers looked to rebound from tough losses.
The green and gold didn’t have time to think about their loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Sept. 9, at Lambeau Field, where they were outplayed and outcoached in every aspect. As one Green Bay player said, the replacement officials had nothing to do with them losing the game to start the season at 0-1.
It was time to take out their frustrations on their longtime rivals the Chicago Bears, Sept. 13, at home. The 23-10 win gave the players extra motivation and the next four days off. If a Green Bay player can’t get the adrenaline flowing against a team in the oldest rival in NFL history, then that guy has no business being in a green and gold uniform, period.
Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler said the game against the Packers would be a dogfight. Cutler’s comments added fuel to the fire. His receiving sidekick in receiver Brandon Marshall was supposed to be a secret weapon that would destroy the Green Bay secondary. Marshall was a marked man all night and finished with two catches for 24 yards and no touchdowns. He dropped a TD pass in the end zone. The offense and defense clicked on all cylinders.
It was a complete turnaround from the San Francisco game. Overall, the 49ers had a better team than Chicago, and the Bears had to admit that they were not on the Packers’ level last year or this year. They got no style points in a 20-point win over the rebuilding Indianapolis Colts inWeek 1.
It seemed like everybody got in on the action for the Packers. Linebacker Clay Matthews got 3 ½ sacks. Cornerback Tramon Williams had two of Green Bay’s four interceptions. Safeties Charles Woodson and Jerron McMillian each had one pick. On offense, the Pack did enough in the ground game with running back Cedric Benson, who averaged 4.1 yards a carry in his 20 rushes.
What really got the Lambeau crowd excited were the two TDs that were unexpected. The Green Bay special teams studied the Bears’special teams for the last three years to see how they lined up in punt and kick block coverage. The result was a trick play on a fake field goal attempt by kicker Mason Crosby with punter TimMasthay holding. Masthay took the snap, flicked the ball to backup tight end Tom Crabtree, who ran 27 yards to the end zone for Green Bay’s first TD in the second quarter. If that play didn’t work, the wrath of head coach Mike McCarthy would have been at special teams coach Shawn Slocum.
Aging receiver Donald Driver, in his last year with Green Bay, the Dancing with the Stars champion and a forgotten man on the sideline, was in the right place at the right time when he hooked up with quarterback Aaron Rodgers for a 26-yarder and a TD in the fourth quarter that helped give the Pack a 23-3 lead.
Driver did the Cha-Cha in the end zone before doing the Lambeau Leap. Rodgers pointed at him as if to say, “That one was for you.”
Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers put the dogs on the Bears’ offense and didn’t call them off until the game was over. Chicago gained only 168 total yards to Green Bay’s 321. A long layover of 11 days should get the Packers ready for their first road game, Sept. 24, in Seattle, against the Seahawks’ rookie QB RussellWilson, who was the signal caller for the Badgers around this time last year.
The Badgers wished they had Wilson in Madison this year instead of in Seattle. Wilson brought excitement to the game, and they put non-conference opponents away by the second half. Bucky survived a 26-21 win at home against Northern Iowa and lost 10-7 at Oregon State in their first two games. Utah State came into Camp Randall Stadium looking for the upset, Sept. 15.
The team was trying to rebound from their last defeat and the firing of the offensive line coach in the same week. The O-line couldn’t get a big push to get one measly yard on third down a couple of times. They were 2 for 9 in the half. Those corn-fed guys couldn’t blame the fired O-line coach for 63 first half yards and not giving Montee Ball room to run.
In addition to that, starting quarterback Danny O’Brien lost a fumble, completed half of his 10 passes and got sacked. There were four penalties in the first half. TheAggies shocked the Badgers when they took a 14-3 halftime lead into the locker room. Something needed to be done in a hurry. Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema made a QB switch.
“The No. 1 reason I made the switch at quarterback was to protect the ball,” he said. “For us to win at Wisconsin, we can’t turn the ball over. I said in front of the group, ‘I’m gonna make a switch. I’m gonna pop (redshirt freshman) Joel (Stave) in to start the second half.’ We got to be better with ball security. I talked to Joel and moved forward.”
