DETROIT — This will go down as the worst Green Bay Packers performance in coach Mike McCarthy’s eight-year head coaching tenure.
There is no way to put a positive spin on the Packers’ 40-10 abomination against the Detroit Lions on Thursday at Ford Field.
It’s one thing to lose, it’s another to not come close to being competitive.
The Packers’ pathetic attempt to play the game of football was embarrassing, and no one in the gloomy locker room afterward was about to argue.
“Everything right there, national TV, Thanksgiving Day, an opportunity to get back into first place in the division, and we came out and did that,” said receiver Jordy Nelson. “It’s embarrassing.”
What the Packers did was lay a giant egg for the entire football world to see. Their offense struggled to pick up first downs, let alone score points, and their defense offered little resistance to a Lions attack that rolled up 30 first downs and 561 yards.
“It’s embarrassing,” said Packers guard Josh Sitton. “We got our (expletive) beat. Plain and simple. They smacked us today. There’s no doubt about it. I’ve been playing this game a long time. This is one of the worst beats I’ve ever been a part of.”
The Packers finished the miserable month of November with an 0-4-1 record since Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone.
When the month started, the Packers were battling for the best record in the NFC. Now they look like one of the worst teams in the league and are on the brink of playoff elimination.
Sure, Rodgers could return next week and provide a much-needed spark. But it might be too little, too late for a team that has gone in the tank since its star player went down.
The next-man-up theory clearly doesn’t work when it comes to the quarterback position, as Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn have proven.
Flynn had that deer-in-the-headlights look against the Lions. When he wasn’t taking a safety, fumbling or throwing an interception, he was running for his life and getting crushed by the Lions’ fierce pass rush in what became the Packers’ most inept offensive display under McCarthy.
“I’m not particularly happy, and it starts obviously with my performance,” McCarthy said. “That’s not the type of football we ever want to go out and play. We got drilled today.”
McCarthy seems powerless to stop the month-long slide that began with Rodgers’ injury, and no player has stepped up to fill the void.
A bad loss like this could shake the Packers’ confidence beyond repair, although players seemed convinced that wouldn’t happen.
“I don’t know, I’m not shaken,” said cornerback Tramon Williams. “I don’t think the guys in this locker room are shaken, either. We have a good group of guys.”
Perhaps the only thing the Packers have salvaged over the past month is team unity. It’s a group that doesn’t point fingers or cause dissension even in the midst of adversity.
“It really, really hurts,” said safety Morgan Burnett of the lopsided loss. “It sucks. ... Everybody feels the same way. You don’t like to lose. Everyone has a competitive spirit, but I know for sure guys are not going to give up. Guys are going to keep fighting.”
But at some point those good intentions must translate into winning performances on the field, and that isn’t happening.
It’s as if the Packers have been treading water until Rodgers returns. But in their loss to the Lions, they look like they’re sinking.
“You can’t rely on one man to carry your team,” Burnett said. “It takes a team to work together and get the job done, and that’s what we have to do.”
The Packers have been preaching that message for the past five games, but instead of getting better, things are getting worse.
Following their Thanksgiving debacle, the Packers are in such a mess that maybe not even Rodgers can save their season.