Total View: Packers vs. Texans
Ed. note: Yes, we’re changing the name of TiVo Time to Total View. Why? TiVo is no longer used for game replays. And what the hell do we want to give TiVo free advertising for anyway? We’ve evolved with the times and now view the replays via the All-22 NFL coaches film.
For one night in Houston, the 2012 Green Bay Packers resembled the team that won 19 games in a row from 2010-11.
13:50, 1st quarter — The Houston Texans became the fifth Green Bay opponent this season to go three and out on their first possession.
Like the game against Chicago, the Packers defense gets a sack on the first play from scrimmage.
As they have in every game this season, the Packers start in their base defense. Going back to last year, teams have routinely run play action against the base and had great success, partially because the Packers typically drop their outside linebackers into coverage and none of the three down linemen are able to get pressure.
There isn’t a lot of pressure here, but there is good coverage. Andre Johnson is double-teamed and Owen Daniels is well-covered over the middle by A.J. Hawk. Matt Schaub thinks he sees a running lane and runs up only to get pounced on by C.J. Wilson for the sack.
It’s more of the same on 2nd down with D.J. Smith having good coverage on Johnson in the slot. Schaub feels some pressure from Wilson and throws it away.
The Texans then do the Packers a favor by running a draw on 3rd and 12. With the Packers dropping back instead of blitzing, this has no chance. Punt.
11:30, 1st quarter — The Packers score their first opening-drive TD of the season to take a quick 7-0 lead.
After starting with two Alex Green runs out of the shotgun, Aaron Rodgers picks up the initial 1st down of the game with a pass to Jordy Nelson on a simple turn out.
After Green gets 7 yards on another draw, the Packers stall near midfield when Rodgers misses an open James Jones up the far sideline — a play reminiscent to Rodgers missing Nelson up the sideline on the first drive against the Colts.
However, on the following Tim Masthay punt, Houston is lined up in the neutral zone and gifts the Packers a 1st down and new life.
Showing the kind of aggression that would characterize the Packers offense during this game, Rodgers immediately takes another shot down the sideline to Nelson one-on-one with Houston’s best corner, Jonathan Joseph. The pass is perfect this time and Nelson dives into the end zone with a 41-yard TD.
9:50, 1st quarter — The Texans go four and out to give it right back to the Packers.
On 3rd-and-6, Jerel Worthy beat his man at the line and burst upfield for the clean sack of Schaub. Mike Neal was also in for the passing down and would have sacked Schaub if Worthy didn’t get there first. This is exactly what the Packers need from both of these guys and exactly what the Packers didn’t have last season.
6:50, 1st quarter — The Packers get to the Houston 42 before having to punt.
This short drive included a 10-yard burst by Green and a beautiful conversion of a 3rd-and-15 where Rodgers escaped to his right and threw a bullet to Randall Cobb up the sideline for 16 yards.
The Packers would have to punt after Rodgers took another shot down the sideline to Nelson, which he overthrew, and then an unusual back-shoulder to Cobb that never had a chance.
3:00, 1st quarter — The Texans had to start from their 4 thanks to a Masthay punt and Jarrett Bush retrieve. They got their first 3rd down conversion of the game when Tramon Williams overplayed the in route only to have Schaub throw the ball outside to Johnson for 12 yards. That would be the lone highlight of their drive, as Clay Matthews would tackle Foster for a 2-yard loss on the next 2nd down. On 3rd-and-10, Matthews bursts up the middle causing Schaub to throw the ball away like a hot potato while running for his life. Punt.
00:25, 1st quarter — After a Cobb return gives the Packers starting field position at their 44, Aaron Rodgers dusts off his MVP card and the Packers go 56 yards in six plays for the 14-0 lead.
On the first play of this drive, Rodgers pulls a Favre by running into a sack, pulling a 180 to get out of it, and then rolling out to his left. He fires a missile down the middle of the field to a wide open Cobb who angles to the far sideline for a 24-yard gain.
One play after a throw away averted a drive-ending sack by Brooks Reed, Rodgers again runs to his left and throws a shovel pass to Tom Crabtree who dumptrucks Houston safety Troy Nolan on his way to picking up 14 yards.
The first was a 3rd-and-3 play where Houston runs the bunch play in the left flat. Charles Woodson rubs Sam Shields off his coverage of Kevin Walter. Walter gets the pass and goes for 16 yards.
On the very next play, instant pressure by Matthews is ruined when Daniels fakes the out on Hawk and runs the in instead. He is easily open for Schaub to dump it to as Matthews closes in. Hawk doesn’t bring Daniels down until 15 yards later.
After an Arian Foster stretch play right that gains only 1 yard, thanks to Wilson and Worthy, who are playing a man’s game against the run so far, the Packers blitz both Hawk and Smith. Hawk is immediately in Schaub’s face, who chucks it down the near sideline. The ball is overthrown, but the nearest referee calls Sam Shields for pass interference.
