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Packers Show Their Mettle in the Divisional Showdown

It didn’t fully dawn on me until Monday morning that Green Bay was about to face its greatest challenge in the last three years – that covers nearly 50 games. Forget all of the ups and downs, the ugly wins, the at times suspect offense, and defense, and special teams. Monday night was a chance for this unique team to rectify all wrongs.

The sports pundits didn’t believe in this club. Neither did the betting establishment. But the ones who counted, the players, obviously believed in themselves. From the opening of the game, in an atmosphere of almost manic fervor for the home team, the Packers were undaunted.

When all three of the Packers’ offensive stars committed early turnovers, the team remained undaunted. Who can even recall the last time a Packers’ defense applied such a stranglehold on such a worthy opponent? Someone will have to research how many team records were recorded during the beatdown at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Packers RB Aaron Jones

Dec 23, 2019; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Déjà Vu

In Week 2 on September 15, the rushing line on Aaron Jones was: 23 carries, 116 rushing yards, a touchdown, and a long run of 15 yards. Once again at this second meeting Jones had 23 carries, but this time he upped the yardage to 154, the touchdowns to a pair, and he turned in the team’s longest run of the year, the 56-yard scoring dagger.

I could reprise at least a dozen “Told You So” quotes from TP, but let me make a point out of this recent one, made just a day before the big game:

“Heavy usage of Aaron Jones was the deciding factor in Green Bay’s narrow 21-16 victory. Will this again be true on Monday night? Put another way, has Matt LaFleur learned anything in the past three months?”

Amid all the joy and celebration, I must inject this one discordant note: our otherwise wonderful head coach STILL has a blind spot concerning Aaron Jones. And so does the TP commenter who rendered this opinion on Sunday:

“I just don’t think Aaron Jones is THAT good, and why I think it would not be a good idea to give him big money.”

But for Jamaal Williams suffering an injury in the second half, it is probable that Williams, not Jones, would have been in there, sharing the load, as the game wound down to under six minutes remaining. Fortuitously, the coach was unable to platoon his running backs, and the ball got handed off to Jones. He headed wide left, then cut inside, and then made an even better cut back to the outside – like an Olympic skier, he made the game-clinching slalom look easy, though it wasn’t.

How many game-deciding Jones highlights will it take, Matt? Aaron has made plays like this countless times during the last seven years, four at UTEP, and three with Green Bay. You can’t execute a game-breaking play from the sidelines. These can happen at any time with Jones, which is why he needs to be on the field as much as possible. Jamaal played another fine game, but he could not have pulled off this beauty.

And by the way, to you Jones-needs-to-be-rested holdouts, did he look tired to you as he left the entire Minnesota defense far behind as he sprinted down that sideline?

Packers LB Za'Darius Smith sacks Vikings QB Kirk Cousins

Dec 23, 2019; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Green Bay Packers linebacker Za’Darius Smith (55) sacks Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Atonement

How bizarre it was that the Packers’ three offensive stars all coughed the ball up in the early going? And what happy endings they had: Jones was the difference-maker, but Davante Adams also had a career night: 13 catches on 16 throws, for 116 yards. And mainly due to those crisp and well-timed throws, Aaron Rodgers was able to control the ball, keep drives going, and help limit the Vikes to time of possession of just 22:28, versus Green Bay’s 37:32.

Not only was the Minnesota offense thoroughly frustrated, but their defense was utterly fatigued by the time the fourth quarter came around.

Moving Forward

This team showed on Monday night that they could overcome a crazed crowd of Norsemen, a formidable home field advantage, a whole country of nay-sayers, and even three early turnovers.

In this year of seemingly endless playoff scenarios, what looked like a long shot just days ago is suddenly a probability: Green Bay appears in line for a number 1 or 2 postseason seeding. And it should be mentioned that this is a team that includes Za’Darius and his happy band of quarterback marauders.

Green Bay saved its grittiest performance for its most critical game of the season. A Lombardi trophy is no longer too big a dream for this group. It was a great team effort, and one that will surely instill these players with a world of confidence heading into the playoffs. Bravo!

