LONDON (AP) — Aaron Rodgers had warned before the Packers’ trip to London that the team’s habit of only putting together one good offensive half per game wasn’t sustainable.
The New York Giants proved him right.
Rodgers and his offense were shut out in the second half for the second time in three games and Green Bay’s defense couldn’t bail him out this time as the Giants (4-1) erased a 10-point halftime deficit to beat the Packers 27-22 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.
Green Bay led 17-3 in the first half and 20-10 at halftime, but didn’t score again until a deliberate safety by the Giants in the final seconds.
“It was the tale of two halves,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “They kicked our butt in the second half.”
It’s not the first time that’s happened this season.
In Week 3, Tampa Bay also held Green Bay (3-2) without a score in the second half, but the Packers still held on for a 14-12 win after a defensive stop on a 2-point conversion. Last week it was the opposite story: the Packers struggled offensively in the first half then came alive in the second to beat New England in overtime.
“Offensively, we haven’t put two halves together,” Rodgers said. “There’s a lot that factors into that — everything from calls to execution, to the momentum, to defensive stops to adjustments that we make. … There’s games like this where our defense is not going to be up to their normal standards and we’ve got to pick them up. And we had chances — a lot of chances.”
The Giants did their best to limit those chances, using the clock in the second half by putting together three straight long scoring drives to go up by 7 at 27-20 with 6:08 left in the fourth quarter.
The Packers were in position to score on their first drive in the second half before Rodgers was sacked to take them out of field-goal range. They went three-and-out on the next drive after three straight incomplete pass attempts. On their final drive, they drove down the field, but were stopped on the Giants 6-yard-line after two straight passes by Rodgers were deflected by defenders.
Rodgers finished 25 of 39 for 222 yards and two touchdowns. But he failed to connect with his receivers on a number of deep throws, another recurring theme this season.
“We’re just not quite on the same page at times,” Rodgers said about why the team is struggling to go deep. “We got to go back and look at it. I don’t want to make a blanket statement right now. Definitely not an emotional blanket statement.”
However, Rodgers defended the decision to go for all pass plays on the three-and-out series as the Packers moved away from the run game.
“I do like all three of those calls, 100%. And I felt like we were really close to executing,” Rodgers said. “There was at least two opportunities to get first downs there.”
The offense wasn’t entirely at fault. The Green Bay defense came into the game ranked No. 1 in the NFL on third downs, but couldn’t get a stop in the second half.
And they allowed Giants quarterback Daniel Jones to run 10 times for 37 yards despite playing with a sore ankle, including several scrambles for first downs. After opening the game with consecutive three-and-outs, New York scored on its next five drives.
“They executed off a lot of our mistakes,” Packers linebacker Preston Smith said. “They had opportunities to get first downs when we could have executed a lot better.”