Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Packers 16, Houston 13. The Packers had a lot of first half opportunities, but the offense stalled in Houston territory. In the second half, Houston had plenty of opportunities to put the game away, but their offense couldn't put anything together and gave the Packers one too many opportunities. A five game winning streak is good news, but the Packers are still one of the premier pretenders in the NFL this season. If it weren't for awful awful St. Louis somehow managing a 5-5 record (thanks Seattle!) the Packers would be the number one over achiever in the NFL this season. The Packers defense has to start creating more turnovers for any long term success.

First Half: RB Walter Williams; who knew he was on the roster? The bad news of course is RB Ahman Green's rib injury and he might have to miss a week (similar to the week Philadelphia RB Brian Westbrook missed earlier this season with his rib injury). Williams actually ran the ball pretty well in the first half, due to the fact that the Packers offensive line has been kicking ass the last three weeks. If it weren't for two killer holding penalties on LG Mike Wahle during the game, the offensive line (no sacks for the game and 4.3 yards/carry with Williams carrying the load) would have been the unit of the game. Bob Trumpe (he's still around doing the radio commentary) was critical of the Packers run defense, but the yards per carry stats were very skewed by the long scrambles by QB David Carr. The Packers continued the league trend of stopping RB Dominick Davis for a short yards per carry average during this game. LB Hannibal Navies was victimized again this game on the TD pass by Carr to Davis. The play wasn't Navies fault, he was stuck in no man's land (cover Carr or cover Davis), but Navies has been abused in the passing game the past few weeks. CB Al Harris had his second great game in a row. It doesn't show up on the stat sheet, but he neutralized WR Andre Johnson. Johnson had over 100 yards for the game, but Johnson was clearly the most dangerous wide receiver the Packers have seen this season. He should be a constant Pro Bowl invitee with his size and speed, and was clearly the most dangerous player on the field. Additional kudos to rookie CB Ahmad Carroll, because only three Houston players caught passes during the game and his primary assignments of WR Javar Gaffney and WR Corey Bradford caught a combined zero passes in this game. Houston's defense had a great first half; they stopped the Packers offense three times in Houston territory and it only resulted in 3 Packer points and shut down QB Brett Favre on the last drive of the first half, which led to an end of half field goal. Packers 3, Houston 13.

Second Half: The Packers defense takes over. Houston only drove into Packer territory twice in the second half, and both times they were sacked back into Houston territory. Davis couldn't run the ball, Carr didn't scramble for big yards, and receivers were rarely open. If the Packers had forced a turnover or two, it would have been a perfect 10 defensive half. The secondary looks better every week with Carroll in at starting cornerback, and this was rookie CB Joey Thomas's best game (not great, but his best game so far). NT Grady Jackson had another solid game, and DT Cullen Jenkins has worked himself into as many snaps as DT Cletidus Hunt (the Packers primary six man defensive line rotation is DEs R-Kal Truluck, KGB, and Aaron Kampman and DT Jackson, Jenkins, and Hunt). Unfortunately, neither Truluck or Kampman have made many plays, but overall the group is playing as well as they have all season. There have been few plays as sweet in the NFL this season as the TD pass where WR Donald Driver quickly grabs the ball out of the air for the TD pass. RB Tony Fisher can often be confused with Green (similar number and their styles of running are very similar) but the Packers rarely used Fisher in the second half (probably due to his neck stinger). Ho-hum. Another game winning Favre drive, to set up the field goal by K Ryan Longwell. For the second week in a row, Favre made it look easy. Packers 16, Houston 13.

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