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Crosby’s Big Kick Helps Packers Ice 11th Win

If you saw the first three Packer touchdowns, the last two shoehorned between the dramatic defensive goal line takeaway initiated by rookie Krys Barnes, you probably thought the game was over right then and there. How many teams can come back from that type of dramatic fail down three scores at halftime? Against the NFL’s most prolific offense? With the Packers receiving the second half kickoff? If you turned the game off after that third score you saved yourself some stressful moments, but in the end missed a repeat performance any Packer fan wants to see; a fantastic 51 yard Mason Crosby field goal late in the 4th quarter which put the game out of reach.

The Packers were at their offensive best early. Rodgers directed long drives, turning them into a passing TD and a Rodgers scramble running TD. Aaron Jones had a good statistical day, and breezed in with a mocking high step for the Packers third TD in the first half. The defense seemed to rise to the occasion with a quick forced punt on the Panthers first possession and a goal line stand for the ages. Rookie Krys Barnes, the undrafted rookie free agent, made the play of the game when he knocked the ball out of QB Teddy Bridgewater’s hands as he tried to lift the ball above his head and over the goal line. That play created a 14 point swing and cost the Panthers the victory. After Green Bay’s third score the game seemed reminiscent of a number of last year’s games where the offense had a good game plan, scored early, but could not adjust after halftime and stalled out, creating uncomfortably close games for fans.

Dec 19, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Jones ended the game with 145 yards on 20 carries, but in the second half the Panther defense made him work for every inch. After Jamaal Williams left the game with an injury, Jones went the rest of the way, except for one 18 yard run by A.J. Dillon. Where was Dillon the rest of the game? Packer fans want an answer.

The offense scored 24 points Saturday night on a 32 degree December evening described as “Balmy” by Larry McCarren. The defense held the Panthers to 16 points. On paper this reads like a solid win, but the game was closer than the score indicates and Carolina seemed to have the momentum for the entire second half. The defense gave up just over 360 yards but much of that was due to repeated opportunities for Carolina thanks to the Packer’s offensive failure to get second half first downs. In total, the Packers had 5 drives of four plays or less. The only Packer points in the second half came on the aforementioned 51 yard Crosby field goal. After multiple games of clean pockets and passes coming out quickly, Rodgers and company could not solve the puzzle of the Panthers defense. Lucas Patrick was beaten multiple times. His toe injury is obviously affecting his performance and the Packers need to design a game plan giving him help in passing downs. Bakhtiari, the iron man of our offensive line, seemed to also struggle. The final tally, 5 sacks, matching their season high against Tampa Bay.

On the other side of the field, the Panthers had a good plan for the second half: Run on the Packers Nickel defense and use the run to set up the pass. In the air, attack Kevin King repeatedly. King and Kirksey seemed to be behind and a step slow on repeated completions, especially between the hash marks.

Carolina Panthers At Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers runs against the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field.
Carolina Panthers At Green Bay Packers

On offense, Aaron Rodgers seemed stubbornly set on repeatedly throwing quick hitch passes to Davante Adams although they failed repeatedly. While crossers seemed to be open, Rodgers repeatedly settled for check down throws that would require a missed tackle by the Panthers to gain yards. But the Panthers’ tackles were consistently sound, repeatedly foiling Packer drives. While Rodgers was visibly upset in the second half and seemed to be blaming his receivers, he also missed a few opportunities. Valdes-Scantling had a half a step on one of his only targets but more importantly, had the outside position and three yards between him and the boundary. If Rodgers had placed the ball over his right shoulder, 5’11” defender Myles Hartsfield would have had no chance. Instead, Rodgers threw the ball to the inside and the ball came close to being picked. On another play Rodgers did not see Aaron Jones leak into the end zone wide open. Rodgers was focused on Davante Adams who was covered, forcing a throw away incompletion. On another incompletion Rodgers failed to connect with a wide open Adams who was over 15 yards downfield.

Give credit where it is due. Packer fans have to applaud the efforts of Adrian Amos Saturday night. Though he did not have an interception, he may have played his best overall game as a Packer. Amos made play after play forcing incompletions or making a sure tackle to help thwart a Panther drive. Crosby’s long distance heroics in back to back games led the special teams which had sound coverage on dangerous return men. The result: the Packers keep their lead in the NFC and the offense and defense can watch the film and improve from this performance which was played against a good defense. Next up, The Titans.

