Archive for April 5th, 2011
It was the great sleeping beast, the elephant in the room that the Green Bay Packers knew they eventually had to confront: for the past 3 seasons, the Packers had the dubious distinction of being one of the NFL’s most penalized teams.
Only the Oakland Raiders, renowned as the NFL’s most undisciplined team, was consistently flagged more than the Packers in recent seasons. Mike McCarthy’s frustration was palpable. He preached accountability and he preached intelligence. He’d plead with his team to read the rulebook, for crying out loud! He did what every other team in the NFL did—bring a league referee to training camp to talk about the rules—and he’d have game officials watch practices and call penalties.
Nothing seemed to work and yet, somehow the Packers often overcame penalties by sheer ability, and yes, luck.
But on a key early season Monday Night matchup in Chicago those demons finally came home to roost for the frustrated, embarrassed Packers. Ultimately, Green Bay lost to the unbeaten Bears when Robbie Gould kicked a 19-yard Field Goal with 4 seconds left in the game. The seeds for that loss were sown much earlier in the contest.
The Packers were called for a staggering team-record 18 penalties for 152 yards and they were penalties of all sorts—from off-sides to personal fouls to pass interference—that kept Bears’ drives alive. It was, in short, a complete breakdown few in the NFL could remember seeing previously. While the Packers vigorously disputed a number of the calls, facts were facts, and those penalties went a long way toward the Packers losing their first game of the season.