Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Pointless Effort at Lambeau Field

By Eric Goska

Getting with the program: Vendors were among those braving freezing temperatures at Lambeau Field Sunday when the Packers hosted the Ravens.

Slim and none showed up at the close of the third quarter in Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field.

Slim’s stay was short-lived as he fled for parts unknown long before the final seconds ticked away.

With zero points to their credit and down by 13, the Green Bay Packers adopted a game plan they had used on other occasions such as this: they folded. This time it was the Baltimore Ravens that bounced them 23-0, but it easily could have the Bears, the Maroons, the Yellow Jackets or another team had it been a different era.

So, what was more surprising: the Packers with a goose egg on the scoreboard after three quarters or the team calling for two timeouts with less than three minutes to go?

It had to be the latter. Down 16-0, Green Bay twice stopped the clock after runs by the Ravens. History suggests the stoppages were a waste of time as the possibility of mounting a comeback at that late juncture had gone from slim to none.

It’s been 11 years since the Packers were last rendered pointless after three quarters. In 2006, both the Patriots (35-0) and Bears (26-0) kept them off the scoreboard.

Scoreless through three has been a rarity in the years since Mike Holmgren coached in Green Bay. It’s happened five times since 1992, with the Dolphins (1994) and Cowboys (1996) blanking the Packers prior to the Bears, Patriots, and Ravens having done so.

This lack of point production wasn’t always so uncommon. Green Bay failed to score in the opening three quarters 100 times from 1921 through 1991.

That failure to score was often followed by failure on the field. Since 1921, the Packers are 10-84-11 (.148) in the regular-season when they had nothing to show through three.

Among those games were 19 in which both teams were scoreless. Eliminate those and Green Bay’s record is even more dismal at 6-79-1 (.076)

Teams that feasted while the Packers rested include the Bears (19-1), the Lions (12-0) and Cardinals (6-0-1). The Pottsville Maroons (2-0) and Frankford Yellow Jackets (1-0) also got into the act.

Not even this gentleman could drum up points for the Packers who lost by 23 to the Ravens.

But let’s take this further. What exactly were the odds of a Packer victory at the moment Baltimore running back Alex Collins ran for a first down to the Ravens 46-yard line at the close of the third quarter?

Needless to say, they weren’t good. The Packers are 1-55 (.018) when scoreless after three and facing a deficit of at least 10 points. Their loss to the Ravens was their 30th in a row under these circumstances.

Over the years, some ugly losses resulted from being in that situation. The Lions, up 26-0 after three, spoiled Thanksgiving Day 26-14 in 1962. Chicago, ahead 16-0, triumphed 26-7 a year later.

More recently, the Cowboys, in front 15-0, persevered 21-6 on a Monday night during Green Bay’s Super Bowl run in 1996.

Green Bay’s lone victory occurred 60 years ago. On Oct. 27, 1957, Baltimore jumped in front 14-0 after 45 minutes of play. The Packers then stunned Johnny Unitas and the Colts with a 24-point fourth quarter barrage that included a 75-yard, Babe Parilli-to-Bill Howton touchdown pass with 29 seconds left.

Green Bay amassed more than 200 yards in that fourth quarter. It scored on each of its last four possessions.

The Packers’ closing effort against Baltimore was nothing of the kind. Green Bay never threatened except, perhaps, the notion that it is going anywhere this season.

Brett Hundley directed five drives. Two were halted by turnover, two culminated in punts and one ended in downs.

Green Bay ran 18 plays for 66 yards. Nine times it was held to no gain or was thrown for a loss.

Jamaal Williams and Devante Mays combined for nine yards rushing on four carries. Hundley completed six of 11 passes for 73 yards and was sacked three times. His passer rating was a miserable 37.3.

Terrell Suggs separated Hundley from the ball midway through the quarter. Another linebacker, C.J. Mosley, scooped up the fumble and romped 18 yards to set up Justin Tucker’s third field goal for a 16-0 Ravens’ lead.

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey then intercepted Hundley with two minutes, 17 seconds left. On the next play, Collins barreled into the end zone from three yards out and Baltimore went up 23-0.

Prior to Sunday, only three teams – the Chiefs (92 points), Lions (88) and Seahawks (86) – had scored more points than Green Bay (80) in the fourth quarter. The Ravens (81) now join that list.

Next up for Green Bay is Pittsburgh. The Steelers last held a team scoreless through three quarters just over a year ago.

The result was predictable. Pittsburgh had little trouble with the Chiefs, drubbing them 43-14 after cruising to a 36-0 advantage after three quarters of play.

Slim Pickings
The Packers have won only six times after having been held scoreless through three quarters and facing a deficit heading into the fourth. Only once have they emerged victorious when the deficit was 10 or more.

Date                   Opponent         Down      Final
Oct. 27, 1957     Colts                  0-14       24-21
Oct. 23, 1921     Marines               0-6          7-6
Nov. 12, 1922    Marines               0-6         14-6
Nov. 26, 1939    Rams                   0-6          7-6
Nov. 2, 1924      Legion                 0-3          6-3
Sept. 27, 1959    Bears                   0-3          9-6


  1. ...another interesting & enlightening story Eric! in the 6 game list is the Lombardi opening day victory in '59. You mentioned the victory over the 1st place Colts in '57....left corner Henry Moore was in the line-up due to injury to Taseff....the Kentucky Babe comes off the bench and throws deep up the sideline to B.Howton.

  2. Re: the first photo- I went looking for program sales at the Jets-Buccaneers game and did not find anything nor did I see any fans with a program.