Well, another ho-hum win for the Packers on Sunday night. Aaron Rodgers threw no touchdown passes at home for the first time since he became the starter. No actual sacks by the defense (a run OB for a ‘team’ sack), no tackles for a loss and only 2 QB hits all night. But the defense did get two gifts from Matt Stafford in the form of a fumble (returned for a TD) and an easy INT for Sam Shields.
Just another W.
There are going to be the haters out there, particularly divisional rivals’ fans who will point to the “blandness” of the Packers victory. “The Packers aren’t that good, they are lucky” or “Wait until they face a ‘good’ team” they might say. The fact is that division games in the NFL are ALWAYS hard, NFC North or otherwise. If you doubt it, take a look at the Falcons, Bears, Giants and 49ers who all lost to inferior division rivals over the past few weeks. Any given Sunday, as the saying goes, any NFL team can beat another. Division rivalries prove it more often than any other matchup.
What happened on Sunday night is that the Packers made plays when it counted. While it looked to be a shootout a la last year’s season finale at the beginning, the Packers overcame a costly fumble by Rodgers in the red zone (and subsequent TD drive) by stymieing the Lions offense whenever they had the ball the rest of the way. After those first two possessions, the Lions never made it into the red zone again. They were able to move the ball, but the Packers offense was able to win the field position game.
What doesn’t show up on the stat sheets or in the highlight reel is how well the Packers have been playing as a team, resilient and able to overcome adversity. The Packers were shorthanded at nearly every position Sunday night, but they cobbled together a win through running the ball behind a ramshackle offensive line and timely playmaking by Rodgers.
This Packers team just isn’t the same team that won 15 games last season and never trailed in the fourth quarter until the loss against the Chiefs. Injuries have, if you’ll pardon the pun, hamstrung this team since week two. The good news is that players that might have been forced to IR in previous years will be able to return for the Packers to finish the season. Sam Shields is finally back and making an impact. Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson may be back for this weekend. Jennings has had surgery and is back in the lineup and it is only a matter of time until he, Jordy, JJ, Cobb and Finley are all lined up and the Packers free-for-all offense is back instilling fear into the hearts of defensive secondaries.
I wasn’t looking forward to this tough stretch of NFC Norris division games, particularly with the injuries, but the Pack has come through so far. As long as they keep putting up Ws, style doesn’t matter, I’ll take ho-hum anytime!
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