This is a break for the Texans. The replay reveals no such interference. I’m not sure what the refs have against Sam Shields. Maybe they don’t like his tattoo.
The Texans know how to block at the goal line and Foster strolls in two plays later to make it 14-7.
6:50, 2nd quarter — Rodgers and the Packers offense answers immediately with a 78-yard TD drive of their own.
Rodgers picked up a 3rd-and-inches on one of the ugliest QB sneaks you’ll ever see and then he converted a 3rd-and-2 with a comeback to Nelson for 10 yards.
On the very next play, Rodgers tried the deep shot again, this time for Jones, and the Packers were fortunate to pick up a pass interference of their own for an easy 28 yards.
This is also not pass interference to me, but Kareem Jackson never turned to look for the ball, which is what got him the flag.
The Texans stall after a false start followed by a fumbled snap gives them 3rd-and-14. They again play it conservatively with a dump to Foster that at least gets them in field goal range.
The Packers would fail to score in the last two minutes after an apparent 3rd down conversion became offensive pass interference on Jermichael Finley. However, they took up the remainder of the half, allowing no chance for Houston to get closer.
8:20, 3rd quarter — The Packers start the second half with a crazy 16-play, 80-yard drive for a TD.
The Packers look very much like the efficient 2011 Packers. They drive to the Houston 11 in six plays. When the Texans press with their safeties back, Rodgers finds Nelson or Cobb defeating the press coverage. When the Texans sit back in zone, Rodgers finds Nelson in front of the zone for easy completions.
With a 1st down at the Houston 11, the Texans blitz eight. The Packers have the perfect play call with Nelson running under Finley for a quick cross. It looks like an easy TD until Nelson drops the ball. If Nelson catches the ball, the drive would have been nine plays shorter.
The next play, Rodgers runs up the middle for a TD, and we get a rare title belt celebration. Unfortunately, Marshall Newhouse was beat at the line by Connor Barwin and had to tackle him to save Rodgers. The holding call wipes the TD off the board.
After two incompletions, one of which was just dropped by Finley, Mason Crosby kicks a 39-yard field goal to make it 24-10. But no, the same Connor Barwin leapt onto the back of an offensive lineman, resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving the Packers a 1st down.
After a sack backed up the Packers on what appeared to be a busted play or an early Christmas present for J.J. Watt, Cobb is stopped short of the 1st down and it looks like the Packers will be taking the field goal after all. But NO, Houston safety Danieal Manning, lame spelling and all, is caught slugging Newhouse at the bottom of the pile, which results in another 1st down for the Packers.
The madness ends two plays later when Rodgers tries the same play he tried to ice the Steelers in the Super Bowl with. This time Nelson gets up and makes a great catch. In the end, Nelson ended up getting the TD he should have had nine plays before.
5:50, 3rd quarter — The Texans get one 1st down and then punt. Their drive is skewered on successive plays by Hawk. On 1st-and-10 from the Houston 36, Foster runs up the middle to get stuffed by Hawk. On the next play, Schaub does a play-action fake only to look up and find Hawk right in his face. Hawk somewhat comically pushes Schaub to the ground for a 12-yard loss.
4:20, 3rd quarter — The Packers give the Texans a momentary reprieve by going three and out themselves. The key was they got nothing for once on 1st and 2nd down. On 3rd-and-10, Rodgers again finds Nelson, but he is tackled a half yard short of the 1st. Punt.
0:15, 3rd quarter — The Texans go 65 yards in nine plays to draw closer at 28-17 and give their fans one last thing to cheer about before heading home early.
The biggest play of the drive is the first one. Owen Daniels does a simple cross. Brad Jones doubles the slot receiver, who is covered by the safety, thus vacating his zone. Hawk is in zone coverage on the other side of the field. Daniels is wide open and the Packers defense doesn’t exactly exhibit blazing speed in tracking him down 27 yards later.
Some short passes to Johnson and Keshawn Martin follow. On a pass to Martin that gets to the 1, Shields again gets rubbed off by Woodson, freeing Martin. The Packers have to get that straightened out. You can’t play press on the inside receiver and off coverage on the outside receiver or this will happen every time they cross. Either Woodson needs to back off or Shields needs to play tighter and follow his receiver under the pick.
Foster scores on his second try from the 1.
14:45, 4th quarter — Just two plays into the 4th quarter, the Packers hit a big play to all but put the game away.
First of all, the Packers got to start this key drive on their own 46 thanks to a big return by Randall Cobb. That set the stage for what was to follow.
On the first play of the drive, Alex Green ran behind Bryan Bulaga and Josh Sitton for 9 yards.
