Thoughts from the Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers (11/12/2023)
Here are my thoughts from the Green Bay Packers 23-19 loss at the Pittsburgh Steelers today.
The outcome was disappointing and there were still quite a few mistakes, but the improvement was there. The offense had the best first half it’s had in weeks and the Packers team stayed in it until the final whistle and continued to fight even as things progressively went against them. Joe Barry’s defense struggled against the run early but once again kept the score close enough to make the game winnable and got a key stop (albeit thanks to a Pittsburgh penalty) at the end to give the offense one more shot. It’s going to be a long season but if we look at it as a rebuild year, the improvement is encouraging.
It looked like there was a very deliberate attempt to get receiver Christian Watson involved early and often, perhaps hoping he would repeat the performance he had during the second half of last season. I don’t think it worked out the way the Packers hoped. While I get he’s the team’s deep threat, he has missed a lot of time due to injury and it might be wiser to take advantage of his speed in other ways, on runs and quick slants, to get him in sync with Jordan Love.
It's also possible Christian Watson might be an afterthought by the end of the season since rookies Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks continue to perform at a reasonably high level. At minimum, Love seems comfortable getting them the ball when the game is on the line and that alone might reduce Watson’s playing time.
The Packers may have finally solved the void they’ve had at tight end for the past few years. Luke Musgrave is raw but is showing the size and speed that could test defenses. It’s exciting to think of the damage he’ll do once he has more experience.
The Pittsburgh drought continues. The last time the Packers won at the Steelers, Bart Starr was the quarterback and Terry Bradshaw was a rookie. It’s probably a good thing it’s not a yearly thing.
That blocked extra point was a difference maker. The Packers' final two drives in this game would have looked a whole lot different had they just needed a field goal to tie the game. Being down by four meant it was endzone or bust.
Aaron Jones wasn't a difference maker. Frankly, for one of the offense's few veteran players and a guy who is supposed to be one of its leaders, he didn't do a great job. The two dropped passes were what they were. Choosing to stay inbounds on a no-gain run play rather than trying to stop the clock when there's less than a minute left and your team has no time outs was something you would expect a rookie to do.