Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling fumbled on the second play of overtime against the Colts on Sunday. Indianapolis safety Julian Blackmon recovered. Green Bay lost 34-31 after Rodrigo Blankenship nailed the game-winning field goal.
Valdes-Scantling took the blame, and he responded with a tweet that could serve his team well for the remainder of the regular season.
Thank You God. Without failure there is no growth.
— Marquez V-S (@MVS__11) November 23, 2020
That was a rare burst of accountability on a platform that rushed to condemn the receiver for Green Bay’s second-half meltdown.
The Packers dropped to 7-3 and missed a chance to take a three-game lead in the NFC North. They no longer have the top seed in the NFC playoff standings.
Valdes-Scantling was the easy scapegoat. That feeling spilled over into coach Matt LaFleur’s postseason press conference when he was asked a question about Valdes-Scantling that read more like a tweet.
Reporter: “Matt, I hate to be blunt, but how can you live with MVS?”
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) November 23, 2020
What kind of question is that? Valdes-Scantling’s fumble was the last miscue of a day where the Packers made more than enough mistakes to go around after building a 28-14 halftime lead. Green Bay must collectively deal with that before a “Sunday Night Football” matchup against rival Chicago in Week 12. For what it’s worth, Aaron Rodgers defended Valdes-Scantling afterward.
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This is a lesser version of what unfolded after Brandon Bostick botched an onside kick in the NFC championship game loss to the Seahawks in January 2015. That mistake capped a fourth-quarter meltdown that prevented Rodgers from reaching the Super Bowl for the second time. Bostick received death threats later, but the same conclusion can be drawn:
Bostick did not lose the game. MVS did not lose the game. The Packers did, both times.
Green Bay ran six offensive plays in the third quarter Sunday. Indy piled up 25 plays for 125 yards in that stretch and dominated time of possession. Colts quarterback Philip Rivers finished 24 of 36 for 288 yards, with three touchdowns and an interception. Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was trending on Twitter, too.
Darrius Shepherd fumbled a kickoff in the fourth quarter that led to an Indianapolis go-ahead field goal. Rodgers missed Jamaal Williams on a fourth-and-1 pass that could have been a running play. The Packers had a chance to win on the game’s final drive after the Colts committed four holding penalties on a potential game-closing drive.
Mason Crosby’s tying field goal in the final seconds of regulation does not happen if Valdes-Scantling does not make a 47-yard catch on third-and-10 from the Green Bay 6.
Yes, the fumble was costly. No, Valdes-Scantling is not the Packers’ biggest issue right now. Not even close.
The defense remains suspect, the offense missed on two third downs in the third quarter, and the special teams need improvement. If those issues are not fixed, then Green Bay will fall short in the playoffs again.
The loss could haunt the team later in terms of playoff seeding, but when healthy the offense stacks up with the best in the NFC. Valdes-Scantling will be one of the keys to Green Bay proving once and for all that it is a Super Bowl contender.
If that does not happen, then the blame will go in the usual misplaced direction. It always falls on Rodgers, even if it also should fall on the Packers’ organization.
Green Bay chose not to make a trade for another receiver at the deadline, and Valdes-Scantling had nine catches for 257 yards and three TDs in Green Bay’s last three games. He is a vertical complement to Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, the latter of whom returned this week.
Unlike Bostick’s miscue in the NFC championship game, Valdes-Scantling’s fumble is not the end of the season. In fact, judging by the way the receiver handled it, this could be a moment that galvanizes Green Bay for the next six weeks. Judging by the way Aaron Jones consoled Valdes-Scantling on the sideline afteward, that message is being sent.
“Without failure there is no growth.”
Yeah, Valdes-Scantling said it best.
For the Packers, these can be words to learn by.