Packers' first-half struggles on offense now carrying over to the second half

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers continued their habit for slow starts with perhaps their worst first-half performance yet.

Only this time, the offensive doldrums continued pretty much the whole game.

After failing to move the ball at all for the first 25 minutes of the game, the Packers continually wasted scoring opportunities down the stretch and fell 24-10 to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday for their fourth consecutive loss.

“It’s frustrating, man,” quarterback Jordan Love said. “I’m frustrated. Everybody in that locker room’s frustrated. Plain and simple, we’re not winning. We’re losing games, and it’s all games that we should be winning, I think, that we’re right there.”

The Packers (2-5) entered Sunday ranked at the bottom of the league in first-half scoring (4.3 points per game), but they led the NFL with 17.3 second-half points per game. They had rallied from halftime deficits to take the lead in each of their past two games before ultimately losing both.

They couldn’t rally this time, even though they had plenty of chances, particularly after Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was sidelined with a potential Achilles tendon injury.

Green Bay had a first down at the Minnesota 15 and second-and-5 from the 10 while trailing 24-10 in the fourth quarter. The Packers had a first down at the 15 again on their next series. They reached the Minnesota 34-yard line the next time they had the ball, which ended up being their last possession of the game.

The Packers scored on none of those drives, losing the ball on downs each time. They repeated the mistakes that have cost them throughout this skid.

“It’s not like, ‘What are we doing wrong?’ “ said Love, who went 24 of 41 for 229 yards with one touchdown pass and an interception. “It’s obvious on the film. We’re just not executing, not capitalizing on these opportunities that we have, and I think that’s the biggest thing as an offense. We’ve got to find ways to stay on the field, move those chains, make those big plays and help our defense out, keep them off the field. And we’re not doing a good job of that right now.”

That’s particularly true at the start of games.

The Packers have been outscored 73-9 in the first half of their past five games and were down 10-3 at the break Sunday. Their most recent first-half touchdown came in the second quarter of a 25-24 loss at Atlanta way back on Sept. 17.

With five minutes left in the second quarter, the Packers had just 26 yards in total offense. Green Bay’s struggles caused a shift on the offensive line, with Yosh Nijman taking over for Rasheed Walker at left tackle.

The Packers finally got a first down on their fifth series of the game with just over four minutes left in the first half, drawing a sarcastic round of applause from the Lambeau Field crowd.

“I know everybody’s frustrated,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “I’m frustrated. It’s certainly not for lack of effort, but ultimately this game, that only gets you so far. You’ve got to go out there and execute and give yourself an opportunity to win games.”

Green Bay gave itself an opportunity in narrow losses at Denver and Las Vegas because its offense finally woke up in the second half. The Packers never could get going Sunday.

They finally scored on Anders Carlson’s 30-yard field goal to end the first half to cut Minnesota’s lead to 10-3, but they followed that up with an interception that helped the Vikings break the game open. The Packers trailed 24-3 by the time they reached the end zone late in the third quarter, with Love throwing a 1-yard pass to Romeo Doubs on fourth-and-goal.

The Packers couldn’t return to the end zone all game, no matter how close they got. Now they have to figure out how long it’s going to take for them to finally end this skid and put together a complete performance on offense.

“You’ve just got to fight,” Doubs said. “You’ve got to fight through these snowballs. This is the ultimate test, to see if we are made of something or if this is a complete breakdown.”

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl