SEATTLE – In a quiet visitor’s locker room at CenturyLink Field, too often quiet for the Green Bay Packers when they occupy it, there was a sense that they have reached the tipping point. A 27-24 loss to the Seahawks after holding leads of 14-3, 21-17 and 24-20 dropped them to 4-5-1 overall.
“We just gotta finish games,” defensive tackle Kenny Clark said. “We had a thousand times to put that game away. We got to put that game away. I don’t know. It’s frustrating. It’s tough.”
It’s not over, not with three division and five conference games left.
“It’s not going to do anything to worry,” defensive back Tramon Williams said. “Concerned? Maybe a little bit. I’m not going to lie to you. Maybe a little bit. But am I optimistic? I’m very optimistic that we can still get the job done. It’s not going to be easy as you all know but I’m optimistic that we can get the job done.”
The optimism is founded in sporadic success in all three phases. Even in defeat — all five of which have come on the road — they find moments to hang on to. Thursday night at CenturyLink Field had those. Three sacks and four tackles for loss from Kyler Fackrell. Davante Adams with 10 catches for 166 yards. Aaron Jones averaging 6.4 yards per touch.
“We have to hit that mark at the end of the day,” left tackle David Bakhtiari said. “Like I’ve said week in and week out, the game’s all about momentum. There’s going to be a lot of momentum shifts and you’ve got to be able to ride your wave and when you’re hitting you’ve got to be able to capitalize on it. Then it’s situational ball — we’ve got to be able to capitalize when we have situations, and every single time we end up in this little lull, we have not made the most of that situation. Situations are going the other way, and that’s what’s tough. We’ve got to be able to correct it, fix it and move on.”
That’s going 3-for-11 on third down. It’s going 1-for-2 in the red zone on offense and allowing the Seahawks to go 3-for-5. It’s a missed throw. It’s a missed field goal or untimely penalty. Or an overturned call that goes the other way, like an incompletion being ruled instead as a 27-yard completion on 3rd-and-7, which led to a Seattle field goal in the fourth quarter.
“Unfortunately, I mean that’s kind of reared its ugly head for the entirety of the year,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “We’ve had a number of teams — good teams — on the ropes, and unfortunately just giving up too many big plays. Haven’t been able to make the big plays in crunch time to seal the victory. So it’s difficult. Obviously a difficult point with where we’re at in the season. It’s going to be real uphill sledding to have a chance at the playoffs, but all we can do is just get back to work. We were that close, but unfortunately in this business, close doesn’t count. We have to get the wins, and we’ve got to start in Minnesota, which is going to be another tough one.”
The Packers lost by two in Los Angeles, eight in Detroit and were tied at 17 in New England before the wheels came off. Now, a three-point loss in Seattle.
Because of that, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Clark said that the team believes in one another, that they are a good team. Yet they can’t get over the hump. Bakhtiari called it the launch point, where successes stack and the lulls shallow out. They haven’t gotten there yet.
They must win their first game on the road in Minnesota just to even their record and reset their season with three of their final five games at Lambeau Field.
But as they teeter on the fulcrum of their season, the lulls need to give way to the moment, the game, that launches them.
“Of course there’s hope,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “Of course we believe in each other. It’s going to take one galvanizing moment, whether that’s a speech or at practice or something happens in the game, something’s got to get this thing going. I thought we had moments tonight where that was the way we were going. The defense, a lot of injuries. Offensively, we lost Jimmy (Graham). Guys battled. Nobody gave up hope. We just didn’t play well enough when we had to play well enough.”