Since I did not travel to Detroit’s Ford Field for the Packers Thanksgiving Day game with the Lions, I’ll offer my detailed, real-time observations from the comfort of a sofa in front of a large-screen television. You’ll be reading them after the fact, so this does not constitute live play-by-play on this blog. I find it good to stay on the right side of the NFL media policies…although I’m on the left side of the couch (as it faces the TV), for whatever that’s worth.
11:34 AM: As the Fox cameras pan the stadium, plenty of empty seats are visible for a game billed as a sellout.
11:35 AM: First of what will be many references to Matthew Stafford’s toughness by the Fox announcing crew.
11:35 AM: Jordy Nelson returns opening kick and fumbles. Fox cameras with a nice reaction shot of an incredulous Mike McCarthy.
11:39 AM: A blow to the head of Stafford by Clay Matthews results in a penalty.
11:42 AM: Stafford hits Calvin Johnson on a back shoulder pass into the end zone. Surprisingly, no Fox broadcaster references to the toughness of either, but the production crew shows a nice reaction shot of Matt Flynn offering support to Jordy Nelson on the sidelines.
11:43 AM: First “Jimmy Football” commercial…quite possibly the worst ad campaign foisted upon the beer-drinking public. Unfortunately, no reaction shots of the brain wizards of the ad agency who dreamed this up, nor a glimpse into the Anheuser-Busch conference room where the brand managers of Bud Light approved the campaign.
11:46 AM: Jordy Nelson does not fumble 2nd kick return, but Quinn Johnson is penalized for a block in the back.
11:47 AM: Ryan Grant rushes for 15 yards….1st positive play for Green Bay.
11:49 AM: Aaron Rodgers, with all day to throw, finds Donald Lee for a 10 yard gain on 3rd & 6….2nd positive play for Green Bay. Who are these gentlemen playing offensive line for the Packers?
11:51 AM: A toss sweep to Brandon Jackson results in another 3rd down conversion–a new addition to the Packers playbook?
11:53 AM: Rodgers to Driver on 3rd down, 3rd 3rd down conversion on this drive. More positive plays…
11:56 AM: Mason Crosby misses 42-yard field goal, begins thinking about ad agency career.
12:02 PM: Packers defense bails out special teams as Nick Collins intercepts Stafford, after some pressure is applied by the GB d-line…the pick stops a promising drive by the Lions on the GB 26.
12:07 PM: Rodgers has all day to throw, counts to six California, and then chucks a 67-yard bomb to Donald Driver on the final play of the quarter.
12:10 PM: Rodgers throws a tight end screen to Donald Lee, who dives into the end zone. Another new addition to the Green Bay playbook?
12:11 PM: Replay of long bomb to Driver, one angle shows sideline videographer in perfect position for a great shot, but his camera is on the ground….that videographer CANNOT be happy about that turn of events.
12:16 PM: Johnny Jolly bats down Stafford pass. Having bashed Jolly in a previous blog for a bad personal foul penalty versus the VIkings, I’m compelled to point out that he may be the most consistent performer on the GB D-line.
12:18 PM: Jarrett Bush undercuts route, but Dennis Northcutt drops pass. Packers fans exhale. Jarrett Bush haters scream and throw objects at TV.
12:19 PM: Good news: Jordy Nelson does not fumble punt return. Bad news: he runs laterally, is tackled at the 8 after a return of 0-1 yards. More bad news: Brandon Underwood is penalized for a block in the back. Good news for Brandon Underwood: Fox replay shows that Atari Bigby was actually the guilty party. No news: no reaction shot of special teams coach Shawn Slocum updating his resume on the sidelines so he can send it to the ad agency that created the “Jimmy Football” spots.
12:20 PM: 1st MasterCard commercial featuring Peyton Manning…reasonably amusing. “Jimmy Football” creators are hopefully paying attention.
12:24 PM: 1st Brett Favre reference of the broadcast, as well as the first mention of Aaron Rodgers having “eye discipline.” I am still waiting for a reference that a player has good “eye-black discipline.”
12:27 & 12:29 PM: Consecutive penalties committed by Lions defenders on pass completions to Jermichael Finley, something you don’t see in every NFL game.
