Rodgers shines, rest of Packers struggle in 35-10 loss to Browns
Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Mike McCarthy to Larry McCarren: "I don't like the final score. It's important to protect your home turf. I'm definitely not happy. We'll hold full judgment until tomorrow."
On Harrell's performance. "He's really improved as far as moving and being smart. On the flip side, throws that he wish he would have hit. He got blitzed in tough spots. We'll make sure he grows."
On 8 turnovers in two preseason games: "It had better be a preseason anomaly. You have to take care of the football."
10:20 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive :43
Drive start: Green Bay 6.
10:18 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive :51
Drive start: Green Bay 20
B.J. Coleman in "I missed that spot, can you go mop-it-up" mop-up duty.
Near pick six. Davis. Can it get worse? (Don't answer that, please.)
10:00 p.m. Browns' 2nd Drive 8:57
Cleveland 35, Green Bay 10
Wolfert 34 yd FG
Drive start: Cleveland 20
3rd-1 at Cleveland 29: While B.J. Coleman warms up on the sideline, Thomas slams for three yards off right tackle..and loses his helmet. It actually malfunctioned. Needs to be fixed. Go enjoy a sip of a beverage.
Uh oh. Ross burned for 27 yards. Toasted. Horrible coverage.
3rd-4 at Green Bay 37: Key pass. Stealing. Reed. First down. Absolute theft.
3rd-1 at Green Bay 21: Dive. Up the middle. First down. Tick. Tock. Run, clock, run!
3rd-5 at Green Bay 13: OK, Packers, let them get the first down. Don't let them score. Then, both team, let the clock run out. Get this game over, please!
Well, delay of game. Isn't that fun.
3rd-10 at Green Bay 18: Thomas slams to the left side...useless run. Time out Green Bay. What are you doing? Stop extending this game!
9:47 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 13:04
Cleveland 32, Green Bay 10
Crosby 42 yd FG
Drive start: Green Bay 17
3rd-4 at Green Bay 23: Harrell has GOT to get something going or the Packers might just think about Colt McCoy.
This time he gets Boykin to the 49 yard line. That's something positive for once, and as for his previous failures, a good amount of them were with 2nd-team level teammates against first-team level opposition. Stacked deck, even if they're the Browns.
Repeat. Harrell. Boykin. 20-plus yards. Repeat.
Harrell only had half the productivity to Brewer on the next throw. I'm highly disappointed. (Kidding.)
9:44 p.m. Browns' 1st Drive 14:46
Drive start: Cleveland 42
Seneca Wallace in for McCoy after just one series.
3rd-17 at Cleveland 35: Great useless completion by Wallace, short of the first down by far. Useless. And awesome.
9:41 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive continued from 4th quarter
Cleveland 32, Green Bay 7
Safety: Harrell intentional grounding in end zone
Harrell tosses one out of the end zone while being chased. Two guys were about to murder him. Was there a receiver in his direction? Nope. Ugh.
9:33 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive 1:15
Drive start: Green Bay 16
Otis Merrill!!! The second time I use excalamation points with the kickoff returner. But not for a happy reason.
"He who hesitates is lost." - Joseph Addison (English playwright...thanks Google.)
He hesitated running it out eight yards deep. 16 yard line. Ooops.
3rd-5 at Green Bay 21. Make that 2nd-18 at Green Bay 8.
9:20 p.m. Browns' 1st Drive 8:37
Cleveland 30, Green Bay 7
Jackson 1 yd TD run
Drive start: Cleveland 25
Colt McCoy gets his Packers tryout...at least that's what some fans hope for instead of Graham Harrell as the backup. There'd have to be a trade. That doesn't happen often. More often, it's a Packers backup being dealt.
A throw down the seam to Gordon nets a first down. Better than, I think, any throw Harrell had.
Our Greg Matzek points out Harrell, so far, has a QB rating of 12.
3rd-2 at Cleveland 46: Brandon Jackson slams at the line of scrimmage, and his former teammates knew he was coming. Not enough of a gain. A wall of green like running into a bunch of Christmas trees.
4th-1 at Cleveland 45: McCoy to Smelley and the key pass works again. Unstoppable if well executed.
I feel for Smelley, growing up with that name.