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Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards is a lawyer, victim advocate, writer, and long term Packer fan and Packer history enthusiast.

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18 Comments

  1. Zwoeger December 20, 2020

    Thought I had a bad dream and was looking at a Mike McCarthy game with Rodgers holding the ball like he used to under that f… at the end of his tenure.

  2. Stickman December 20, 2020

    Maybe there not showing there playbook on offense. I’m really starting to like #51 and #54 and I can’t wait to see #28 bust loose in the playoff’s.

    1. PF4L December 20, 2020

      Yea….one thing that turned me off, was that Barnes was not given credit for that forced fumble.
      Kurt Warner and Joe Davis called the game last night, neither mentioned who caused the fumble. I mean…if your calling the game, how do you just ignore it?
      That was a huge FF considering the Panthers were first and goal inside the one
      .
      I guess in all fairness, i didn’t expect much from those two calling the game. They were about as entertaining as watching the impotent Packer passing offense dink and dunk there way into ineptness against a 18th rated defense.
      .
      Then on Fox6’s news cast and Post game reporting…no one mentioned Barnes by name either.
      .
      I still feel sick over that passing offense performance. That was in a word….pathetic.
      Rodgers had a supreme opportunity to control the MVP narrative and make a statement.
      If he doesn’t win it now, i’ll hardly be shocked.
      Now the question is, will Mahomes make a statement today?
      .
      If the Packers were trying to send a message to NFC teams going into the playoffs, that they better take the Packers seriously…..
      It didn’t work.

  3. Cheese December 20, 2020

    If Bridgewater doesn’t fumble the ball at the 1 yard line this game very well could have had a different outcome. Aside from a loss, this is the closest thing a team can get to a wake up call. Hopefully it is effective. This wake up call seems to have come at a good time as well. Right before the Titans game and close enough to the playoffs. The Packers can’t get complacent just because they have the #1 ranking in multiple stat columns.
    .
    I remember hearing last year that some of GB’s players were certain that they were going to the Super Bowl, as if they had forgotten that they had to still play the 49ers who had completely embarrassed the Packers several weeks before. Yes, the 49ers are not the same team they were last year and anything can happen in the playoffs. I’m just ready for something different to happen this time around. Something different than the past 9 years.
    .
    Zwoeger, coasting to a victory with only a field goal in the second half made me think of McCarthy as well. Stickman, I agree about 51 and 54. That 18 yard run by Dillon was real nice to see too.

  4. Mick December 20, 2020

    For most of this season, I’ve been hammering on Pettines’ defense and special teams units, which in most peoples opinion; is warranted. Not this week however! From halfway thru the 2nd quarter, till the end of the game; I’ve never seen such inept play on the offense since the 2nd half of the TB game. Rodgers had the look of disgust on his face the whole 2nd half, yelling at receivers, and looking at the sidelines shaking his head. He acted as if the whole problem with the offense was because of poor blocking, and receivers not getting open. Yes, those were some of the problems but, where is the in-game adjustments? Another question, why did they abandon the run game so early? And yet another question; why does LaFleur continue to let Rodgers stare down Adams, especially when he is double covered? In recent weeks, #12 was spreading the ball around pretty good. When this offense struggles for whatever reason: #12 reverts back to pass, and pass some more, LaFleur comes out every week with a good offensive strategy to start the game but when it bogs down, he struggles to adjust to what defenses are doing! On several occasions, there were receivers open in the flat, and on short crossing routes over the middle. Rodgers didn’t look over there because he is too dependent on Adams. I know it’s a trust thing with Adams, but; when the defense takes that away, continuing to force it to work; is insane! So, that’s why neither Rodgers nor Adams had a good game. Hence, that’s why the offense struggled. LaFleur needs to fix this!

