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Buffalo 27 Packers 7: Not as Bad as the Score Would Indicate

by Jerry Gilbert
Take away reprehensible play by coverage special teams and some stupid penalties, and the game was not so bad. Take away dropped passes and the offense could have scored some more points. Bottom line: it was a pre-season loss that demonstrated some glaring need for improvement, but there were also some bone jarring hits and some excellent play by rookies. It was a setback in some respects, but also a game to build upon.

On the successful opening drive, new guards William Whitticker and Adrian Klemm fared well enough against outstanding defensive tackles to create room to run and time to pass. On that and later drives, third string tight end Ben Steele showed some ability to block. The running backs gashed a Bills defense that had one week earlier held Indianapolis to a negative seven yards rushing.

On defense, the positive sign was the hitting. Reserve linebacker Paris Lenon pancaked a running back. The Buffalo receivers will remember the rookie safeties Nick Collins and Marviel Underwood. It has been years since Packer defenders have hit like that. Much has been said about a defense that played with its back to the wall as special teams coverage units allowed returns to around the Packer 30 yard line. More needs to b said about the last of the three seriesthe Packer defense held the Bills to a minus seven yards

Thee were also the plays that should have been game changers. After the Favre touchdown drive, the Packer kick-off coverage unit created a fumble. Unfortunately, rookie Roy Mannings offside penalty nullified the turnover. When Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila sacked the quarterback for a safety, the play was wiped out by a defensive holding call on Hannibal Navies. Those 2 plays represent a 10-20 point change of fortune. Take away 10-14 Bills points and add the same number of Packer points, plus 2 more for a safety, and the game would look very different.

Nothing said here should distract from justifiable criticism of the pathetic play in some respects. James Lee and Donnell Washington are not ready for prime time. The Packers need Grady Jackson. Every member of the special team needs his head examined, along with a gut check. Reserve wide receivers such as Andre Thurman put themselves out of serious contention for a spot on the final roster by dropping important passes. Rookie passer Aaron Rodgers showed very little except that he has much to learn.

Returning to positive aspects, Earl Little was active and took good angles at safety. He also appears to be a sure tackler. He along with Mark Roman, Nick Collins, and Marviel Underwood should provide improved tackling and coverage at the safety position. R-Kal Truluck and Mike Montgomery led a defensive front that put fairly consistent pressure on the Buffalo quarterbacks. Cullen Jenkins also continues to play in the enemy backfield. Ahmad Carroll covered his man and did not commit any penalties.

All thing considered, for a defense missing its starting cornerbacks, its starting tackles, a safety and its most consistent linebacker, the Green Bay defenders played pretty well. The first string offense moved the ball with Brett Favre and presumably would have moved the ball with Craig Nall. With even a little help from his pass-dropping receivers in the second unit, Nall could have led his team to some scores.

Now one and one, the Packers next face New England. That will be a good test.

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