After a Texans blitz netted an incompletion on 2nd down, the Packers faced a key 3rd-and-1 from the Houston 48.
Rodgers rolled to his right and just unloaded the ball before getting blasted by Reed. The ball floated perfectly to a WIDE OPEN Crabtree who strolled up the sideline for a 48-yard TD, perhaps flexing his muscles on the way there.
This was the biggest break of the game for the Packers. Houston safety, Glover Quin, who by my count has two surnames and no first name, had Crabtree in coverage but stumbled after making contact, perhaps demoralized by Crabtree’s tattoos. Either way, Crabtree was left all alone for the easy score and Rodgers’ heroism in getting him the ball rewarded the QB with his fifth TD of the game.
14:40, 4th quarter — On the second play of the next drive, Schaub would try the comeback route to Martin. Shields has none of it and dives in front for the INT. Packers’ ball at the Houston 27.
12:20, 4th quarter — The Packers waste little time in scoring. After two Green runs gain 5 yards each and a 1st down, Rodgers takes a shot at the end zone to a well-covered James Jones. Jones reaches in front of Jackson, tips the ball back to himself, and then covers the ball with his big mitts as he hits the ground.
This great catch gives Rodgers six TDs to remove Seattle’s backup QB from the top line of the Packers’ record book. It also gives Jones two TDs in three straight games.
For all practical purposes, this ends the game at 42-17. Many of the Texans fans head for the exits, eventually giving way to chants of “Go Pack Go!”
7:30, 4th quarter — The Texans drive down the field against an unconcerned defense, until Schaub makes the mistake of trying an end zone pass against Casey Hayward. Hayward swats it out of the air, intercepts it, and makes his lone mistake of the game by returning it to the 13.
The Packers offense takes the field with Rodgers mysteriously still at the helm. Even more mysteriously, after two Green plunges, Rodgers drops back to pass and is lucky when a knocked down ball goes incomplete.
World famous statisticians are still trying to figure out why Rodgers was throwing the ball here.
5:35, 4th quarter — The ensuing punt is blocked by Bryan Braman to make the final score look the same in a mirror — 42-24. That is Braman’s second blocked punt this season and after several tackles on kicks, I am ready to vote this guy the AFC Pro Bowl special teams player right now, if that game still exists.
3:40, 4th quarter — T.J. Yates is in for Houston, and he has mild success in moving their offense until getting picked by Hayward off the deflection by Jerron McMillian. That’s three INTs in limited time for the Packers rookie.
The Packers offense retakes the field with Graham Harrell in at QB to practice his hand offs. There’s also a rare James Starks and Jarrett Boykin sighting. Starks looks rusty, otherwise the same, while Boykin looks good except for that terrible number 11.
Fortunately for all involved, both teams conspire to run out the clock from that point forward.
The Packers might have put their season back on track by going on the road and beating one of the better teams in the league. Of course, that all depends on how they perform in St. Louis.
If any version of this Packers offense shows up against the Rams, the Packers should be in a good position to get to 6-3 at the bye.
Rodgers used this huge game to retort the critics, but after reading some of the comments he was responding to, I have yet to find any quotes that weren’t somewhat accurate. Rodgers WAS hesitant to throw the ball, hanging onto it too long, uncomfortable in the pocket, and at times, inaccurate. Press coverage doesn’t just pressure the receivers to get open. It challenges the QB to throw the ball into coverage even when there is little separation.
Rodgers did that in this game. He threw to his receivers, even when they were covered, and put the ball in places that gave them a chance to make a play. For the most part, his receivers responded.
Alex Green looked like a younger Cedric Benson. I was surprised, frankly, on how good this guy looked this soon. He was shifty, decisive, and ran with power. As someone who exclusively ran out of the shotgun formation in college, Green is a perfect fit for this offense.
The Packers have obviously improved their pass rush with Worthy, Neal and C.J. Wilson, who appears to be playing more like what the Packers were hoping for last season. Clay Matthews was a beast against the run and forced many incompletions and Shields’ INT with his pressures.
Casey Hayward is obviously the Packers best rookie right now. Sam Shields has been playing well, but I don’t know that he deserves to be above Hayward on the depth chart at this point. AND Davon House is still due to come back.
Guess what? Andrew Quarless could be back as early as next week. I think I am one of many Packers fans excited about seeing this guy back on the field. I believe most of us are ready for the end of the Jermichael Finley era, as bumpy and unfulfilling as it has been.
I said the Packers needed to be 2-1 on this three game road trip. They will be with a win at St. Louis. Let’s hope SOME of this game carries over to the next, and we see some more of the efficient, high-scoring Packers offense that applies pressure to the other team’s offense.
Shawn Neuser attended UWGB and lives and works in Green Bay. He enjoys long walks on the beach and being intimate with game film.