Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Packers Hang On and Beat The Falcons: 43-37

The Packers took a 31-7 halftime lead and the game looked over. Unfortunately no one told WR Julio Jones to go and start the bus. Here are some pictures from the first half when everything was awesome.
So I know the Falcons defense stinks, but the Packers offense still took care of business against them. Even in the second half, when all the wheels were coming off, the Packers scored on three of their five possessions, they only punted once (and comically couldn't figure out how to line up properly because it was only like their 10th punt in the last 6 games), and they would have scored on their final possession except they ran out the clock instead. Eddie Lacy (who's hip injury doesn't seem serious) and James Starks torched the Falcons on the ground while Aaron Rodgers was almost perfect in the air. WR Randall Cobb didn't blow up the stat line, he only had a third of Jordy Nelson's 146 yards receiving, but he made some big 3rd down receptions in traffic. The offensive line was outstanding, again. The only blemish was some poor communication with rookie WR Davante Adams, who remains inconsistent as he adjusts to life in the NFL, and I would appreciate it if Rodgers slid more instead of taking some hits.

Should you worry about the defense? No more than you should have last week. This was the first game in which the defense got torched since their loss to the Saints (something about the NFC South). The defense has been inconsistent all season long, and the bad side of it showed up again on Monday night. The good news is that they only had two problems.

For the second week in a row, the defense struggled in the red zone but they did force the Falcons into going for it twice on 4th down near the goal line (they unfortunately scored touchdowns on both opportunities). As bad as it's looked, two weeks of red zone opportunities is a small sample size. This problem will probably go away on it's own.

The second problem was WR Julio Jones. He was a monster and the Packers had no answer for him until DE Datone Jones knocked him out of the game with a hip injury. It wasn't until they dusted off 4th CB Davon House that anyone stopped him.

Otherwise, the defense did what they had to do. The Falcons couldn't run the ball. Their next leading receiver after Jones was WR Roddy White who only had 42 yards receiving. A super star receiver went off on them (just as he did the week before against Pro Bowl CB Patrick Peterson). I'm sure they'll watch the film and make some corrections but getting toasted by a super star receiver in one game isn't going to de-rail their season.

And the defense is going to look like a bunch of rock stars over the next two weeks as they face up against two of the worst offenses in the NFL (the Bills and then the Bucs) on the road.

Maybe the Packers lost some of their Super Bowl inevitability mojo with this game. But the Packers and Seahawks are still the best two teams in the NFC. As long as the Packers keep winning and force Seattle to travel to Lambeau for a playoff game, they'll be in good shape. Even if they'd hung on for the blowout win, they wouldn't have gotten any style points. A win only counts as one win. The important thing to do is to keep on winning.

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