Sunday, October 24, 2021

Washington Hits Dead Zone in Loss to Green Bay

 By Eric Goska

Elvis showed up prior to the Green Bay
Washington game at Lambeau Field

The Packers’ defense replaced one streak with another Sunday.

The turnaround bodes well if the team hopes to steal a victory or two during an upcoming brutal 5-game stretch that will last through November.

Green Bay held off Washington 24-10 at Lambeau Field to win its sixth straight and improve to 6-1. In doing so, the Packers weathered a second half in which they gave up ample yardage but not the end zone.

Piloted by quarterback Taylor Heinicke, Washington rolled up 283 yards on 48 plays after the break. After fumbling away their initial possession of the second half, the visitors responded with four straight trips inside Green Bay’s 20-yard line.

Ah, the red zone. Through six games, the Packers had surrendered a touchdown each of the 15 times their opponents had ventured there. This inability to defend the goal had taken on a life of its own.

That changed Sunday. Washington ran 17 plays inside Green Bay’s red zone and came away with one field goal, that a 45-yarder by Chris Blewitt with two minutes, 25 seconds remaining.

Washington ran six, four, three, and four plays on its trips inside the red zone. The team penetrated as far as the Green Bay 1, 3, 12, and 9.

Washington twice lost the ball on downs. It yielded an interception on another, that an end-zone pick by Packers’ defensive back Chandon Sullivan.

Blewitt’s field goal capped the last deep dive.

Coming out of the commercial after Sullivan’s pick, Fox Sports showed a clip of the Packers’ defensive coordinator Joe Barry holding up three fingers. “That’s three,” he yelled.

His unit would get one more. Not since the Eagles’ in 2013 had a Packers opponent gone 0-for-4 in the red zone in a regular-season game.

It was the fourth 0-for-4 notched by the Pack this century. In addition to Washington and Philadelphia, Chicago (2006) and Jacksonville (2001) also came up empty in four tries.

Maybe more impressive was the number of plays Green Bay had to endure to protect its end zone. Heinicke and Antonio Gibson combined to gain 17 yards on 7 rushes. Heinicke completed 4-of-8 passes for 24 yards (16.7 rating) and was sacked twice (minus-21).

Total, that’s 17 plays for 20 yards and two first downs. Not much to show for the nearly seven minutes Washington spent so tantalizingly close to paydirt.

Nearly 60 years have passed since the Packers withstood a greater assault without yielding a touchdown in the red zone. On Nov. 18, 1962, Johnny Unitas and the Colts ran 18 plays inside the Packers 20-yard line and came away with nothing more than a Dick Bielski field goal. A fumble, a sack and a fourth-down incompletion ended Baltimore’s other chances as it succumbed 17-13.

Having shut down Washington, Green Bay now gets a chance to extend its string of four straight red-zone denials against the unbeaten (7-0) Cardinals on Thursday night. And what a test that will be as Arizona has made more trips (32) inside the 20 than any team not named the Buccaneers.

Dead Zone
Since 1945, most plays an opponent has run in Green Bay’s red zone in a regular-season game without scoring a touchdown from there.
    No.    Yds        Opponent           Date                      Final
      18       24          Colts                      11-18-1962          GB won, 17-13
      17       20          Washington        10-24-2021          GB won, 24-10
      16       25          Chargers              10-24-1999          GB won, 31-3
      15       38          Steelers               10-26-1975          GB lost, 13-16
      15       10          Bears                     10-31-1993          GB won, 17-3
      15       18          Dolphins              9-14-1997            GB won, 23-18
      14       18          Vikings                  9-30-1973            GB lost, 3-11
      14       15          Rams                     9-5-1993               GB won, 36-6

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