Total View: Packers vs. Titans
The Tennessee Titans took their game checks and ran while the Green Bay Packers moved to 11 wins and one game away from a playoff bye.
10:50, 1st quarter — The Titans win the toss and take the ball. They then proceed to go three and out.
On 1st down they try a quick slant to Kenny Britt, which gets knocked down by B.J. Raji. On 2nd down they try a lead draw to Chris Johnson. Perhaps energized by seeing former Packers fullback Quinn Johnson again, A.J. Hawk blows Johnson up and stuffs the play for a 1-yard loss. On 3rd down Jake Locker tries to run for it, but Clay Matthews is spying him on the play and tackles him for no gain, which counts as Matthews 12th sack of the season.
After a short punt and a decent return by Randall Cobb, the Packers started the game at their 42-yard line. They pick up one 1st down and then punt themselves.
After a slant to Cobb from the slot gets a 1st down, the Packers hand it off to DuJuan Harris on an inside trap play. T.J. Lang pulls across the formation and opens a hole on the right side, but Harris plunges straight ahead instead and only gets 2. On 3rd-and-7, Cobb can’t grab a high pass on the cross and the Packers punt it from the Titans’ 42.
6:55, 1st quarter — After another Titans three and out featuring two Tennessee penalties, the Packers basically get a redo, starting again just beyond their 40. This time they go 56 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead.
Ryan Grant runs fuel the drive. He looks more flat-footed and less explosive than his prior stint with the Packers, but Grant reads his blocking better than any other Packers back and runs hard. Grant follows a 6-yard run over the left side with an 18 yarder around the left end, where Jermichael Finley did well to come off a double team and block the end.
After Grant carried a couple defenders to the Titans’ 6, Rodgers ran it in from the empty set. I’m not a huge fan of this play on 2nd-and-1. Titans’ safety Al Afalava appears to have a chance to deliver a big hit at the goal line, but he takes a conservative angle and whiffs on the hit. Regardless, Rodgers gets in unscathed for the score and does a mini-title belt.
4:34, 1st quarter — After the Titans go backwards and punt, it only takes the Packers three plays to score again and go up 14-0.
A poor punt set the Packers up at the Titans’ 43. Three passes would get them into the end zone.
The Packers game plan thus far has been to throw short passes on 1st down and then run on 2nd-and-short. This works perfectly as a quick dump to Jennings gets 8 yards, down to the Titans’ 20, giving the Packers 2nd-and-2. From there, Rodgers fakes the run, sprints out of the pocket to his right and fires an accurate dart to Cobb for the 20-yard score.
3:23, 1st quarter — The Titans manage a successful offensive play when Jake Locker scrambles up the left sideline for 22 yards. On the very next play, however, Locker gets pressure in his face by Raji and throws it up for Kenny Britt. Sam Shields has beneath coverage and makes a great interception.
The Packers follow with a three and out. On 1st down Rodgers scrambled to his right again and heaved it downfield for Cobb. Cobb got loose, but dropped the ball. After a handoff to Grant got 2 yards, the Titans blitzed six on 3rd-and-8. T.J. Lang got cleanly beat by defensive lineman Mike Martin, who sacked Rodgers. Punt.
0:45, 1st quarter — No matter, as the Titans merely escalate their offensive performance from inept to debauchery.
On 1st-and-10 Chris Johnson tries to run around the left end and gets crushed by Matthews for a loss of 3. Johnson is hurt on the play, but unwisely returns to the game later on. On 2nd-and-13 the Packers blitz Hawk and Casey Hayward. When two guys are needed to block Matthews, looping inside, Hawk comes clean and gets the sack. On 3rd-and-20 the Titans are merely trying to dump it off and punt, but the Locker pass goes off the arms of his receiver and right into the breadbasket of Erik Walden. Walden returns it to the Titans’ 14.
14:40, 2nd quarter — The Packers give Mason Crosby the opportunity for a chippy and he converts that to make the score 17-0.
After a 6-yard pass to James Jones on 1st down, Rodgers had plenty of time on 2nd and 3rd down, but threw the ball away both times. The Titans dropped into coverage and did a good job covering everyone. Crosby trotted out and made the 26-yard field goal without drama.
10:22, 2nd quarter — The Titans actually get something rolling, mostly thanks to hard runs by backup running back Jamie Harper. They reach the Packers’ 31 before going for it on 4th-and-1 and failing.
After Mike Daniels helped stuff Quinn Johnson on 3rd-and-1, the Titans decided to try a quick slant to Damian Williams. He is covered well by Tramon Williams, the ball is thrown too far inside and it isn’t even close.
4:40, 2nd quarter — The Packers actually take some time off the clock by going 39 yards in 13 plays, finishing with a long field goal to make it 20-0 at half.
On 3rd-and-7 near midfield, Rodgers wisely dumps it down to John Kuhn, who picks up 9. The Packers then picked up a 4th-and-1 with a run by Grant over T.J. Lang for 2 yards.
On 3rd-and-5 from the Titans’ 30, Rodgers stood in against a blitz and fired a perfect back shoulder pass to Finley, but Finley failed to disengage from his defender and took the pass off the side of his helmet.