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Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”

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21 Comments

  1. Cheese in Central Asia December 24, 2019

    I think it is a dirtbag move to go to other teams’ websites and taint them. But that doesn’t mean I can’t read them and drink the sweet, salty Norseman tears. Yum yum.

  2. Henkster December 24, 2019

    I must say after last nights defensive beat down I think this team has a chance.Yes Jones needs to get 20+ carries and Rodgers needs to play better and stay within the game plan(vs running around and looking for the big throw), but if we can hold teams to less than 17 points we have a shot. D will carry this team if AR just plays within the scheme.

  3. Cheese in Central Asia December 24, 2019

    Taunt them Not taint

  4. Howard December 24, 2019

    I don’t know what it is about Monday night this year, but you don’t usually commit three turnovers and win a game. The Packers did it twice on Monday night this year. Those would have been loses for the Packers the last few years.

  5. Howard December 24, 2019

    Is it just me or was this one of the better tackling performances by the Packers. I have to believe this would be one of the fewest “missed tackle” games by the defense this year, or the last few years. It was great to see DBs come up and make immediate tackles. Good job by King and the other DBs.
    On a fast track with good footing the Defense appeared more decisive.

  6. Skinny December 24, 2019

    Zadarious should be the defensive player of the year too. All this Stephon Gilmore talk is a joke. Zadarious has been a wrecking ball all season. I haven’t seen a defensive guy that is constantly relentless and violent in his play in years. What a great player! Hes basically the millennial version of LT.

    1. KILLER December 24, 2019

      Ah, no. Talk of Za’Darius Smith being DPY is just like that earlier talk of Aaron Jones being OPY. Silly.

      Smith has played very well, no doubt. However, he has taken a ton of penalties as well and those count. Each penalty is like a minus one sack, think of it that way. He’s had five so that’s minus five sacks. There are five (5) — FIVE players with more sacks than him. One of them has 5.5 more sacks ! Four of those five players have more forced fumbles. One has seven more than Smith and one of them has six more FF ! Two of the players with more sacks have interceptions as well, one had two and one has one and Smith has none. Smith does nothing in pass coverage. He basically just blitzes every play and half a dozen of his sacks have come unblocked — anyone else in his spot running forward also would have obtained those sacks unless they can’t tackle. Smith also has no fumble recoveries and four of the five players with more sacks than him have fumble recoveries, one of them has four.

      Danielle Hunter has 16 more tackles, 1 more sack, 4 fewer penalties, 3 more forced fumbles, and 1 more fumble recovery than Smith. Danielle Hunter leads a higher ranked defense and a higher ranked pass defense. Yes, even after last night.

      What Gilmore has done is historic. I think he deserves it. However, Chandler Jones has a great case. I think third is T.J. Watt. Fourth is Hunter. Fifth is Cameron Jordon.

      Smith is very good in a system that gives him lots of extra opportunities, but he is not a Top 5 defender. At linebacker I think Bobby Wagner has a case as better than Smith. His ability is certainly much more broad-based and flexible — he can do more and has done more in many categories, things tougher than running at a QB, for instance defending 7 passes from middle linebacker. A PD (pass defense) is basically the pass coverage equivalent to a sack.

      Aaron Donald’s 12.5 sacks from DT is MUCH more impressive than Smith’s 13.5 “blitz” sacks. He also has more FF, FR, and a safety than does Smith. So, yeah, Donald is above Smith as a candidate.

      In the secondary those who at their own positions have played better than Smith at his include Gilmore, both Minnesota safeties, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Tre’Davious White.

      So, you could make an argument Smith is a Top 10 defender. On the generous side, I’d put him at #10 and above H. Smith and Fitzpatrick but it would be quite fair to put Smith at #12.

      1. PF4L December 24, 2019

        I had to stop at -5 sacks…l guess he’s the only player in the league with sacks, that’s been called for penalties…Lonely Boy logic…lmao
        ***
        I’ll assume the rest of his post deals with getting rolled and embarrassed by the Packers at home on MNF as the Nation watched. Probably feels like a NFCCG against the Eagles. OUCH.
        *
        WAIT…if i remember…this was the queens Super Bowl!! Oh well….nothing new there amirite.