In the second half, Wisconsin’s defense played better. The Camp Randall crowd roared after Kenzel Doe returned a punt 82 yards to the house. Ball ran for a touchdown late in the third quarter and the Badgers led 16-14. They held Utah State at bay in the fourth quarter until the Aggies missed a 36-yard field goal that went right and missed the crossbar with seconds remaining in regulation. Badger Nation can’t stomach any nail-biting, single digit games from non-conference teams. What will happen to the Badgers in the final nine games of the season?
by Troy Sparks
Green Bay – Now that the games count, it was time for the Green Bay Packers to play some football. The good news for the Pack was that their first two games of the regular season were at home. Playing the San Francisco 49ers and the Chicago Bears five days apart is what you can call bad news. The Pack will either be 2-0, 1-1 or 0-2 at week’s end.
So which side of the coin would the green and gold come out on? That question was answered, Sept. 9. First up for Green Bay were the 49ers, which made it to the NFC Championship game last season.
The fans at Lambeau Field were ready to go with either a green or a gold T-shirt that were placed on their bleacher seats. The bigger question was, were the Green Bay players ready to play?
After Boyz-2-Men finished singing the national anthem and the four fighter jets flew over the stadium at the end of the song, it was time to find out if the Packers had that mojo to begin their journey to Super Bowl XLVII.
San Francisco sure didn’t feel welcome at Lambeau or by the replacement officials. The NFL used the substitutes for at least the first week of the season while the real officials were locked out by the league over a contract dispute.
Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers’ head coach, threw a fit when Aldon Smith took his helmet off after sacking Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers in the first quarter. That drew an unsportsmanlike conduct call.
Then Harbaugh challenged a pass completion from Rodgers to Jermichael Finley and lost the challenge and one of his team’s three timeouts of the half.
Harbaugh chewed out one of the sideline officials on a previous call and Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy let the other sideline official have an earful when Clay Matthews was called for a late hit on San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith in the second quarter. It was not a good day for replacement officials who worked every scheduled NFL game in Week 1.
“I think there were calls on both sides that were interesting,” Rodgers said. “A couple of plays were either no calls that should have been calls or not the correct call.”
Green Bay got redemption late in the first half when they took 6 minutes 30 seconds off the clock with the help of two defensive penalties on the 49ers’ defense.
The pass interference infraction on the visiting team in the end zone on an attempted reception by Finley gave the Pack the ball one yard from the end zone.
Finley was awarded with a touchdown pass from Rodgers that cut the San Francisco lead to 10-7. Two field goals by San Francisco kicker David Akers late in the half, including a 63-yarder that tied the NFL record, increased the halftime score to 16-7.
“It was kind of one of those miracles,” Akers said. “I didn’t think I hit it great enough. I made (a) 61- (yarder) in pregame and it felt pretty good if I could just get it there and strike it right.” The ball hit the bottom of the crossbar and crawled over the goalpost to end the first half scoring. Momentum kept shifting to San Francisco’s side in the third quarter. Most of the Lambeau crowd was quiet after they scored again to lead 23-7.
That was a wake-up call for the Packers, and they needed to turn the game around in a hurry. The same San Francisco team that came here two years ago and lost bad was ready to come back this time and give the Packers a taste of their own medicine.
The 49ers tried to be conservative by running the ball and running the clock down in the fourth quarter and had to punt on fourth down. Randall Cobb woke up the crowd with his 75-yard punt return for a TD for Green Bay.
The officials were so mixed up that one of them threw a flag. Another official said there was no flag.
Harbaugh’s blood pressure really boiled after that play stood, pending a review because he thought Cobb stepped out of bounds at the 49ers’ 2.
The play was ruled a TD and Harbaugh made a profane comment a afterwards.
Green Bay’s 2-point conversion with 11:16 left in the game brought the San Fran lead down to eight at 23-15.
Rodgers’ interception on the next possession resulted in another TD for the 49ers and a 30-15 deficit. He came back and got a big play from receiver James Jones, who caught a TD pass a couple of plays later. Did Green Bay have enough left in the tank to come back from 30-22 and possibly tie the game and force overtime?
The Packers got the ball back with 3:30 left, no timeouts and 84 yards away from the end zone. They would get no further than the San Francisco 49-yard line as the 49ers held on to win by that same score. To paraphrase Vince Lombardi, “We didn’t lose the game. We ran out of time.”
For the Packers, that wasn’t the way they wanted to start the 2012 season after winning their first 14 games last year. “It’s one game,” Rodgers said. “(San Francisco) is a team that was in the NFC Championship last year. It’s a good team.
Hopefully we see them down the road in the playoffs.”
Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota all won their first game of the season, and that left the Packers at the bottom of the division. All three teams can’t wait to get a piece of the green and gold.