Green Bay Packers special team miscues loom large in loss to the Rams

Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images
Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images /

Three blown plays by the Green Bay Packers’ special teams group helped end a potential upset victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

Green Bay Packers special team’s coordinator Ron Zook probably wants a few do-overs following their 29-27 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. The game was virtually over after Ty Montgomery decided to field a kickoff inside his own end zone with under two minutes remaining and then fumbling the ensuing return. It was one of the multiple insurmountable mistakes by Green Bay’s third unit that kept them from ending the Rams perfect season in Week 8.

Montgomery’s turnover kept the ball out of Aaron Rodgers hands down only two points with a chance to end the game on a game-winning drive. Rodgers has already pulled it off multiple times this season, but he can’t do it if he never gets on the field.

A win over Los Angeles would have been huge coming off the bye week heading into a tough stretch of games. Green Bay played their most complete game all year, however, even one bad play can prove to be deadly in today’s NFL.

After the game, Montgomery declined to speak with the media on his way out of the locker room, but head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters the original plan was to play for a touchback should the ball reach the end zone.

“The plan there is to stay in the end zone,” McCarthy said.

“That’s what those games come down to, those kinds of decisions,” he added. “Ty’s in that situation and I’m sure Ty was just trying to make a play.”

The fumble didn’t solely lose the Packers the game even though it obviously took away a great opportunity from Rodgers. Looking back, it was special teams blunders throughout the game that really stuck out as momentum-changing plays.

It started on a faked a punt when Rams punter Johnny Hekker found former Packer Sam Shields for a 12-yard pass on fourth and three. That drive inevitably did end in a punt, but it definitely put Green Bay’s second unit on high alert for the rest of the game.

Then, right before the half, Los Angles’ special team’s came up big again pinning the Packers down on the one-yard line. Running back Aaron Jones was met in the backfield on a handoff resulting in a safety and giving the Rams their first points of the game. They went on to score the very next drive to cut the Packers lead to two points going into halftime.

It goes to show that even what seem like meaningless plays can go a long way in hurting a football team’s chance to win. The offense, defense, and special teams can not afford to make an error at importune times because it will only haunt you at the end.

Now it’s all would ofs, could ofs, and should ofs, but if the safety never happens, the Packers are likely not giving up any points before halftime. And, if Montgomery never attempts an ill-advised return at the end, maybe Green Bay’s offense pulls off another miracle last minute drive.

At 3-3-1, the Packers season isn’t over, but a win next week against the New England Patriots is much needed and will require an all-around team effort.