Failure to capitalize on great starting field position doomed Packers

Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy. Ph...

Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy was not smiling about his offense’s execution in the game against the Bengals. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Monday Morning quarterbacks and Packers fans in general are trying to figure out how the team could create four takeaways, score 30 unanswered points, and still find a way to lose yesterday’s game to the Cincinnati Bengals, Well, here’s my two cents… this simple stat may be the answer.

The Packers yesterday had great starting field position on six drives. They started at their own 40, twice at their own 42 yard line, once at the Cincinnati 37, and twice inside the Cincinnati 30-yard line. And what did they have to show for those six great starting field positions? Two field goals. Six points. On the other four possessions, the Pack had two punts and two interceptions. Scoring only six points with six starting field possessions with 60 yards or less to go to score is I’m sure not what Mike McCarthy expected.

Here’s a little comparison to put this in perspective: In the first two weeks of the NFL season, there were 134 drives where teams started at their own 40-yard line or better. Of those, 79 resulted in either a TD or field goal (59% of the possessions). The Packers were two of six (only 33%). Of those 134 possessions, TDs were scored on 47 of those drives (35%). The Packers scored zero touchdowns in their six possessions from their own 40-yard line or better. Zero percent!

Scoring only six points on those six possessions was bad enough. But when you play in a close game and lose by only four points, every possession is important. To start at the Cincinnati 37-yard line, lose 15 yards and then have to punt the ball… there’s no excuse for not putting at least three points on the board when you have that kind of starting field position. Then to have to settle for two field goals when they started inside the Cincinnati 30, again… if you’re looking for why the Packers lost yesterday’s game, not capitalizing on great starting field position has to be a key factor.

One final stat: Teams that started two or more drives in their opponents’ territory in games were 18-3 the first two weeks of the NFL season.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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