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Monday, Nov. 18, 2013

Tolzien's Got the Arm, But Interceptions Prove Costly as Packers Fall 27-13

Looking Pack: Week 11

scott zolzein green bay packers giants 2013
Jim Biever / Packers.com
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As two of the oldest franchises in professional football, the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants have played their fair share of meaningful games. Curly Lambeau- and Steve Owen-led squads vied for some of the first NFL Championships in the 1920s and ’30s. Vince Lombardi led Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung to titles over Y.A. Tittle and Frank Gifford’s Giants in 1961 and 1962 during throes of a Packers dynasty. New York triumphed over the Packers (and wind chill) in the 2007 NFC Championship to send Brett Favre home a loser in his final Lambeau Field home game. Favre’s replacement toppled the Giants 45-17 at the Meadowlands in 2010 en route to the Super Bowl.

Yes, there has been no shortage of memorable contests between these longtime foes. But the Scott Tolzien-led Packers falling to the 3-6 Giants 27-13 isn’t among them.

Making his first career start (and playing only his second NFL game), the temporary Tolzien era started slowly with a couple three-and-out drives. Conversely, Eli Manning and company had less trouble in the early going, with a 26-yard Manning to Reuben Randle touchdown strike in the second G-Men possession and a Josh Brown field goal the third time down the field.

When Mike McCarthy took focus off the struggling run game on the third Packers possession, it resulted in Mason Crosby chip shot to keep Green Bay close at a 10-3 margin. However, the Giants offense—which has struggled mightily for the majority of the season—had little trouble carving apart a Packers defensive unit that was equal parts depleted and ineffective, going up 13-3 with another Brown upright-splitting late in the first half. Fortunately for the Packers, Crosby righted the wrongs that led to two missed field goals a week ago and kept Green Bay with a touchdown, by way of a 57-yard kick as the second quarter clock expired.

That would be the closest the Packers would get to keeping pace with the Giants, as the second half spelled disaster for Tolzien. While the Badgers alumnus tossed an impressive 339 yards through the air (including some well-placed connections with Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin, who combined for 208 receiving yards), the young playcaller put the “Green” in Green Bay with a trio of foolish interceptions. The worst of them saw a ball being tossed right into the mitts of Jason Pierre-Paul, who jogged 24 yards to put the Giants up 27-13 late.

While Tolzien’s trifecta of miscues certainly proved prominent in Green Bay’s third consecutive loss, the Packers defense continued to disappoint, with a smattering of loose coverage, missed tackles and an inability to stop the Giants on fourth down… twice. Even when accounting for the various injuries the corps has sustained this season, defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ days in Green Bay could be close to numbered. Excluding scoring the sole Packers touchdown, Eddie Lacy was also a non-factor—a rarity, when healthy—with a paltry 27 yards rushing on 14 carries (1.9-yard average).

Let’s hope this rocky road performance with an inexperienced QB at the helm doesn’t spill into next week, when the Pack hosts a dreadful Minnesota Vikings squad in a similar state of quarterback flux.

 

Player Of The Game (Offense) – Jordy Nelson
Sure, Lacy was the only Packer to find the end zone, and Tolzien threw for more than 300 yards. However, Lacy’s long on the day was just five yards. And 300 yards doesn’t have much luster when it appears beside three interceptions. Nelson’s eight grabs for 117 yards is an admirable stat without an accompanying blemish.

 

Player Of The Game (Defense/Special Teams) – Tramon Williams
Following a rough game last week—in which he tipped a ball into DeSean Jackson’s hands for a long touchdown—Williams was among the few Packers defenders who stepped up Sunday. The veteran corner had eight tackles (one for loss) and an acrobatic interception amid an otherwise substandard defensive showing from his counterparts.

 

Up Next: Hosting Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, Nov. 24 at noon.

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