Sunday, October 14, 2012

Recap: Packers Upset The Texans in Houston, 42-24

I didn't see that win coming. The Green Bay Packers win over the Texans was a return to form for the 2010 championship team. QB Aaron Rodgers had his most accurate game of the season and his receivers were making some difficult catches (though there were still a few dropped passes). The big trouble spot I've been harping on all season is the offensive line, and they arguably had their best performance of the season. DE J.J. Watt added to his spectacular season with 2 sacks and 3 QB pressures, but his teammates provided little support. When other Texan defenders, such as LB Brooks Reed or LB Connor Barwin, did apply some pressure, Rodgers showed off his ability to escape or throw under pressure (such as the long TD pass to TE Tom Crabtree).

The defense did an amazing job of shutting down the Texans running game (ranked No. 7 by Football Outsiders coming into the game) and the only impact made by RB Arian Foster was on two short-yardage touchdown runs. But the bigger story was shutdown performance on QB Matt Schaub, who was ranked as the No. 5 QB (ahead of Rodgers) by Football Outsiders. Sure he would have been helped if the running game had been better, but that's not the entire story of why the Packers him shut down (and intercepted him twice). With the exception of a blown coverage on TE Owen Daniels for a 27 yard gain, the defensive backs played well and the Packers put good pressure on Schaub. While LB Clay Matthews failed to record a sack (and Watt moved ahead of him to lead the league in that category), he was still a menace, recording 3 QB hits and single-handedly disrupting the Texans' offense in the first quarter.

This game reminded me a lot of the Packers playoff win against the Falcons in early 2011. The Packers were on the road, underdogs, against the highest seeded team in the conference, and they whipped them on both sides of the ball.

A blemish on an impressive win was the high cost of injuries. Defensive starters LB Nick Perry, LB D.J. Smith and CB Sam Shields were all hurt, along with special teamer RB Brandon Saine, and they made early trips to the locker room. All of the injuries looked serious, but we'll have to wait a of couple days to find out. The good news is that the Packers do have depth to overcome it (more playing time for rookie LB Dezman Moses; CB Davon House and LB Terrell Manning might both get a chance after being left inactive against the Texans) but it's not something we want to see.

But I would like to see the Packers put together a couple strong games in a row before saying they've turned a corner. This win against a previously unbeaten team was a huge step forward, however, next week looks like a trap game in St. Louis against the 3-3 Rams (who are 3-0 at home). The Packers have to come right back and win another tough road game, otherwise their win against the Texans is just another peak in what's turned out to be an up-and-down season.

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