This presented a perfect opportunity for Crosby to make a long kick with little chance of poor consequences. He struck the 48-yarder hard enough for it to deflect through when it hit the inside of the right upright.
The Titans would have the ball for the majority of the remainder of the half, but they were never able to get into Packers territory.
12:04, 3rd quarter — The Packers take the second half kickoff and go 60 yards in six plays to put the game away at 27-0.
On the second play of the drive, Rodgers found Cobb wide open on a seam route from the right slot for 31 yards. A couple plays later, Finley took a simple out, got a block from Cobb, and went up the right sideline for 13 yards down to the Titans’ 9. Two plays later it is stretch play right to Harris. Don Barclay and Finley push the end nearly all the way to the sideline and Josh Sitton generally just gets in the way on the second level. Harris uses his quickness to exploit the gap and goes nearly untouched for the TD.
The Titans would essentially tap out at this point.
5:50, 3rd quarter — After another Hawk sack forces a punt, the Packers go 71 yards in seven plays to deepen the humiliation at 34-0.
It seems Rodgers always has the option of throwing to the sideline underneath the coverage and he does that twice to Jones for 31 yards to move the ball into Titans territory.
From the Titans’ 35, Rodgers dumps it to Grant on a cross. It seems to take a moment for the Titans to decide someone should chase Grant down. He gets to the Titans’ 1 before being pushed out of bounds.
As seems to be a strategy this season, the Packers hurry to the line. The Titans don’t feel like hurrying and get someone out to cover Greg Jennings too late. He easily steps around the defender and scores.
14:15, 4th quarter — At this point, a college game is breaking out. The Titans pick up one 1st down before a Mike Neal sack on 3rd down brings on another punt. The Packers then go 80 yards in eight plays to go up 41-0.
The Titans actually remain stout against the run, but their defensive backfield is either confused, overwhelmed, unconcerned or all three. Rodgers goes six for six on the drive, starting with a 27-yarder to James Jones where he weaved through the defense and ending with a 12-yard TD to Jones on a run-pass option.
That would end the day for Aaron Rodgers and many other Packers starters, but it wouldn’t end the pain for the Titans.
12:35, 4th quarter — The Packers stick with the plan of blitzing on 3rd down and this time Sam Shields, of all people, flies through and sacks Locker.
On the punt, Jeremy Ross, thus far only known for dropping a pass from Cobb, gets to the left sideline and breaks a couple tackles in returning the ball all the way to the Titans’ 7.
Ryan Grant would score on the following play. This is an old-fashioned 25 trap. The offensive line slant blocks to the right. Josh Sitton pulls and kicks out the left defensive end. John Kuhn follows Sitton and seals the outside linebacker, creating a gap between Marshall Newhouse and Sitton and Kuhn. Grant punches untouched through that gap to make it 48-0.
Ryan Grant takes a Lambeau Leap. Who saw that coming a month ago?
6:30, 4th quarter — The Titans are in four-down mode now, though I don’t know why. In this case, it only makes it easier for the Packers to tack on another score. The Titans don’t even pick up one 1st down and go four and out. The Packers take over at the Titans’ 33.
The Packers basically run it in from there. The Titans run defense might not be giving up so much as just getting tired. Graham Harrell is on and only needs to throw one pass — a 9-yarder to Jones. Grant takes it from there, eventually scoring on a 9-yard scamper around the left end.
That makes it 55-0.
Yes, somehow the Titans sneak Kenny Britt past the Packers secondary and get a TD late to deny the shutout. However, no one cares except those who have the Packers defense in fantasy football.
It was obvious that Mike McCarthy wanted to use this game to build momentum for his team, which is why the Packers stayed aggressive all the way to the end of the 3rd quarter. McCarthy has preached all season about the importance of playing well at the end of the season. Certainly this game is some indication that is happening. The game next week against a Vikings team needing to win to make the playoffs will be an even better indicator.
More than any other team all season, the Titans came out of their two-deep shell often against the Packers. This made it easier for Rodgers to complete those short passes on 1st down that put the offense in rhythm and generated easy down and distance situations.
This is mostly a result of the Packers running the ball more effectively. Seemingly, regardless of who actually totes it, the Packers have developed their running attack into a weapon that teams have to account for. I expect the Packers to continue to run at any team that plays six near the line and drops back, including the Vikings this week.
The Packers were aggressive on defense, blitzing on nearly every 3rd down in a variety of fashions. It worked spectacularly against a terrible offensive line. Regardless of the opponent, the variety is something offenses will have to prepare for.
Primarily, the Packers have a defense that is playing better, approaching the top 10 in the league. They also have a quarterback who has played two of his best games of the season in the past two weeks. Those two things make the Packers a dangerous team whether they keep playing or have the bye.
However, probably more important than seeding or the bye, the Packers mainly want to maintain their level of play, which has won them nine of their last 10 games.
Shawn Neuser attended UWGB and lives and works in Green Bay. He enjoys long walks on the beach and being intimate with game film.