        1. Dude Looks Like A Viqueen December 25, 2019

          The Queens fans are Godless and with out hope. If they get to the super bowl again they will surely choke like the last 4 times.

          The prior coach Pudd Grunt and QB Frank Tarkington did tremendous damage to that pathetic organization.

          Make no mistake, the Packers game was their super bowl and they lost again. Maybe we can print the ViQueen players names on the ass wipe in the women’s bathroom at Canton Ohio.

          This year Wisconsin has taken the Axe into their possession (I.e., Badgers) and now swept the season series to win the NFL North title on their turf.

          They have no honor.

      2. Ferris December 24, 2019

        We all sincerely want you to get some help. Your home life must be awful, reclusive and sad. I am finished razzing you, I just truly feel sorry for you.

      3. SCPKRFAN December 24, 2019

        I noticed you left out Blake Martinez in your “stat” attack.

      4. Kato December 24, 2019

        Serious question to the person that gave themself the nickname”killer”. Are you retarded? Because the more I read your posts, that is the conclusion I am coming up with

  7. Howard December 24, 2019

    Speaking of joy and celebration did anyone notice what the offensive line did on the final three kneel downs?
    1st kneel down Bulaga (RG) and Bakhtiari (LG) switched positions with Turner (RT) and Jenkins (LT).
    2nd kneel down Bulaga (LG), Bakhtiari (RG), Turner (LT), and Jenkins (RT)
    3rd. Kneel down Bulaga (LT), Bakhtiari (RT), Turner (LG) and Jenkins (RG).
    The offensive line was having some fun to end the game.

    1. Kato December 24, 2019

      Did not notice that

    2. Zwoeger December 24, 2019

      Thát I did not notice:-)

  8. Kato December 24, 2019

    I still stand by my statement about paying Jones. Look, I love the guy. He seems to be a class act and I expect that from having military parents. He seems to be a great locker room guy. The Packers don’t have a great cap situation moving forward because all the money they spent this off-season. Bulaga’s contract is up as well as Mason Crosby. I think they have to resign Crosby. Stability at kicker is of utmost importance. Blake Martinez is also a FA, they need to replace him or resign him. They have to resign Kenny Clark. Those kind of guys on the defensive line are hard to find, he has the second most pressures of interior defensive linemen behind Aaron Donald. It sucks, but sometimes you can’t resign everyone.

    1. Ferris December 24, 2019

      Jones can have Jimmy Graham’s money, $8M. Give Bulaga Lane Taylor’s Money…easy peasy.

  9. Kato December 24, 2019

    I am incredibly proud of this teams effort last night. So many players had great individual plays that don’t show up in the stat sheets. Kyler Fackrell drawing that huge holding penalty. Robert Tonyan with that great block on Hunter on a Jones run. Great block downfield that sprung Jones on his long TD run. Who would have thought. First round bye. Possible homefield. Za’Darius is making a late push for DPOY. The front seven is playing their best ball at the right time of the year. If Kenny Clark keeps it up, that just makes the defensive line that much better and frees up the Smiths to do what they do. For the first time this year, I am starting to think this team is special. They just simply win any way possible. While LaFleur’s playcalling makes me wonder at times, there is no doubt that he delivers a clear message and the players buy in. This team has a different buzz around it

  10. PF4L December 24, 2019

    Anyone see the post game handshake with LeFleur and Zimmer?
    Can Zimmer be any more of a D bag….what a dick.
    *
    In somewhat related news…i gave Anthony Barr the benefit of the doubt with the Rodgers ordeal. But the more i watch him…the more i’m convinced he’s a bigger dick than Zimmer is.
    *
    I think i know why the queens haven’t won a Super Bowl. God won’t allow it.

    1. Empacador December 24, 2019

      I made the same observation and commented to my brother after the game about what an asshat Zimmer was. Classless head coach. Speaking of which, who thinks McCarthy is gonna coach the Panthers?

    2. Dude Looks Like a ViQueen December 25, 2019

      The joy and fulfillment I get from seeing the Viking Fans express an elevated level of woe and lamentation on TV and Social Media over the loss to the Packers is Indescribable. It was a great holiday gift.