12:29, 12:31, & 12:33 PM: Packers playbook stuck on Quick Pass To Receiver page…interesting play calls, to say the least.
12:33 PM: Crosby barely sneaks 20-yard FG attempt inside left upright…runs to sideline, instructs team managers to photocopy his resume and then scatter the copies around downtown Detroit.
12:38 PM: B.J. Raji obliterates running back Kevin Smith for 4-yard loss. Somewhere, Ted Thompson suppresses a smile. Ted Thompson-haters still screaming about Jarrett Bush, and posting on message boards that TT and MM must be fired for allowing BF to leave GB.
12:39 PM: Pressure from GB defensive front forces a bad throw by Stafford, which is picked by Tramon Williams. Officials miss a blatant hold on a rushing Brady Poppinga, which was more like a wrestling move.
12:48 PM: 2nd Brett Favre reference by announcing crew.
12:48 PM: 2nd & goal from the Lions 9, and the play call is an off tackle run by Brandon Jackson. Really?
12:51 PM: Crosby boots 25-yard field goal, starts re-thinking career change to advertising, decides to stick with placekicking for now.
12:54 PM: Charles Woodson makes a tremendous (if unnoticed by the announcers) play, by stopping a Lions screen pass for a gain of 7 yards when it could have gone for 20+ yards. A typical Woodson play.
12:55 PM: Okay, so Woodson’s not perfect, he commits a 15-yard facemask penalty.
12:56 PM: But he’s still the best playmaker on the GB defense: Woodson sacks Stafford and strips the ball away, but the QB is ruled down.
12:58 PM: A somewhat veiled reference by the Fox announcers about Stafford’s toughness.
12:50 PM: On final play of the half, Stafford scrambles around, and then gets drilled by hustling Clay Matthews.
12:50 PM: I leave the TV to get a few things done around the house, including putting the dogs in the back yard for some exercise.
1:20 PM: I miss the start of the 3rd quarter because my neighbor is at my front door with my black lab, Otis, who somehow wedged his large head through the fence, and then broke through, so he could visit Max, the neighbor’s chocolate lab. I drag Otis inside, go outside to investigate the fence break, and why Buddy, my chocolate lab, chose to merely bark non-stop rather than make a run for it to visit Max.
1:29 PM: Packers go for it on 4th down, a good call, considering how Crosby has been kicking field goals. Unfortunately, the real Green Bay offensive line returns, and Rodgers is sacked, fumbles, and the LIons take over.
1:36 PM: Rodgers, from his own 10, chucks a 47-yard bomb to Driver.
1:38 PM: Rodgers throws a dart to Nelson, who atones (somewhat) for his fumble by making a nice grab along the sideline.
1:40 PM: Rodgers throws another dart, this time to Driver in the end zone. After three replays, I’m still trying to figure out how the pass got there.
1:44 PM: The versatile Spencer Havner makes a key tackle that prevents a long Lions kick return…somewhere in the Ford Field pressbox, at least one member of the Packers media makes a note to ask Mike McCarthy about “lane integrity.”
1:45 PM: A.J. Hawk and B.J. Raji combine to emphatically stuff a run by the Lions…TT haters announce a 10-second moratorium of bashing the Packers GM on message boards.
1:51 PM: Jarrett Bush drops interception, although replays show Lions TE Casey Fitzsimmons actually made a nice play to knock the ball away. The replay, however, is not shown quickly enough to prevent Bush-haters and TT-haters from posting on message boards.
1:53 PM: After scrambling away from pressure, Rodgers flips the ball sideways to Ryan Grant, who takes it for a 27-yard gain. Instead of gushing over the play by the QB (as some may have had that pass been thrown by a former GB QB now playing in Minnesota), Fox analyst Troy Aikman points out that the Detroit defense appears to be getting tired.
1:55 PM: Rodgers eludes rush, finds James Jones for a touchdown pass. No gushing by announcers about Rodgers play-making abilities.
1:56 – 1:57 PM: More Brett Favre references by announcing crew.
1:58 PM: Even more Favre references.
