Special teams miscues hurt Packers

December, 22, 2013
12/22/13
11:55
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Nick Perry's encroachment penalty with one minute and 35 seconds remaining in Sunday's 38-31 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers might have been the most inopportune special teams miscue.

But it wasn’t the only one.

With the Steelers lined up for a 28-yard field goal, the Green Bay Packers linebacker -- a regular on the field goal block team -- jumped and the officials threw a flag. The 5-yard penalty on fourth-and-3 from the Packers’ 10-yard line in what was a game tied at 31-31 gave the Steelers a first down and 10 seconds later running back Le’Veon Bell scored the go-ahead touchdown.

“It’s an undisciplined play,” Perry said. “I jumped, and they capitalized on the play. You know, I’ve got nothing. It’s a bum play. It happened. Gotta look forward.”

Perry said he thought he saw the snapper move the ball.

Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum’s units had plenty of other problems on a snowy, windy day at Lambeau Field.

Among them were:
  • The Steelers’ perfect execution of a fake punt in the third quarter, when punter Mat McBriar threw a 30-yard pass to tight end David Paulson. Another 15 yards was tacked on after Packers backup tight end Jake Stoneburner was called for roughing McBriar. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger scored on the next play, a 13-yard scramble.
  • Mason Crosby’s 23-yard field goal in the third quarter that was blocked, although that actually worked in the Packers’ favor when the Steelers were called for illegally batting the ball out of bounds after it was blocked. The Packers scored a touchdown on the next play, a 2-yard Eddie Lacy run.
  • Allowing a 41-yard punt return and a 46-yard kickoff return to Steelers returner Emmanuel Sanders.

“I think when you see the way weather can kind of affect special teams, it’s difficult to play sometimes,” said Packers fullback John Kuhn, one of their top special teams players. “They threw some punches, and we threw some punches back. That’s kind of the way it went.”

Of the fake punt, Kuhn said: “I felt they executed a good play for their punter to make a throw like that in these kind of conditions. They made the play. We didn’t.”

Crosby said he believes his plant foot slipped and the ball came out low on the blocked field goal. He admitted he wasn’t sure the Packers would get the ball back even after the Steelers' penalty.

“I didn’t know what the situation was going to be,” he said. “Obviously just disappointed not hitting that kick, but we got a touchdown out of it, so it ended up being beneficial to us.”

It wasn’t a total washout on special teams. Rookie kick returner Micah Hyde had kickoff returns of 33, 39 and 70 yards -- all better than the Packers’ previous season best of 31 yards.

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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