Packers receiver Donald Driver dejectedly walks off the field after a 23-20 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins at Lambeau Field on Sunday. Corey Wilson/Press-Gazette
Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter (5) celebrates his game-winning field goal in overtime against the Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette
Dolphins 23, Packers 20
Miami 7 3 3 7 3 — 23
Green Bay 10 0 0 10 0 — 20
GB — FG Crosby 46, 11:58.
Mia — Bess 2 pass from Henne (D.Carpenter kick), 6:52.
GB — Jennings 86 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick), 1:03.
Mia — FG D.Carpenter 53, :20.
Mia — FG D.Carpenter 41, 7:42.
GB — FG Crosby 26, 10:45.
Mia — Fasano 22 pass from Henne (D.Carpenter kick), 5:20.
GB — Rodgers 1 run (Crosby kick), :13.
Mia — FG D.Carpenter 44, 9:01.
A — 70,815.
First downs 26 16
Total Net Yards 381 359
Rushes-yards 39-150 21-76
Passing 231 283
Punt Returns 2-23 3-7
Kickoff Returns 6-140 5-99
Interceptions Ret. 1-0 1-0
Comp-Att-Int 23-39-1 18-33-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 0-0 5-30
Punts 4-41.8 5-38.0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 4-30 7-45
Time of Possession 37:56 28:03
RUSHING — Miami, R.Brown 19-73, Williams 13-64, Henne 2-9, Polite 4-7, Hartline 1-(minus 3). Green Bay, Jackson 12-53, Rodgers 4-14, Kuhn 5-9.
PASSING — Miami, Henne 23-39-1-231. Green Bay, Rodgers 18-33-1-313.
RECEIVING — Miami, Marshall 10-127, Bess 5-37, Hartline 4-44, Fasano 1-22, R.Brown 1-2, Polite 1-0, Williams 1-(minus 1). Green Bay, Jennings 6-133, Nelson 4-64, Driver 3-31, Jackson 3-29, Crabtree 1-33, Quarless 1-23.
MISSED FIELD GOALS — None.
Packers linebacker Brady Poppinga: "We've got a deep team, a bunch of competitors. It's going to take a lot to take us down. It's just disappointing because it's two wins that very well could have been ours, and that's the hard part. We've lost two games in overtime, two in a row, but we've got a bunch of fighters in this locker room."
Packers defensive end B.J. Raji: "We're 3-3; we're .500. We're not excellent, but obviously we're not terrible. At the end of the day, no one really cares about overtimes, getting blown out, getting beat by one. It's a loss. What need to do is find a way to get out of this hole and find a way to fight out of it."
Dolphins coach Tony Sparano on his offensive game plan: "It was our plan to run the ball the entire game, and we did. We were able to run the ball pretty effectively today. I thought the guys up front played a really good game. We were physical in the run game, they protected the quarterback well, and I thought that helped us get a little more balanced."
Sparano on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers: "It's hard to go after Aaron out there. In other words, you don't want to blitz him too much. He gets out of the pocket, he extends the play, and he's one of the best in the business when he does those things. You've got to try to keep him in the pocket."
Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne on winning on the road: "It's great. After two weeks of losing it was good to get a win against a good team. It really shows what we were trying to accomplish on our week off. There were some things out there that weren't going our way, but we just kept fighting as a team."
Packers receiver Greg Jennings on being only 3-3: "As far as the season goes, we've got a little time, but time is of the essence. Every win is important, every loss is important. When it comes down to it every year these are the type of games – this week, last week, Chicago, the type of games you look back and say, man if we could have got that one, where would have possibly, potentially been?"
Joe Philbin, the Packers' offensive coordinator, on how to turn around the team's spotty play on offense this season: "Good old-fashioned put your nose to the grindstone, keep working, stay on course, keep the faith, keep practicing hard, things will turn. I'll bet if you look statistically where we are today compared to the other years, we're certainly a little behind, I don't know that we're dramatically behind, but we're certainly behind where we've been. The reasons being the negative things that have been plaguing us and slowing us down."
Where is the offensive juggernaut that was supposed to be the 2010 Green Bay Packers?
Nowhere through the first six weeks of the season, at least not when it matters most, such as getting into the end zone when there’s a chance to open a decent lead or driving for the game-winning score in overtime.
That was the story Sunday at sold-out Lambeau Field, where the Packers’ attrition-diminished defense held up well enough to win but where the offense directed by coach Mike McCarthy failed to come through in a 23-20 loss to the gritty Miami Dolphins.
“It’s hard to lose, period,” McCarthy said. “It’s hard to lose home games. To lose overtime games — particularly disappointed in the offense, in our production there with the (overtime) series.”
