Here’s that dominating Green Bay Packers defense we’ve been looking for all season long.
Despite giving up several big plays in the passing game, the Packers’ defense forced three New York Jets turnovers, shut down their vaunted running game and shut out the Jets in a 9-0 win. The game improved the Packers to 5-3 and ended the Jets’ five-game win streak.
Despite the defensive display, which included interceptions by Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, sacks by Clay Matthews and Brandon Chillar, and a fumble recovery by Williams, the Packers offense was atrocious.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was unable to move the ball and finished an uninspiring 15-of-34 for 170 yards. Rodgers continued his recent trend of looking like he and his receivers haven’t practiced together all week long, overthrowing, underthrowing and generally putting the football in places where no one could catch it.
If there was anything positive that came from the Packers’ passing attack, it was that Greg Jennings continued to shine, catching six balls for 81 yards. Jordy Nelson also had his best game of the season, coming up with five catches for 55 yards.
Unfortunately, Donald Driver as again a non-factor. Driver put up a donut for the second week in a row. James Jones, who finished with more than 100 yards last week, followed up that performance by doing absolutely nothing. Jones had no catches and dropped a nearly perfectly thrown deep ball that hit him in the hands and would likely have been an easy touchdown.
Uncharacteristically, the Packers actually tried to establish the run throughout the game. The results were unimpressive — Brandon Jackson finished with 55 yards on 15 carries and John Kuhn had 21 yards on eight carries — but the philosophy seemed to keep the Jets and their vaunted blitzing defense off Rodgers, who was sacked only twice on the day.
For most of the afternoon, Rodgers had plenty of time to throw the football. The confounding thing is he couldn’t do much with it.
The Packers offensive line played well as a whole, but rookie Bryan Bulaga, who started at right tackle, looked completely lost at times. Although he wasn’t overpowered, Bulaga missed several assignments. If there’s a positive about his play, it’s that his mistakes are correctable.
Oddly enough, you could make an argument that punter Tim Masthay was the Packers MVP on the day. Masthay averaged 44 yards on eight punts and had a net of 41.5. He landed five of his kicks inside of the 20, while having his finest day as a member of the Packers.
In the end, Masthay helped the Packers win the field position battle, the defense came up with opportune turnovers and kicker Mason Crosby was good enough, hitting three of four field goals, for the Packers to win.
The two most telling stats were penalties and rushing defense.
The Packers did something they hardly ever have in the Mike McCarthy era — played virtually mistake-free football. The team finished with only three penalties for 15 yards.
They also shut down the Jets’ rushing offense, led by Desmond Bishop’s 10 tackles. LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for only 54 yards and Shonn Greene had only 22.
The numbers were nearly identical to those put up by the Packers’ backs and that’s saying something.
Although it wasn’t pretty to watch, the Packers came up with an important and unexpected win on Sunday, which may ultimately set the tone for the rest of the season.