1:59 PM: End of 3rd quarter…I abandon the couch for the kitchen and a snack (cheese, crackers, turkey, and an iced tea)
2:06 PM: Fox announcers begin talking about their fantasy football league, while I resist the temptation to jam my TV remote control into my eye socket.
2:06 PM: Fox announcers make no mention of Rodgers’ elusiveness to avoid a rush, bounce off a would-be tackle, and deliver a pass, choosing instead to speculate if Matt Flynn will play today.
2:07 PM: The Lions; Dennis Northcutt, on a punt return, chooses to run out of bounds rather than take on a charging Brady Poppinga…a move that goes under the category of “smart.”
2:09 PM: Northcutt burns Jarrett Bush, but Fox announcers choose to avoid talking about either a) the move by Northcutt, or b) the bad coverage by Bush, to continue a 3-minute discussion of what Matthew Stafford means to the Lions now and in the future.
2:12 PM: Bush atones for previous gaffes by breaking up a 3rd-down pass on the goal line
2:12 PM: Packers defense comes up with a goal-line stand, thanks to a blitz by Atari Bigby which forces Stafford to throw the ball out of the back of the end zone.
2:13 PM: 2nd “Jimmy Football” commercial…I run screaming from the rec room, choosing instead to run to the kitchen again, this time to put the dirty plate & glass in the dishwasher.
2:16 PM: Grant is stuffed in the end zone, hits the turf, the ball pops loose, and somehow, the officials rule it a fumble, recovered by the Lions for a TD. It’s as if the zebras were mere puppets being operated from the Fox Network headquarters, where the brain wizards there were begging to do something to keep this game interesting. Mike McCarthy challenges the call.
2:18 PM: Steve Young, who I’ve generally always liked as a player and an analyst, appears in a commercial wearing a black V-neck sweater & white t-shirt (always a good combo for casual dress), but under a hideous Century 21-like pale yellow blazer with an odd-looking Pro Football Hall of Fame crest.
2:19 PM: Packers “win” challenge, but the result is a safety & 2 points for the Lions. The Fox production crew has a great sideline shot of Grant having a heated conversation with Quinn Johnson, who appeared to not do much lead-blocking on the run that resulted in a safety….while the FOX announcers point out (or root, if you will) that the game still isn’t over. Good thing Joe Buck and Troy Aikman aren’t in sales…
2:21 PM: Daunte Culpepper story line emerges on the broadcast…Buck & Aikman are clearly onto page three of their game notes.
2:21 PM: Northcutt returns punt for 33 yards…rest of Green Bay media in pressbox makes note to ask about “lane integrity.”
2:22 PM: Fox announcers talk about Sunday games, making sure to not say “the Minnesota Vikings,” but “Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings.”
2:26 PM: Charles Woodson with blanket coverage on Calvin Johnson, albeit a hobbled Johnson, but still…saying Woodson is playing at a Pro Bowl-level does not give the guy enough credit.
2:31 PM: After a Jason Hanson FG, the Lions inexplicably kick the ball deep, whereupon Charles Woodson (who else) fields it and takes it out of bounds without incident.
2:33 PM: Fox shows video of the 1962 game when the Packers lost to the Lions in Detroit, a game in which Bart Starr was sacked 11 times. TT-haters see the video, grab their computers, start posting on message boards that it was Ted Thompson’s fault.
2:35 PM: I mute the TV audio, run upstairs to crank up the radio broadcast audio on the stereo, in hopes of hearing either Wayne Larrivee say in a complete deadpan voice, “And there…is…your…dagger…”, or else Larry McCarren groan in total disdain.
2:36 PM: Woodson picks off a Stafford pass, runs it back for a TD, does a Heisman Trophy pose in the end zone, while Larrivee terms it “an exclamation point.” I am underwhelmed by the call, but overwhelmed by Woodson’s play for yet another week.
2:37 PM: Turn off TV & radio, head outside to fix fence.
Bottom line: none of these three wins over the last 12 days was pretty, but they were wins. The Packers are 7-4, and very much in the NFC playoff chase.
With that, it’s time to head to the future in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner. I’d like to wish all of our readers a very happy holiday–hopefully, we can all take a moment (if not more) give thanks for the good things in our lives.
Posted under Hometown Sports
This post was written by bbradovich on November 26, 2009