The Packers outplayed the Rams in nearly every facet of this game, and if they had not I would have been surprised. This was a game the Packers were expected to win, as opposed to last Sunday’s win over the Texans, which qualified as a pleasantly-surprising outcome for most.
With a record of 4-3, the Packers should now be able to begin distancing themselves from the rest of the NFC North. With 5 of their 9 remaining games against division opponents, the Packers own their own destiny. If they continue to play the way they have played against Houston and St. Louis, they’ll be in good shape.
Some thumps and chest bumps from the Rams game:
Thump – DL Mike Neal went down with a knee injury. The Packers’ philosophy of next man up will be more and more challenged if this trend continues. The seriousness of the injury won’t really be known for a couple of days. Let’s hope for low time to no time lost for Neal.
Chest Bump – WRs Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and James Jones all made big contributions. Cobb is a game-changer - now second in the league in yards from scrimmage and a threat to go 6 anytime he touches the ball. Nelson is steady, reliable, and makes some of the toughest catches imaginable look routine. Jones has come into his own as a big play receiver, and he’s not dropping balls this year. There were even a couple of Jermichael Finley sightings today.
Thump – The offensive line continued to struggle against better defensive lines. This is a trend that nobody wants to see continued. Rodgers is not, contrary to what some might believe, superhuman. He’s got to have better protection when he’s in the pocket. Rodgers can help himself by not holding the ball as long as he did a couple of times today, but it would be better for everybody if the O-line elevated their pass-pro game while Rodgers figures out a little faster to whom he’s going to deal the rock.
Chest Bump - The Packers defense is getting back in their turnover mode. CB Casey Hayward shares the league lead in interceptions. Sound good? It sure does to the Packers and their fans. The Packers defense is coming into a couple of games against teams with less-than-stellar offenses. They should be able to continue to look good while working the remaining bugs out so that by the time they go up against a top offense again they’ll be ready to rock.
Thump – Penalties again seemed to allow the opponent to stick around. The one that really sticks out from this game is the one against LB Dezman Moses when he was flagged for unnecessary roughness for his hit on Steven Jackson in the third quarter. The league hates to see players “launch themselves” at anybody, especially when the hit looks like this one did. In my opinion, had Moses launched a little bit but hit Jackson with his pads instead of his helmet/head, this might not have been called. Either way this is a preventable mistake, and allowing the opponent to stick around is not what you want.
Chest Bump – Once again Head Coach Mike McCarthy kept opponents guessing on special teams. Even though the Packers only got three points out of it, the onside kick after the first touchdown was a gutsy call and even though I cringed when I saw it, I still loved it. Sooner or later one of these gambles might come up snake eyes, but so far the attitude and the execution on these plays have been great. When was the last time, in one season, this team successfully executed as many fakes and onsides kicks? I don’t know for certain but it feels like a first to me. Cringing is an automatic reflex anyway – if you’re not cringing when an onside kick goes off you’re not paying attention.
Chest Bump – The Packers fans showed up strong and took over another road venue. St. Louis is a more-or-less manageable drive from Green Bay, but let’s not discount the local populace either. There are Packers fans everywhere -even in St. Louis. That said, the Edward Jones Dome looked like Lambeau with a hat on. A truly revolting thought that is, but there were Packers jerseys everywhere and there has been plenty of discussion post-game about how the Packers fans were louder than the Rams fans that were actually in attendance.
So at 4-3* (it’s getting tougher and tougher to swallow that Seattle call now, isn’t it?) the Packers go home to face the hard-luck Jacksonville Jaguars. This will be another game the Packers will be expected to win. And another opportunity for the Packers to put a W on the board. That’s stacking success.
More on the Jacksonville game later this week on Lombardiave.com.
Go Pack GO!