    1. PF4L December 20, 2020

      Yea..dink and dunk…..i’m not sure throwing it wide east or wide west for a loss, or zero to 1 yard gain helps you. Where was the open read quick throw that we got used to seeing? The 18th ranked Panther defense had an answer….the Packers didn’t. That’s on Hackett, LeFleur, and Rodgers.
      .
      Not exactly sure how the Packers are going to handle tougher defenses, or more potent offenses in the playoffs….playing like that.
      .
      Defensive Grade: C
      It’s no Christian McCaffrey and ….
      It’s Teddy Bridgewater…For the season Teddy’s stats…..
      14 TD’s…8 Int. He’s NEVER thrown for more than 14 TD’s…..in his career.
      He might break his season high!!
      Fumbles on 1st and goal inside the one.
      Again……it’s Teddy Bridgewater.
      .
      Offensive Grade : D+
      F if not for the run game
      +…because they still won.
      That performance was as bad as the Bucs game, but at least the Bucs are a much better team.
      .
      Btw…do we have a #2 receiver yet?….give me a name….take your best shot.
      I seem to be in a good mood for that :)
      .
      Just for the record……..The Panthers only lost by a one score game again last night.
      Add another to the list.
      That’s 7 games lost, by only one score. How impressive is that people!?
      That must mean……….they are really good right?
      .
      Maybe, idk…..at the end of the season, the NFL hands out a trophy for best point differential with teams who end up losing twelve games.
      Because…..that’s the only way one score games would….matter.
      .
      YAWN….that was exhausting

    2. Howard December 20, 2020

      When I saw Rodgers shaking his head I took that as he was responding to something LaFleur was saying in his helmet. Could be Rodgers didn’t like the play call, or as simple as LaFleur asking a quick question about personnel, etc.and Rodgers answering.
      .
      Some of those quick outside passes were run calls with an option to throw the quick/short outside pass. The quick outside pass that Rodgers pulled down and then ran for a first down was a run call. The offensive lineman were run blocking, and it looked like the receiver Rodgers was going to throw to was intent on getting to his blocking assignment.
      .
      I don’t know if anyone caught the Rodgers post game conference, but Rodgers called the Panthers defense a college scheme. Maybe more NFL defenses will start running college defensive schemes to attack some of the NFL offenses running college schemes. To me those quick behind or close to the line outside passes is right from college campuses.

      1. PF4L December 20, 2020

        Yea….Rodgers seemed pissed off all game.
        .
        I just….don’t care if it’s out of an RPO or whatever, those short wide passes seem like little no, to negative gain 90% of the time. Or what i define as a wasted play.
        .
        I’m upset more with the 3 brain trust, that includes Rodgers. Three offensive minds and that’s the best you can produce?
        .
        Lets be real….the Panthers are maybe average on a reach, they sure aren’t above average on defense or offense. Citing that….is why i find that performance appalling, sans the run game.
        .
        Cheese had it correct, any normal team at 1st and goal inside the 1 are scoring 6. The percentile of TD’s under that scenario must be in the high 90’s.
        .
        At home, no travel, it shouldn’t be that hard.
        .
        It’s not the end of the world, but the Packer pass offense shit the bed twice now this season.
        That is usually the Packers greatest attribute.
        So to see it in week 15 against a 4-10 team.
        It may not be the end of the world, but it ain’t good either

        1. stiggy December 21, 2020

          Packers offense shit the bed…after the first quarter. Me personally? im ok with it…they will work out the kinks as they have done very well this year. Would have been nice to see Dillon get a few more carries when Wiliiams got injured.

          But frankly…havent we all been asking for the packers to win a game where the offense doesnt carry them? They put up some decent points but frankly…the defense had to take the field after 6 consecutive failed offensive drives. They were getting stops and yes I know mcaffery was out but i would say this is the first game the defense and (gasp) special teams are what helped them pull through.

  5. Mick December 20, 2020

    I’ve mentioned a couple of times about halfway thru the season that Barnes and Martin should be playing a lot more. I know both have missed some time a/c injuries and such, but clearly they are better and faster athletes. They also seem to be more instinctive. They’re young and not experienced, but I’m willing to accept a blunder here and there in exchange for gaining that experience and making the D more athletic. So, I’m on board with Cheese and Stickman.

    1. Howard December 20, 2020

      I think both you and I mentioned Barnes and Martin after the Houston game. Those two are were the Packers are headed at ILB. One thing about both. Barnes is more instinctive and understands his assignments. The negative so far for Barnes is how many games he has not finished or played due to injury. A lot of splash plays by Barnes this year when he is on the field. Martin right now is like a bull in a China shop. Martin wants to punish the ball, and anyone carrying it, or about to touch it. Martin does make some splash plays when he guesses right, but Matin needs some time to read plays right more often. Martin is also out of position a lot in run fits and coverage. Both of those players as long as they stay healthy are going to improve. They are both aggressive and don’t shy away from contact. Speaking of ILBs is that really the call late in the game to have Kirksey carrying a WR deep down the middle of the field with no safety help over the top. Someone blew coverage on that play, and if not, that call needs to be jettisoned from the defensive play calls.
      .
      The other player I think we are starting to see is Vernon Scott as a dime linebacker. I hope Raven comes back healthy. If not I think Scott is going to see more time in obvious passing downs as the dime ILB.

