Packers waiting too long to get going

Eric Goska
For Press-Gazette Media
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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau FIeld.

Perhaps it’s time to swap out those five little letters of Aaron Rodgers’ for something more appropriate.

Can you spell P-A-N-I-C?

Emotions ran high Sunday as Green Bay lost its third consecutive game, this one a stunning 18-16 pratfall to the Lions. Boos greeted the Packers on more than one occasion as the team’s run of 12 straight regular-season wins at Lambeau Field came to an abrupt halt.

Rodgers, who told all of Packerland to R-E-L-A-X after Green Bay opened 1-2 last season, was anything but relaxed during the fourth quarter Sunday. In fact, the quarterback was busier than any passer in team history during the final 15 minutes.

Packers receivers not helping Rodgers

Stumbling in Denver and Carolina is always a possibility, however unpleasant. Coming up short against Detroit at home was unthinkable.

The Lions had won one game. They couldn’t run the ball. They hadn’t won in Wisconsin since 1991. Oh, the times they are a-changing.

For a second straight week, the Packers’ offense waited until the fourth quarter to come alive. For a second straight week, Green Bay’s last-ditch efforts died in the closing minutes.

At Carolina, it was Rodgers’ interception on fourth down with 1:54 left that extinguished the rally. Against the Lions, it was Mason Crosby’s miss on a 52-yard field goal attempt as time expired that closed the door.

History suggests this is no way to win games. Firing pass after pass in the fourth quarter to make up for an offense that has idled through three quarters rarely leads to victory.

Ask Lynn Dickey, Randy Wright or Don Majkowski. They tried and failed.

Only Brett Favre has attempted 20 or more passes in the fourth quarter and won for Green Bay. Perhaps it’s because he had ample practice.

Since 1954, eight Packers quarterbacks have hit or exceeded that milestone of 20: Favre (12 times), Rodgers (3), Majkowski (2), Wright (2), Tobin Rote, Dickey, Blair Kiel and Matt Flynn. The team went 3-19-1 in those games.

Rodgers is the first to throw 20 or more passes in the fourth quarter in back-to-back games. At Carolina, he completed 11-of-21 for 162 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Against the Lions, he was 17-of-29 for 185 yards and two scores.

Rodgers, Packers 'trying to do too much'

The 29 attempts is a team record. Kiel lofted 28 fourth-quarter passes at the Seahawks in a 20-14 loss at Milwaukee County Stadium on Dec. 9, 1990.

Rodgers began his assault with 13:10 to play. For only the second time since becoming a starter, he passed for more yards in the fourth quarter (185) than in the first three combined (148).

The Packers had the ball four times. Rodgers drove them to touchdowns on the middle two possessions.

He completed seven of 10 passes for 80 yards on the first drive. Mixed in were a 20-yarder to Randall Cobb on third-and-12, a 32-yarder to Jared Abbrederis and a four-yard TD strike to tight end Richard Rodgers.

He completed 6-of-8 for 61 yards on the second. A six-yard toss to Richard Rodgers converted third-and-short, and an 11-yard dart to tight end Justin Perillo cut the score to 18-16 with 32 seconds to go.

Rodgers compiled a passer rating of 131.9 on the two drives combined. He posted a lowly 63.3 on his other 43 throws.

After rookie Damarius Randall recovered Crosby’s onside kick, Rodgers flipped five passes, completing two. His 3-yarder to Davante Adams set up Crosby’s ill-fated field-goal attempt.

Time to panic? No. Time to fix what’s ailing this offense.

Green Bay needs far more than three points through three quarters (as it managed against the Lions) if it hopes to avoid becoming the fourth team since 1970 to start 6-0 (2009 Broncos; 2003 Vikings; 1978 Redskins) and miss the playoffs.

Sitton: Packers' offense 'too predictable'

Extra points

James Starks gained five yards on the Packers’ only run in the fourth quarter.

Rodgers threw for 146 yards in the fourth quarter of a 27-16 loss to the Cowboys on Sept. 21, 2008. It was the first time as a starter he surpassed his three-quarter total (144) in the last 15 minutes.

Favre posted wins against the 49ers (23-20; Oct. 14, 1996), Raiders (28-24; Sept. 12, 1999) and Texans (16-13; Nov. 21, 2004) while throwing 24, 20 and 22 passes, respectively, in the fourth quarter.

High Flying in the Fourth

Since 1954, Packers who threw the most fourth-quarter passes in a game.

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