The loss is the latest of several early-season letdowns on a schedule that was set up for a great start in the parity-filled NFC.
But instead of building a nice cushion for the meat of their schedule, the Packers are sitting in the middle of the pack at 3-3, one game behind 4-2 Chicago in the NFC North Division with a critical game against rival Minnesota coming up this week.
The Packers are hardly at the breaking point at this early stage. They have personnel relief on the way, assuming their best defensive player, outside linebacker Clay Matthews, can return soon from the hamstring injury that sidelined him Sunday. Safety Atari Bigby and cornerback Al Harris also are eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list this week and possibly will be ready to play in the next game or two.
But the Packers also must be concerned that their offense hasn’t had much rhythm since losing halfback Ryan Grant in the opener, and that their playmaking has been reduced further without tight end Jermichael Finley, who had knee surgery last week and is out indefinitely.
“It’s disappointing,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said, “but I think you’ve got to be realistic. We’re a game back (of Chicago). We still have four division games. We’re getting, hopefully, two studs back on defense, three if you count Clay. We need those guys back. We need to be at full force.
“No excuses, obviously, you’ve got to give Miami credit. They came out in a tough place to play and they did a nice job. But this was a game we looked at as big momentum for us. Win this game, get Al, Atari, maybe Mark (Tauscher at right tackle) and Clay, get those guys back and get rolling here, and we just didn’t get the job done.”
A glance at the stat sheet hardly tells Sunday’s story. The Packers put up 359 yards in total offense, which usually is a solid day’s work.
But aside from an 86-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings in the first quarter and the clutch 69-yard touchdown drive in the final 5½ minutes that forced overtime, the Packers’ offense was underwhelming for the second straight week and the third time in three defeats.
Though Rodgers threw for 313 yards, he had only an 84.5 passer rating, completed barely more than half his passes (18-for-33, 54.5 completion percentage) and was sacked five times. His bomb to Jennings was pinpoint, and he made two big plays in that game-tying drive — a scramble and across-the-body throw to Jordy Nelson for a 24-yard gain that converted a third down, and a dart to Jennings for 20 yards that converted a fourth down.
But those kinds of plays, which seemed almost routine the second half of last year, have been relatively infrequent in 2010.
Instead, there have been missed chances. Such as late in the third quarter, when Jennings got behind the safeties on a post pattern but Rodgers instead threw over Nelson’s head on a shorter out pattern to the left. Or early in the fourth quarter, when Nelson couldn’t make a tough outstretched catch on a third down inside the 10, leaving the Packers with a field goal instead of a touchdown. Or Miami outside linebacker Cameron Wake beating rookie right tackle Bryan Bulaga for two drive-snuffing sacks, one on a third down halfway through the fourth quarter, and again in overtime when the Packers had their chance to escape with a tough win but instead went three-and-out.
“Too many miscues,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “Negative play, sack, penalty, drop — maybe not all of them today, but over the course of the six weeks there’s been too much of that. Too many penalties — one week it was 10 penalties at Chicago. One week it was eight drops at Washington. It was four or five sacks today. That’s not a formula for a high-octane attack.”
The Packers weren’t able to make Miami pay for its pedestrian quarterback, Chad Henne (23-for-39, 231 yards, 82.3 passer rating), who is too scattershot to be a playmaker.
On the stat sheet, it was as rough a day for the Packers’ defense, which gave up 381 yards and allowed Miami offensive coordinator Dan Henning to grind the clock with a conservative game play featuring two physical backs in Ronnie Brown (19 carries for 73 yards) and Ricky Williams (13 for 64).
With the constant threat of the run and Henning’s max-protect calls against blitzes, the Packers faced an especially difficult matchup with Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall, who used his Terrell Owens-type size and speed to make 10 catches for 127 yards.
Nevertheless, even without Matthews and Pickett, the Packers kept Miami’s score down, as it did last week in holding Washington to 13 points in regulation before losing in overtime. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ crew also came through in overtime after Miami won the coin flip and stopped the Dolphins with a three-and-out when cornerback Charles Woodson and safety Nick Collins converged to deflect a post pass to Marshall.
But after the Packers’ own three-and-out, Tim Masthay again hit a bad punt in the clutch, this time a 37-yarder that set up Miami at its 48, or only about two first downs from the potential game-winning field goal. Williams and Brown combined for 18 of the 26 yards that set up Dan Carpenter’s 44-yard kick.
“We’ve got to figure something out offensively and help our defense out a little bit,” Rodgers said. “I think they’ve played well enough to win the last two weeks, and we just haven’t gotten the job done. Twenty and 13 points (for the Packers), and when your defense is holding them to 16 points last week and 23 this week, we feel like we should win those games.”