LANDOVER, Md. — Donald Driver takes losing hard, and he was in no mood to sugarcoat the Green Bay Packers’ 16-13 overtime defeat against the Washington Redskins on Sunday at FedEx Field.
“I’ll be the first one to say that I lost the game,” said a dejected Driver, who dropped four passes that contributed to a sluggish offensive performance.
But to lay the blame for the Packers’ bitter-tasting loss on Driver wouldn’t be right. His miscues were only part of why the Packers suffered their fifth consecutive overtime loss under coach Mike McCarthy.
Despite suffering a rash of injuries, the Packers had a chance to prevail if not for an agonizing assortment of blunders.
“The one thing we know is that we let this one slip away,” Driver said.
Mason Crosby missed a pair of second-half field goals. An Aaron Rodgers overtime pass thrown behind Greg Jennings was intercepted and set up the Redskins’ winning field goal. Protection breakdowns led to three Redskins second-half sacks, and a harried Rodgers couldn’t get the offense in sync.
But the mistake-prone Packers set the tone much earlier than that. On their second play from scrimmage, Jermichael Finley was lost for the game with a leg injury when he attempted to tackle Redskins safety Kareem Moore, who recovered Donald Lee’s fumble.
“I ain’t a defensive player,” said Finley, who regrets trying to make the tackle. “I shouldn’t have done it.”
It’s safe to say that had Lee not fumbled, Finley wouldn’t have gotten hurt, and the Packers’ offense would have been much more efficient.
But injury excuses are for losers, and the added losses of defensive starters Clay Matthews and Ryan Pickett won’t generate much sympathy.
Although the Packers produced 427 total yards and held a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter, they failed time after time to make crucial plays and put the Redskins away. They were an atrocious 2-for-13 in third-down conversions and failed to score on their final seven possessions.
“I think we all know that yards don’t mean anything,” McCarthy said. “It’s about points. We put 13 points on the board and that’s a credit to Washington’s defense. They kept us out of the end zone. They get the credit.”
The Redskins also deserve credit for coming to life on offense in the final quarter. Even avid Redskins fans booed the home team when the offense punted on seven of its first eight possessions. But as he usually does against the Packers, quarterback Donovan McNabb produced a back-breaking play, this time a 48-yard touchdown strike to Anthony Armstrong.
That set the flustered Packers back on their heels, and they never recovered.
The injury outbreak alone didn’t beat the Packers. In a performance eerily similar to a loss two weeks ago against the Chicago Bears, the Packers beat themselves in so many ways. Penalties, turnovers, dropped passes, missed tackles and blown assignments killed their chances.
“We all got to look at ourselves in the mirror right now knowing that we let two games slip away that we know we should have won,” Driver said. “That’s the part right now that’s going to hurt us because instead of being 5-0, we’re 3-2.”
The Packers should have won but didn’t, and there’s no badge of honor for that.
Getting key playmakers like Finley and Matthews healthy will be crucial to their success for the rest of the season. But the Packers must also find a way to rid themselves of their error-prone ways.
Mike Vandermause is sports editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.