Packers' special teams breakdowns help put Chargers in control
CARSON, Calif. - The Green Bay Packers had a feeling the Los Angeles Chargers were going to try and create a play, up 12-0 and with the Packers punting from their own 13-yard line. To that point Sunday, the Chargers had dominated the stat sheet but not the scoreboard, and with 7 minutes, 16 seconds to go in the third quarter the situation begged for a rush on punter JK Scott.
“They loaded the box and they had a good scheme,” long snapper Hunter Bradley said after the Packers' 26-11 loss. “They were able to spread us out and they executed. It’s props to them.
“They had shown a look similar to that and we were prepared for it, but they kind of made a few tweaks to it and they kind of spread it out wider and they made it hard. On the inside everybody is on an island when you’re that far out. We just have to watch film and make corrections, but it was just a good scheme.”
With the rush, Los Angeles linebacker Drue Thornhill got to the outside shoulder of Green Bay’s B.J. Goodson as the Chargers’ Derek Watt gave Goodson an extra shove on the inside shoulder. Thornhill found a gap as Allen Lazard and Kyler Fackrell stepped out to engage two Chargers on the right edge of the formation.
“There was definitely some adjustments we could have made, but not pointing any fingers, made the adjustments on the sideline, which is what we should have done because like (Bradley) said, we saw it before,” Goodson said. “We were expecting the rush but also expecting a different blocking scheme.”
Scott got the punt off, but it hit Thornhill in the face and traveled only eight yards out of bounds.
“When I’m out there I’m just really watching the ball and getting the ball off,” Scott said. “We’ll see, maybe I could have gotten it off quicker but we’ll have to look at it on film and see really what happened.”
Given the ball at the Packers’ 27, the Chargers scored six plays later to go up 19-0 and effectively put a sleeper hold on the game.
“We’ve been so good this season at the little stuff,” Packers safety Adrian Amos said. “It hasn’t come to harm us as much. But, we see we messed up today and we just got beat today. That’s what it was.”
Down 19-3 in the fourth quarter, another special teams miscue resulted in a Chargers touchdown when the Packers held on three plays from their own 6, forcing a short field goal and a 22-3 lead with 10:32 to go. But cornerback Tony Brown was called offside, and the additional yard gained by the penalty led Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn to send his offense back out onto the field.
“I’ll check the film — I don’t believe I was offside,” Brown said. “I feel it was one of those human error, the naked eye, I feel like it was one of those things he’s from the sideline, he’s looking at me and the ball at the same time. It might have been human error. I haven’t checked the film yet, but if I was offside then I just gotta keep watching the ball.
“It’s a timing thing. With referees there’s always going to be an element of human error so I can’t fault them at all. I just gotta check the film and move back or let it be known before that I get off like how I do.”
Melvin Gordon then plunged in for the TD, putting L.A. up 26-3 instead.
“That would have been the critical stop if we got that stop,” Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark said. “We gotta take pride in that. If they want to go for it on fourth down, take the points off the board and be like ‘We’re on the one, we’re going to get in.’ I think we did, we just didn’t capitalize.”
The Packers finally found the end zone after that and pulled within 26-11, but on the ensuing kickoff the Packers tried to run a play to create a sudden change in their favor with the live ball. But, Brown was flagged twice — one for an illegal formation and one for being offside
“That’s not a hard situation — I was very eager to make a play on the field and on the ball,” Brown said. “They brought us back because they said the ball wasn’t ready to be put in play so I was very eager. I just gotta be more disciplined and stay behind the ball.”
Mason Crosby hit his only field goal attempt, from 54 yards, and new returner Tremon Smith felt he was just one block away from breaking a long return — though he did have one for 36 yards that set up Crosby’s field goal. But the two plays that led to 14 Los Angeles points were tough to swallow in a 15-point loss.
“I’ll tell you this man. It was a wake-up call for us, man,” Packers linebacker Za’Darius Smith said. “Because we went 7-1. And I don’t feel like it — but some people probably got comfortable in their situations. To lose a game shows a lot and brings us back to earth to where we need to be at at work each and every.”