Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  By PAUL IMIG  |  Last updated 11/18/13
Handing out grades following the Green Bay Packers 27-13road loss to the New York Giants in Week 11:Passing Offense: CScott Tolzien made the type of mistakes that young,inexperienced quarterbacks often do. A week ago, it was Tolziens interceptionin the end zone that cost him and took away from his otherwise effectiveperformance. Against the Giants, it was three interceptions that changed thecourse of the game.Tolziens first interception was a case of him not seeing alinebacker who dropped in coverage. The second interception was just a greatplay by a talented, athletic defensive lineman, as Jason Pierre-Paul sniffedout the short throw and earned himself a touchdown and a moment that willforever be part of his highlight package. Tolziens third and finalinterception was mostly due to a mental error that is common among quarterbacksmaking their first-ever NFL start, especially when put in a situation of tryingto make up a 14-point difference in less than two minutes.Tolzien didnt lose this game for the Packers, but itsdifficult to pull off a win when there are three interceptions and one of themresults in seven points for the defense. To put it into perspective, AaronRodgers has thrown four interceptions this season on 251 passing attempts;Tolzien now has five interceptions on 73 passes.Tolzien did have success with big plays, piecing togetherfive long gains. He connected with Jordy Nelson on 25- and 29-yard passes, withJames Jones for 45 yards, with Jarrett Boykin for 52 yards and with tight endBrandon Bostick for 26 yards. That accounted for 177 of Tolziens 339 passingyards.Tolzien completed 24 of his 34 passes, but he didnt throw atouchdown and finished with a passer rating of 65.7. Tolzien was not sacked atall, though he was under pressure on several occasions.Nelson led the receivers with 117 yards on eight catches,with Boykin not far behind with 91 yards on six catches.Rushing Offense: DOne thing that would have really helped Tolzien is a strongrunning game. Instead, the Packers played their worst game of the season inthis area.Green Bays opening drive set the tone. Lacy carried theball on the first two offensive plays and gained only three yards, forcing thePackers into a 3rd-and-7 situation that wasnt converted. It didnt get anybetter after that, either.Lacy finished with just 27 yards on 14 carries (season-low1.9-yard average). The only significant positive for Green Bay on the groundwas a four-yard touchdown run by Lacy on a third-and-1 play early in the fourthquarter. That capped off what was by far the Packers best drive of the game,getting in the end zone in a hurry with 83 yards on five plays in less thanthree minutes of work.Green Bays longest run was a 12-yard gain by John Kuhn onwhat was the final play of the game, when the Giants were more than willing togive up a 12-yard rush. Even with that play, though, the Packers still totaled55 yards on 20 rushing attempts in a game in which there needed to be at least threetimes that production if Green Bay was going to have a good shot at winning.Passing Defense: B-minusStarting cornerback Sam Shields was probable on Fridaysinjury report, but his hamstring was bad enough Sunday afternoon that he wasscratched from the lineup. As Green Bays best cover man, that was an earlysetback that the Packers werent expecting. But in Shields absence, TramonWilliams played one of his best games in years. Williams intercepted EliManning in the red zone late in the second quarter when the Giants were tryingto extend their lead beyond seven points. Williams also had multiple open-fieldsolo tackles.Manning leads the NFL (in a way that no quarterback wants tolead the NFL) in interceptions. When New York opened the season losing sixgames in a row, it had a lot to do with Manning throwing it to the wrong team15 times. The outcome of this game wasnt quite as simple as Manningsaccuracy, but its played such a big role in the Giants win-loss column thatits impossible to ignore the significance of it. But only Williams was able tosnag one away from Manning, and, ultimately, Green Bay forcing just oneturnover wasnt enough for the Packers to win on the road.Jones, A.J. Hawk, Clay Matthews and Mike Neal all picked upsacks, but all four of them came in the fourth quarter. Considering how upsetcoach Mike McCarthy has been with his teams fourth-quarter play, four sacks inthe final 15 minutes on Sunday is a positive for Green Bay.A 26-yard touchdown pass to Rueben Randle, two longcompletions to Victor Cruz for a combined 55 yards and one 35-yarder to HakeemNicks helped propel Manning to a 279-yard passing performance and a quality92.4 passer rating. That passer rating is far better than Mannings averagethis season of 70.8.Rushing Defense: C-minusNew York entered this game as the NFLs 29th-ranked rushing offense. The statistics that accompanied the Giants lackluster group of running backs made what the Packers did last season (when Alex Green led the way with just 464 yards) look like a tremendous accomplishment.While a quick glance at the box score might suggest that Green Bay did relatively well in stopping New Yorks uninspiring run game, it was mostly a struggle for the Packers. The Giants moved the chains eight times rushing the ball and converted two fourth downs behind linebacker-sized running back Brandon Jacobs.Green Bay had three tackles for loss, all three of which came on first-down plays. Brad Jones accounted for two of those.New Yorks starting running back Andre Brown, whos been with five teams in four NFL seasons and is in his second stint with the Giants (translation: hes not very good), finished with 66 yards on 18 carries (3.7 average). For a Packers defense that did such a good job against great runners like Adrian Peterson, Reggie Bush, Frank Gore and Ray Rice earlier in the season, the wheels have really fallen off over the past three games.Special Teams: CMcCarthys decision to go for a fake punt backfired. Notonly did M.D. Jennings only gain six yards on the fourth-and-7 play, but theGiants took over with good field position and scored a touchdown on the ensuingdrive.The Packers continued their dreadful season with kickreturns. Already the worst team in the NFL in kick-return average, the threeballs Micah Hyde ran out of the end zone each gave Green Bay worse fieldposition than if he had just taken the touchback.After missing two field-goal attempts against Philadelphia,Crosby had a very good day, connecting on a 57-yarder in the final secondsbefore halftime. No aspect of Crosbys accuracy has been more problematic thanfrom distances of longer than 50 yards, so this was a big make for both his ownconfidence and that of McCarthy to give him future chances in similar situations.Overall: CThis was Green Bays third consecutive loss, one that placesthe once division-leading Packers in 10th place in the NFC standings. With theexception of the one series Rodgers played against Chicago before breaking hisleft collarbone, all three of these losses have been without their superstarquarterback. And, to a certain extent, it makes sense that Green Bay wouldstruggle to win without Rodgers. But the issues during this losing streak havegone deeper than the quarterback position, especially on defense. With sixgames left in the regular season and Rodgers expected to miss two of them, thePackers are in danger of not making the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Follow Paul Imig on Twitter
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