    2. Stiggy December 21, 2020

      I agree on Barnes. I love martin’s aggression but he gets fooled easy and finds himself out of position quite often. I wish he hadnt been hurt for the first half of the season cause frankly I dont want him “learning” in the playoffs. But I guess when Kirksey is your other option…you gotta pick low ceiling high floor vs high ceiling lower floor.

  6. Dean December 20, 2020

    The pack probably should have ran the ball more even though they got about 200 yards running. Too bad Williams got hurt. However, at some point they need to let Dillon see what he can do. Maybe they thought as long as we are ahead the safe thing to do is let Rogers pass the ball and not trust a rookie RB who has missed a few of games. I guess we are so used to Rogers just having his way. Good lesson to learn now. I do not care if we get 50 yards passing if we get 300 yards running the ball. This 2020 team has the personnel to go to the run if the other team keeps its safeties back.

  7. Cheese December 21, 2020

    So being that Green Bay is one game ahead of New Orleans and has the tie breaker, does that mean it’s possible the Packers can still get the #1 seed even if they only win one of their remaining games?
    .
    After researching a bit, if Seattle wins out and Green Bay only wins one game as long as they beat the Bears the Packers will have the tie breaker because their win percentage in the NFC would be higher than Seattle’s, because SEA has lost to three NFC teams so far and GB has only lost to two NFC teams.
    .
    Am I correct in this thinking? If so, as long as they beat the Bears the Packers have the #1 seed. Which is good because Tennessee just dropped 46 points on the Lions and they look like a solid team. A much bigger test than any team the Packers have seen recently.

    1. Howard December 21, 2020

      Cheese, you are correct as usual. One other game to consider is the Rams and Seahawks play this weekend. The Rams will not be in a good mood. I think the Rams win that game in a hard fought contest. I will definitely tune in to that game.

      1. PF4L December 21, 2020

        You might be right, there are certainly indicators pointing in that direction.
        .
        But gun to my head, i’m taking the Seahawks at home with their recently improving defense.

  8. Mick December 21, 2020

    Good analysis regarding the 2 young ILBs’ Howard! Ya, I remember us making comments about Barnes and Martin earlier in the season, just couldn’t remember after which game it was. We are starting to see less playing time for Kirksey, and Burks has been a non-contributor since he came to town. Jackson is a puzzle that can’t seem to be solved. We have a few of these guys that have been on the team for 3 years or so, that just aren’t progressing. You would like to see some of these non starting players make a contribution somewhere, even if it’s STs, besides depth. Dropping P. Smith into any kind of pass defense is, well; let’s just say—— head scratching! You need athletes with speed, instincts, and tacklers to cover the middle of the field. Let’s hope #51 and #54 continue to improve and stay healthy.

  9. Mick December 21, 2020

    Awhile back, i think it was PF4L made a quote; “on any given sunday,,,,,,”. Well, yesterday the 0-13 Jets went to went to L.A. and beat the playoff bound Rams. On another note, here’s proof I see troubled waters ahead for the offense. Post game comments by Rodgers and LaFleur raise questions to consider. #12 commented, “tonite was definitely a stinker for the offense” (TRUE); LaFleur stated, “it wasn’t the best performance, specifically on the offensive side of the ball”, (TRUE) and #12 stating; “but, we gotta keep finding ways to get #17 the ball”— (FALSE)! If my memory is correct, the offense is more diverse when Adams was injured and not in the lineup. Don’t get me wrong, Adams is dynamic, but, continuing to target him when being double covered, is asking for the same outcome that happened against the Panthers; not to mention the Bucs. I think a more accurate quote would be—- we need more creative ways to get #17 the ball. LaFleur and Hackett need to pull in the reins on Rodgers, not depend on #17 so much, and spread the ball around. The last 2 years are proof they can win when #17 is not playing.