Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Packers 24, Carolina 14. No turnovers and 38:04 time of possession. The Packers offense got the ball early, often, and they kept it for big chunks of time. Not glamourous, but dominant. Carolina actually outgained the Packers in yardage (300 to 279) but they didn't overtake the Packers in yardage until their last drive.

First Quarter: The Packers were able to run right from the start of the game. The yardage per carry was not impressive, but the Packers controlled the line of scrimmage and usually gave the Packers running back an opening. QB Brett Favre looked off in the first quarter, but no interceptions. If any Packers fans haven't regressed the memory of Favre's stinker 3 interception performance in the first half versus Minnesota last season in week 1, then we can appreciate no interceptions. DT Grady Jackson was injured on the third play on defense, and he could be done for the season with a torn knee. Jackson's loss could be huge (rim shot) because the Packers are already without NT Donnell Washington (out for the year with a foot injury) and DT Kenny Peterson is recovering from a leg injury. This created a lot of playing time for NT James Lee and DT Cullen Jenkins. TE David Martin played a lot in the first half, but steadly was phased out as the game went along. P Bryan Barker was the primary punter for the Packers and he didn't look too good. The Packers offense controlled most of the quarter by running the football and keeping Carolina's offense on the bench. Packers 3, Carolina 0.

Second Quarter: The Packers defensive line was not too effective and the Packers could only generate pressure by blitzing. Carolina had their one good drive this quarter, which dominated most of the quarter. The Packers had some sloppy tackling, two big 15 yard face mask penalties (one on LB Nick Barnett brought Carolina's drive back to life), and the secondary looked confused when it tried to drop back in a zone coverage. The offense answered immediately back, Favre threw his big pass of the night (24 yard sideline pass to WR Javon Walker), and RB Ahman Green ran for his first TD. The Packers started blitzing on nearly every play on the previous drive, with mixed success because Carolina did score a TD, but after the Packers took the lead on the Green's first TD, the blitz really started to bother QB Jake Delhomme. This was also the time at which Carolina stopped running the ball. Carolina's offensive coordinator Dan Henning seemed to get the best of the Packers defensive coordinator Bob Slovik for the first quarter and a half, but Slovik outcoached Henning the rest of the game. Packers 10, Carolina 7.

Third Quarter: Fumble! DE Aaron Kampman fell on a fumbled handoff when Delhomme tried to handoff to FB Brad Hoover right in front of two other Packers who had blitzed. Lee had a great preseason, but he didn't make any plays in place of the injured Jackson (minus Lee had one of the 15 yard facemask penalties in the 2nd quarter). Favre warmed up in the 2nd quarter and found a groove in the 3rd quarter. He actually threw two TD passes on the same drive (one was called back after WR Robert Ferguson pushed off). Carolina had a good drive going, including a 34 yard pass to WR Ricky Proehl when FS Darren Sharper let Proehl get behind him on a zone coverage, but a tipped pass to WR Steve Smith bounced into Barnett's hands. This was the only interception, but CB Michael Hawthorne might have dropped two interceptions in the game. Hawthorne struggled in the preseason, he got beat once early in the 1st quarter, but became more effective as the game went on. Rookie CB Ahmad Carroll played a great game if it had ended in the middle of third quarter. Carroll had one penalty on a punt return in this quarter. Packers 24, Carolina 7.

Fourth quarter: A whole lot of Packer running. 13 run and 5 pass plays for the Packers on offense in the quarter. The big one was a 13 yard pass to Walker that ate up a couple of minutes late in the game. Carroll had another penalty on special teams and then got mixed up on coverage and gave up a 30 yard TD pass to a wide open WR Muhsin Muhammad. Carroll played like a talented rookie; made some plays but made some mistakes. Whipping boy CB Bhawoh Jue played a lot in the dime and had two great pass defenses in the 4th quarter, hopefully a sign of good things to come. SS Mark Roman was hurt early in the game but wasn't out long and played a solid overall game. All the Packers' starting linebackers were very active in the game. C Mike Flanagan sat out part of the 4th quarter, his last play might have been a sack on Favre when DT Kris Jenkins bull rushed Flanagan back into Favre. Hopefully Flanagan isn't hurt and was just tired from playing a lot tonight after missing most of the preseason with a leg injury. Carolina ends the game with an ineffective two minute drill (less than two minutes to go, down by 10, no timeouts, and their first play was a handoff). Packers 24, Carolina 14.

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