Offense matches franchise mark for first-half scoring

Eric Goska
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Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) celebrates with his teammates after making a field goal in the first quarter during Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Points were at a premium at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The single touchdown and two field goals the Packers tendered Sunday wouldn't suffice in most NFL games. Not surprisingly, such a meager output had no chance against a charged-up Bills' defense determined to test its mettle against the much publicized, top-flight offense that touched down in its backyard.

Green Bay struggled across the board in the pratfall that was a 21-13 loss to Buffalo. Offense, defense and special teams all contributed to snuff out the team's five-game winning streak and make the road to the playoffs all the more difficult.

Still the team did post enough first-half points to equal a franchise record. The 10 it registered gave it 286, which ties the 2011 club for most in the opening two quarters in one season.

That Green Bay got the record says far more about the way it conducted business over the first 13 games of the season than it does about anything accomplished in Buffalo. The litany of mistakes the Packers made there is nearly as long as the 75-yard punt return for a touchdown that Bills' running back Marcus Thigpen engineered in the first quarter.

But one stinker — as malodorous as it was — can't diminish the fact that this offense — when in sync — is one of the most prolific of the 16-game era. Its scoring prowess compares favorably with some of the best since 1978.

The Packers learned early that running up the score as they've done often wasn't going to happen. Aaron Rodgers and the offense sputtered to three first-half three-and-outs. Tim Masthay punted five times in the opening two quarters — not including two others that didn't count because of Green Bay penalties.

Rodgers was off target. He completed 8 of 24 passes for 70 yards and a miserable first-half passer rating of 42.4.

Tight end Andrew Quarless dropped Rodgers' first throw for what would have been a first down. Mason Crosby's 53-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter was blocked by defensive end Mario Williams.

Twice Green Bay had to call time out to avoid delay of game penalties. Had those clock stoppers not been squandered, the Packers might have used them to get the ball back late in the first half when the Bills were bottled up near their own end zone.

Despite the cavalcade of mistakes, Green Bay twice mounted scoring drives. Crosby kicked a 45-yard field goal to cap the first advance which was highlighted by Rodgers' 19-yard scramble on third down. Eddie Lacy barreled into the end zone to close out the second, a 7-play, 80-yard effort early in the second quarter.

With those 10 points, Green Bay took up residence among the Top 10 first-half scoring teams of the last 37 years. It moved past the 2004 Colts (277), 1994 49ers (279), 1983 Redskins (280) and 2009 Patriots (282) into a tie for seventh place with the Packers of 2011.

The undefeated Patriots of 2007 top the list with 333 points.

More impressively, the Packers have outscored their opponents by 150 points in the first half of games. That differential is the seventh best since 1978 and the greatest in team history.

It places the team amid some heavyweights of note. Each of the six teams with better margins – the 2007 Patriots (+196), 2001 Rams (+169), 1999 Rams (+159), 1998 Broncos (+159), 1984 49ers (+152) and 1983 Redskins (+152) reached the Super Bowl.

Mentioning the Super Bowl after a loss like the one to Buffalo seems foolish. But if the 1984 49ers, 1998 Broncos and 2001 Rams could shake off a low-scoring loss to reach the game's biggest stage, hope remains for Green Bay despite the ugly that was their latest showing.

Extra point

Crosby's 45-yard field goal gave Green Bay a 3-0 lead. It also pushed the Packers' team record first-quarter point total to 137. Only four teams since 1978 — the 1986 Vikings (151), 1998 Broncos (144), 2001 Rams and 1998 Vikings (135) – scored more.

A slew in two

Packers teams that scored the most points in the first two quarters of games in a season.

Pts. Years Record

286 2014 10-4

286 2011 15-1

269 2009 11-5

267 1983 8-8

241 2003 10-6

233 1997 13-3

229 1995 11-5

— aegoska@sbcglobal.net

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