3rd-9 at Green Bay 35: Windsor wiiiiiiiiiiiide open on a crossing pattern for a first down at the 26. Larry: "Packers had a coverage screwup...nobody on the eventual receiver."
Gronkowski inside the five yard line after that old key pass. No, not that Gronkowski. A family member. This guy doesn't deserve the nickname "Gronk" yet.
3rd-goal at Green Bay 1: Brandon Jackson spins off left tackle. Three score game against the Browns. What?
9:12 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 12:20
Drive start: Green Bay 20
Moss gets credit for coming back to help his quarterback. The Browns were collapsing on Harrell like teenagers at a Justin Bieber sighting. A nearly deadly loss turned into good positive yardage thanks to Moss helping out his QB.
3rd -4 at Green Bay 26: Harrell with another far sideline scramble for another first down. He knows his mobility skills. He shouldn't look to run as often as he does, but he knows that it's a drive-extending skill he can use there. He's also smart with it...go to the sidelines and safety.
3rd-4 at Green Bay 44: Moss tipped a pass along the sideline that only he could catch. He didn't. A Cleveland receiver was all over him.
9:03 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 15:00 left in 3rd quarter
Cleveland 23, Green Bay 7
Sims 38 yd INT return TD
Drive start: Green Bay 14
Merrill got slammed down at the 14 yard line when a Brown slammed Lawrence Guy into Merrill. That is known as a blow-up by a Brown, and a way for Guy to avoid making the final 53-man roster.
3rd-5 at GB 19: Harrell shows some legs and gets a first down, diving along the sideline before someone with an orange helmet can turn him into orange juice.
A receiver fell down and David Sims goins pick six for 36 yards. Ryan Taylor was the guy who fell on the Lambeau turf. Not Harrell's fault.
8:49 p.m. Packers' 5th Drive :02
Drive start: Green Bay 47
Hail Mary formation for Green Bay. Hmmm..."Hail Mary, full of grace..." Picked off five yards short of the end zone. Not good hang time or distance.
8:46 p.m. Browns' 5th Drive :15
Drive start: Cleveland 46
Browns go Hail Mary formation. Completion to Norwood, and they may try to get Dawson his 4th field goal of the half.
They do. Wow. But Dawson barely...barely...missed.
8:42 p.m. Packers' 4th Drive 1:19
Drive start: Cleveland 45
OTIS MERRILL!! Goes half the distance and then some during the kickoff return! 60 yards on the kickoff return. One cutback during the return and he had huge open field.
3rd-6 at Cleveland 41: Harrell takes off a little early for his short-of-the-first-down run. He still had time and space in the pocket to possibly complete a pass. Quick, happy feet
Crosby misses wide right.
8:35 p.m. Browns' 4th Drive 2:15
Cleveland 16, Green Bay 7
Dawson 52 yd FG
Drive start: Green Bay 40
Weeden plays the whole first half. He needs a first two-minute drive test.
3rd-10 at Green Bay 40: One of those lovely useless completions that don't make first downs. Though not so useless as it gives Phil Dawson another chance at a five-million-yard field goal.
8:29 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive 3:27
Drive start: Green Bay 1
3rd-10 at Green Bay 1: Harrell to Cobb...off his hands. Not a first down throw anyway, but Harrell was avoiding a safety as much as he was trying to complete a pass. Good incompletion.
8:20 p.m. Browns' 3rd Drive 9:18
Drive start: Cleveland 8
The Browns keep their starters in long. They need the reps. The Packers' backups need to get reps against starters. I like it.
3rd-1 at Cleveland 17: Moore used a good square out to beat Jennings and get a first down. Smith barely missed tipping the ball.
3rd-5 at Cleveland 29: Another 3rd down completion with Hayward blitzing and pulverizing Weeden. Credit the QB for staying in the pocket and taking the shot.
3rd-9 at Cleveland 38: Jackson slammed for barely enough....a burned Packers blitz.
AGH! Hayward learned to jump a route after last week's failure. He failed to learn to hang on to the ball on a near pick-6. McCarren: "Did everything but catch it." Had he caught it, he'd be running to Plymouth right now.
3rd-9 at Cleveland 48: Droppsies syndrome with the Browns. No complaints.
