Writing about the Packers is not always fun. In this case reviewing the Jags game follows actually watching the Jags game, and in all honesty I can say this was the hardest game of the season to watch.
The Packers emerged from their game with Jacksonville on Sunday on the victorious side of the 24-15 score. They were outpassed, outrun, but not outlasted. Expectations were much higher in this game though – especially for the offense.
The game began with a three and out by the Jaguars after the Packers won the toss and deferred. I thought for certain that the Pack O would get rolling early, but lo and behold they went three and out, too.
On the Jags second possession they completed a long pass on third down to get within field goal range and they took an early lead 3-0. A collective groan was heard emanating from the Packers faithful. Were the Packers going to play down to the level of their competition again? It sure looked that way.
On the ensuing possession, the Packers O looked better, driving the ball down for a short TD pass to Randall Cobb. Score 7-3 Packers, but the lingering doubts remained.
The Jaguars moved the ball efficiently on their next possession until Morgan Burnett recovered a Jennings fumble in Packers territory.
The Packers could not capitalize on the turnover.
After the punt, the Pack D applied some pressure and held Jacksonville deep in their territory. When the Jags went to punt defended by only 10 Packers players, Davon House went unblocked anyway and took advantage of the situation by blocking Anger’s punt. Dezman Moses recovered in the end zone for a Pack TD. Score 14-3 Packers.
On the Jags next possession a questionable PF call on Davon House for what looked like a clean hit and another on Mike Neal for defensive holding (on a lineman?) kept Jacksonville moving but for the rest of the first half neither team was able to sustain anything meaningful until the Jags forced a Rodgers fumble deep in Pack territory.
Jacksonville punched it in but failed to convert the two making the halftime score 14-12 Packers. Not what anyone had envisioned for the halftime score in this one.
The third quarter was exceptionally difficult to watch. Rodgers got pounded some more. Packers receivers dropped more passes. Jacksonville managed to remain close enough to threaten. The Packers moved the ball but stalled once when a fourth down pass by Masthay fell short and a second time when Crosby right-doinked a FG from 32 yards out. It was still 14-12 Packers after 3, and it seemed we were looking a game that could go either way.
The final quarter started with the Packers finally moving the ball. Jones hauled a 31 yard pass in to get close, and Driver got his end zone dance on after he snagged a Rodgers TD pass. Score 21-12 Packers early in the fourth.
Except for trading field goals to make the final score 24-15, the fourth quarter was entirely forgettable. It seemed every time the Packers O or D did something positive, they managed to erase the positive with a negative.
The game wasn’t all bad though.
Here are some chest bumps and thumps:
Chest Bump - Coach McCarthy tossed the red hanky twice, successfully challenging two plays that the officials really should have gotten right on their own. Both the second quarter pass to Shorts and the fourth quarter pass to Blackmon were reversed as they should have been.
Thump – I’m tired of harping on this point, but the officials made questionable and straight-up bad calls that definitely affected the outcome of the game. Some examples include the PF call on House, which appeared to be a clean play, and the defensive holding on Neal – which I don’t think ever really happened. While watching the game the vibe seemed to be that the refs were going to steal another one from the Packers.
Thump – The offensive line didn’t exactly keep Rodgers clean in this one. He took a couple of pretty good shots. O line play has got to be more consistent than what the Packers are getting from theirs. Did it start with the lack of a respectable run game? Perhaps.
Chest Bump – Special teams block of a punt for a TD! Even when playing with only 10 guys they still got it done. The Packers hadn’t done that since before I was married. And I’ve been married a long time!
Thump – Special teams whiff on fourth down at the Jaguars 37. Perhaps we’ve been once too many times to the well this season? McCarthy put it succinctly enough in his Monday presser, essentially saying they won’t do that again. Good.
Chest Bump – Morgan Burnett and Brad Jones came up big – each with a sack and forced fumble. Casey Hayward played well for the most part. Yes, the Jaguars at times seemed to be able to move the ball at will on the Pack D. But in the end the D played well enough to win. Against Jacksonville anyway.
Thump – The drops. They were trending downward but after this one they’ve spiked again. Catch the ball and you don’t stick out. Drop it and you look like you don’t belong in the uniform.
Thump – The injuries. DLs Neal had an ankle and Worthy a concussion. If this keeps up we might have to put in calls to Ezra Johnson and Mike Roller. Does Jurko still do radio down in Chicago?
Chest Bump – I loved watching the Packers run the ball on third and short. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but when Green carried on third and 1 twice in the fourth quarter for first downs it sure looked awesome to me. Of course in the third quarter he didn’t make it, and Rodgers trying to sneak for it just scares me on many levels.
With regard to predictions made about this one I’m in good company being mostly wrong about nearly every aspect of how the game actually transpired. I have no wish to revisit my “Weather Forecast” from the before-the- game piece except to say I didn’t exactly give Al Roker a run for his money, but I’m happy to be right about the big play (blocked punt and TD) on special teams. In this game it was huge!
The Packers are now 5-3. They don’t owe anybody any apologies for winning this game. But had they lost, we’d all be wondering and pointing fingers and the collective angst about the team would be at least as pervasive as it was prior to the Houston game. So glad not to have to go there!
Bring on the Cardinals! Go Pack GO!