In a game that included historic records for Aaron Rodgers, the Packers still needed late game heroics from the defense and RB Aaron Jones to seal a victory. If you turned this game on in the last 15 minutes, you would not believe that this Packer team looked unstoppable in the second quarter. Sunday’s game uniquely displayed a different side of this Packer team in each quarter.
In the first quarter the Packers defense looked vulnerable to the run. The Eagles seemed to focus their running attack at and around Preston Smith. While faltering nearing the Red Zone, the Eagles controlled the ball for most of the quarter and led the game as the second quarter started, 3-0. The Packer’s first play on offense saw Aaron Jones recovering his own fumble on a pitch play that lost six yards. Their second play resulted in a sack by Javon Hargrave who softly planted Rodgers in the backfield for a loss of seven more. Packer fans had an uncomfortable feeling, remembering last year’s Eagle triumph.
The second quarter showed the potential this Green Bay team has when they execute. Aaron Rodgers finished the first half with the best completion percentage, for a half, of his career. That is an MVP statement from an MVP candidate. Drives of 88 yards and 82 yards both led to touchdowns. Davante Adams played inspired football the entire game. Only a missed opportunity on a very difficult potential touchdown pass thrown over his head and opposite shoulder in the third quarter could keep his day from being perfect. That uncomfortable Packer fan feeling disappeared by halftime but came back with a vengeance in the 4th quarter.
Adam’s spectacular catches did not inspire his wide receiver group in the second half. If Rodgers loses the MVP race, we may look back to the second half of this game as one of the reasons. The Packers receivers left close to 100 yards off the stat sheet with drops. The drops seemed to be contagious. Marquez Valdez-Scantling’s was the worst, 55 yards wiped off the books. Tonyan then forgot to turn around on the next play and the pass sailed right by him. The Packers punted. While the Packers scored six points in the third on a devastating 99 yard touchdown drive, drops were becoming contagious in the third and fourth quarters. Before the game was done Lazard and St. Brown joined the drop party. Then Crosby missed what seemed at the time a meaningless extra point. Right?
Even when the defense gave up a touchdown after Jalen Hurts replaced the ineffective Carson Wentz the Packers still seemed to be in control. But three bad offensive plays, including a delay of game penalty, was followed by another touchdown gift by the Punt Team. Suddenly, this game was a stressful event.
In the middle of this Packer gift-fest was JK Scott’s attempted tackle. A mirror image of his attempt against the Jaguars three weeks ago. So the question needs to be asked; can anyone teach Scott how to at least try to tackle someone? Push them, reach out and try to grab them, or just get in their way. For the second time this year Packer fans watched their punter act out a scene from, “Dances with Wolves” and do not want to watch that scene again.
Now the good news; the O-line, a patchwork group that included Bakhtiari at his usual left tackle, Wagner at right tackle, Turner at right guard, Patrick at left guard and Jenkins at center, opened a slice of a hole for Aaron Jones who slashed, dashed and whiplashed his way to a 77 yard touchdown. Darnell Savage put the icing on the cake with an athletic, leaping, interception of Hurts (the jokes pile up when your QB has a name like that and throws a game ending pick) and the Packers leave Lambeau with a record of 9-3. And, Aaron Rodgers has thrown 400 touchdown passes in the fewest games of any QB in the history of the NFL. A record to savor this week. This team will need to play four solid quarters of football to beat a team in the playoffs but Packer fans should be happy with how the team responded to the adversity. Great teams rise up, and the Packers did that Sunday against the Eagles. Next up, a Detroit team coming off a big win against Chicago.