8:12 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 12:35
Drive start: Green Bay 10
Anybody want to block the Browns' Robertson? Came unabated and demolished the runner for no gain.
3rd-8 at GB 12: Crabtree missed Harrell's pass - bopped it up in the air and Roberts goes pick six. Ugh. But thankfully, Cleveland's neutral zone malfeasance makes up for Crabtree's juggling malfeasance.
3rd-3 at GB 17: This time, Harrell gets Cobb with a sure throw to a spot where only Cobb could catch it.
3rd-8 at GB 25: Harrell has to toss the ball and aim for the second row to avoid getting sacked. But almost a leaping interception.
8:09 p.m. Browns' 2nd Drive 14:34
Drive start: Cleveland 38
Bush with a corner blitz and he got to Hardesty in the backfield. GREAT instincts.
3rd-7 at Cleveland 41: A great gang tackle JUST short of the first down. D.J. Smith with a great tackle. Smith is an intelligent guy who won't blast runners like Bishop, but will make tackles.
8:03 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 14:55
Drive start: Green Bay 20
The music coming over Lambeau Field's speakers are playing a country song. It involves a rhyme of crazy and baby. It's that one-half of top 40 or country music in that category?
Graham Harrell in. Big determination game for him tonight. A thread the needle pass behind his receiver is how he starts his night.
3rd-15 at Green Bay 15: Harrell misses again. Boykin. Behind him. He was rushed and had to get rid of it. Larry McCarren: "That series makes the all-preseason team for ugliness."
7:58 p.m. Browns' 1st Drive Continued from 1st quarter
1st-goal at Green Bay 1: Hardesty off right guard. That was. Quick. Good penetration by the Packers front wall, but second effort got the end zone.
7:53 p.m. Browns' 4th Drive 2:23
Drive start: Green Bay 45
Clay Matthews done for tonight. That means guys like B.J. Raji have to go out and catch wide receivers in the flat making first down catches. Funny to see, but Raji shows mobility there.
3rd-6 at Green Bay 25: Weedon finds a wide open...wide open Little. This is circa 2011 defensive backfield performance. To the 1. Cannot happen this year. Cannot.
7:45 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive 4:47
Drive start: Green Bay 11
Jerel Worthy didn't give Andrew Brewer much help in blocking for him on the return. Worthy's not a regular special teams kind of guy, I imagine.
ARod gets another series. Probably will play this last drive.
Alex Green with a "get-what-you-can" run for five yards. The Green Bay offensive line gave him a sliver of space on the wide left side.
3rd-5 at GB 16: Free play! ARod will run and the guy tucks it and tippy-toes along the sideline like a novice ballet dancer for 21 yards. He's not Baryshnikov (sp?), but he can do enough with the mobility to stay upright and wing it like no one else in football.
I have to admit: every time Jeff Saturday's mentioned, I feel like grooving to Elton John's "Saturday NIght's Alright for Fighting." Though not at a Harley event.
3rd-5 at Green Bay 42: Rush got to Rodgers, and he could only scamper for three yards before getting stopped...but they're going for it. Nothing to lose. Preseason. It was going to be a quick snap as the Browns were trying to get the punt return team on.
4th-2 at Green Bay 45: After a Browns time out...ARod deep...missed Driver. Well covered. Pass had to be high to avoid the interception or tip. There WAS face guarding. But no call.
7:40 p.m. Browns' 3rd Drive 5:43
Green Bay 7, Cleveland 6
Dawson 47 yd FG
Drive start: Green Bay 32
WHAT? 15 yards for an unsportsmanlike conduct because Mike McCarthy threw a red challenge flag on a touchdown or a turnover? That is a complete joke. I know it's an NFL rule, but it's a joke.
3rd-7 at Cleveland 29: Incompletion. Great job by Worthy figuring out the screen pass.
7:30 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 8:43
Drive start: Green Bay 26
Williams starts with a little play action dump-off to the left from Rodgers. That's the old key pass that is a staple of the West Coast offense.
Agh. One official says it's a first down. Another says it wasn't. Make up your mind! Well, Alex Green did it with a first down run. Real refs, get on the field, please!
Rodgers is getting the groove on. Short throws. Rifle throws. Smart throws. Surgical. He's in mid-season form at least. If this drive ends well with a touchdown, sit Rodgers after this.
