GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers dared Ryan Tannehill to beat them Thursday night at Lambeau Field.
Joe Barry’s defense was focused on slowing down the Titans’ all-world running back Derrick Henry. That mission was accomplished for the most part as Henry was held to 87 yards on 28 carries and one touchdown—with a long run of just nine yards.
But in the end, Tannehill beat Green Bay. The oft-maligned quarterback didn’t flinch in the Thursday night spotlight and riddled the Packers’ defense for 322 yards and two touchdowns, including four explosive plays over 30 yards (43, 42, 32, 31), in Tennessee’s decisive 27-17 victory.
At 4-7, Green Bay’s season is now literally on the brink—they must win five out of their remaining six games—or at least five–to have any hopes of a possible playoff berth.
It was another frustrating loss that followed a familiar script: inconsistent play, no complementary football, and missed opportunities.
The game 7-6 after one quarter, 14-6 at the half, and 20-17 at the end of three quarters after rookie receiver Christian Watson caught his second touchdown pass with 2:03 remaining in the third stanza.
But the Packers’ offense stalled in the final quarter when the defense stopped the Titans with an interception by Rasul Douglas with 10:55 remaining and a 34-yard punt return with 7:12 left set them up at the Tennessee 44-yard line.
Rodgers struggled with several errant third-down throws on those drives and Green Bay failed on a 4th-down-and-1 run in the final minutes.
Head coach Matt LaFleur was almost at a loss for words, as four days earlier the Packers’ dramatic victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field.
“Obviously extremely disappointed right now,” he said. “To put on a performance like that, I just don’t even know what to say. It was nothing like a few days ago, and that’s why you’re only as good as your last game. Every time you step out on that field, you have to go out and do it. Give credit to the Titans, they came ready to play
“They were obviously more physical, and they made a lot more plays than we made. There was no consistency in terms of being complimentary, offensively and defensively. Obviously, when we needed stops, we couldn’t get them. And then when we needed to score, and we were getting stops, we couldn’t score. Didn’t take advantage of an interception. Didn’t take advantage of the return to midfield. You can’t do that against good football teams and expect to win.”
The Packers now have a mini-bye to rest and regroup. Then they take on the Eagles in Philadelphia—Green Bay’s last chance to start a playoff run.
“We’re not in a very good position right now, that’s for sure,” LaFleur said. “Like I told the guys, there’s no margin for error. Period. And I know we have a really tough team coming up in Philly. So, we’re going to get back to work on Monday and try to make some of these corrections because it’s disappointing when you have, whether it’s your coverage bust defensively, whether it’s protection busts and/or any type of mistake in regards to the mental errors, that’s extremely disappointing, especially where we’re at in the season. Quite frankly, even when we are all on the same page, we’re not executing to the level that we need to. That’s why we’re sitting here at 4-7.”
LaFleur said, “There has to be an urgency, and I challenged everybody in the locker room, including myself and the coaches. There has to be something that every individual has something to work on and get better at.”