Sunday, December 2, 2012

Packers fight back and win after trailing to the hated Vikings. It only gets harder, kids.

The Green Bay Packers knew that they were going to face a pretty one-dimensional team on Sunday. With Percy Harvin watching from the state of Minnesota, the Vikings were going to win or lose this critical North Division match on the legs of Adrian Peterson. Christian Ponder wasn’t going to beat anybody with his arm. So you can imagine that Packer defensive coaching staff clustered around their laptops, dialing up all the eight- nine- and and ten-man fronts in their arsenal. 

Aside from the crap the defense put on the field last weekend, the Packer stalwarts have been pretty good against the run this year, so you’d think without much of a passing threat, AP would be kept in check, right? WRONG! Peterson ran for a two-season high of 210 yards and chipped in for another ten through the air. Two MASSIVE runs (including an 82-yard scoring scamper) made up the bulk of it but you have to question the focus of the Packer defense if they know who is getting the ball and still cannot keep him corralled. The TD was a play that should have been finished in the Minnesota backfield but awful tackling and some comic collisions by would-be defenders. 

The missing pieces of the defensive puzzle (Matthews, Woodson) have been sorely missed in the last two weeks and you have to start hoping those two guys can make it back sooner than later.

On the offensive side of the ball, the return of Greg Jennings certainly had an effect on the passing game (he had four catches for 46 yards) but I can’t really say he was too impactful. The good news was that Aaron Rodgers was able to hit nine different receivers for 286 yards and 1 TD and the offensive philosophy of spreading the field (instead of just watching where Cobb went) and short, quick passes (he was sacked only twice) certainly looked worlds removed from the “swing for the fences on every down” that failed so miserably last week. The makeshift offensive line was not great, but they certainly were not awful. Losing TJ Lang to injury forced Don Barclay (and a weary Packer nation collectively says “who???”) into a major roll. Most telling of all was the 152 yards rushing, thanks to workman-like efforts by Starks and Green, the former scoring only the third Packer rushing touchdown of the year on a great 22-yard run.

Aside from the critical loss of Lang, another injury that will have an adverse affect on future games will be the loss of Jordy Nelson. Injured on a sideline tackle after his one and only catch, Nelson immediately knew he had a problem and his body language on the bench spoke of something fairly substantial. With Donald Driver inactive due to a thumb injury, the weight of the offense fell upon Cobb, Jones and Finely. No one man carried the entire load as it was shared all around. But you have to worry going forward if Nelson is out again that the newly-recovered Jennings will need to be 100% on every snap for the Packers to be successful.

Mason Crosby had a better-than-average day, going 3-for-4, one of the made attempts doinking off the right upright and in. For better or worse, it’s going to be an adventure on every attempt this year. I can’t decide if I’m impressed or disgusted by Mike McCarthy’s continued trust in his kickers’ erratic leg, but it is what it is, I guess. He did contribute 11 points to he win (three field goals and two extra points), more than any other player including Aaron Rodgers, so you have to give the guy some credit, don’t you?

With the Bears getting beat in overtime by the Seahawks, the Packers once more slip into first place with Minnesota falling back and Detroit in danger of becoming irrelevant this season. You can’t help but like the position the Packers are in: first in the division with four games to play and one contest with the only team within reach. After the on-field excrement from last week, this game against the Vikings had all the hallmarks of a must-win. It certainly wasn’t easy but you have to give the Packers credit for putting that loss behind them and focusing on what they can control: the next game. The problems are still there (offensive line is suspect and paper-thin, no pass rush without Matthews, wide-outs can’t get open, defense susceptible to the big play) and there will be no fixes. Yes, we can hope Woodson and Matthews can get back in on defense but the O-line will finish the season with the guys they have. So each and every week will be a struggle. We all hope that the struggle will make them stronger. 

No comments:

Post a Comment