ARod 5-6 after a first down throw to James Jones, a guy who wants to prove he can be a starter and make sure the Packers don't lose anything with an extended absence of Greg Jennings.
Even Rodgers' incompletions are smart. When he's pressured and running almost out of bounds and there's a Packer who can catch a football, or at least be a target where an INT won't happen, ARod delivers a smart incompletion when there's nothing else there.
Cobb! What in the world? You just let the ball get stripped from you, and a Cleveland lineman lumbered like me on that field down the sideline!
That. Cannot. Happen.
7:18 p.m. Browns' 2nd Drive 13:51
Packers 7, Browns 3
Dawson 53 yd FG
Drive start: Cleveland 30
Hardesty is getting lots of forward push for first downs. Not good for the d-line.
Weeden to Gordon deep downfield to the Packers 38 is not good for the d-backs. Historic swiss cheese defense last year cannot happen for this team to be a champion like they should be if they play to their best capability and health.
3rd-1 at Green Bay 29: Hardesty succeeds in gaining a first down as the entire right side of the defensive front seven got pulverized, with the exception of Clay Matthews who got tackled as he was pushing forward.
Yellow hankies prevent Hardesty from gaining 11 yards. Joe Thomas, Brookfield's own, basically hogtied Clay Matthews like he was a piece of pork waiting to be turned into bacon.
3rd-20 at Green Bay 36: Weeden finds Cribbs open...for just a second. Literally a second. One of those useless completions on 3rd down and long that goes six yards. Although it did improve the Browns' field goal capability.
It just got unimproved after another Browns holding penalty.
7:10 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 14:45 left in 1st Qtr
Green Bay 7, Cleveland 0
Rodgers-Nelson 20 yd TD pass
Drive start: Cleveland 23
Good news: Woodson's takeaway gets the Packers close to the end zone. Bad news: it doesn't test their ability to put together a full drive.
ARod...Nelson...end zone...AGH! Too high. One hand on it. Juuuuust a bit high.
3rd-7 at Cleveland 20: FANTASTIC CATCH BY NELSON! That makes up for the boo-boo. Could not be more perfect.
7:08 p.m. Browns' 1st Drive 15:00 left in 1st quarter
Drive start: Cleveland 17
Robert Francois did what rarely happens in the NFL - stopping Josh Cribbs short of the 20 yard line. Larry McCarren: "That Cribbs can be a scary dude."
FUMBLE! Ball! Ball! Guys pointing to the north end zone saying the Packers have it...the refs agree. Lovely.
Coin toss time: Cleveland calls heads. Ends up heads. Browns captain: "We want the ball."
The Packers rush onto the field with about 100 fans wearing No. 12 Aaron Rodgers jerseys to greet them and slow their progress through the tunnel. It's a preseason fan appreciation night, if you will, but they're slowly sauntering through the tunnel, high-fiving the fans.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy to Wayne Larrivee during the Newsradio 620 WTMJ pregame:
On his first preseason game:
"It's great to be home...I know our young guys (playing their first game) are real excited...it's a big night for them."
On how the south end zone could bring about changes in the wind patterns:
"15 to 20 mile an hour winds all the way up through the second quarter. I'll be interested, with the change in the structure."
On Cedric Benson:
"He brings a toughness, a running style...he's been carrying the ball since grade school at a very high level...I think he's an excellent inside runner. He definitely falls forward. I'm excited he's here."
On the chance for backups to face Cleveland starters that may play longer."
"It's important for us to evaluate the middle part of our roster. It would be great."
Will the Packers' first team offense finally get in a groove, unlike what they've been the last five quarters they've been on the field.
Will Graham Harrell show us that he's the backup quarterback who got into a groove late against San Diego, or will he be the guy who was more than inconsistent in the beginning of his time against the Chargers?
Will any running back decide he wants the job with Cedric Benson breathing down his proverbial neck?
Most importantly, will the Packers get through this preseason game with the Cleveland Browns without another major injury?
Those are many of the questions being asked as the preseason home opener comes tonight.
I think you'll see Aaron Rodgers play a quarter, maybe more, just as long as it take to prove that he and the offense have rhythm.
The rest of the starters may play a little more, to give Graham Harrell time with the first team.