The Packers may not have had an offensive explosion, but they looked good taking care of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 20-3. Here’s how they did it.
Offensive Ups and Downs
Offensively Aaron Rodgers had a solid day, passing for 318 yards and a touchdown while completing over 75% of his passes. A pedestrian game for Rodgers, but very good by any objective standard. Both Randall Cobb (11 catches, 131 yards) and Jordy Nelson (9 catches, 113 yards, and one touchdown) played well. Eddie Lacy also performed for Green Bay, running for 99 yards on just 17 carries, including one long touchdown. All credit goes to the offensive line, which played well for the ninth straight week.
On the other hand, Green Bay was unable to find production out of the remainder of their offensive weapons. Rodgers’s third best weapon in the air was James Starks, who had a mere 22 yards on 4 receptions. Struggling rookie Davante Adams dropped two passes, continuing a streak of bad play. The offense sputtered in the Tampa Bay half of the field repeatedly, losing points to drops, penalties, a missed field goal, and one failed fourth down conversion. While it seemed that Green Bay would break this game open, that didn’t happen until a late Nelson touchdown. Given the pathetic performance from Tampa Bay, an even bigger margin of victory would have given confidence heading into the playoffs, where Green Bay will likely have to play at least one road game.
Defensively, Green Bay feasted on a poor Tampa Bay line, sacking quartberback Josh McCown 7 times and intercepting him once. The Bucs were only able to muster 109 yards. Clay Matthews had a particularly good day, recording 2.5 sacks, 3 tackles for a loss, 4 QB hits, and one batted pass. Julius Peppers added another 2 sacks. AJ Hawk saw limited snaps for the third time in four weeks. Datone Jones closed the game for the Packers by intercepting an ill-advised McCown pass.
Safeties Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix probably had their strongest day as a tandem. Burnet had 10 tackles and half a quarterback sack, and stuffed one running play behind the line. Dix was solid against the run all day, and with the exception of a notable play where he was beat on a deep ball by Vincent Jackson, was good in the passing game as well. Both played fast, a positive sign for one of Green Bay’s question marks.
As of this writing, the Detroit Lions have taken a late 17-14 lead over the Chicago Bears. The result of the game, however, is essentially unimportant from a Packer perspective. In either case the Lions will be heading to Lambeau Field in week 17, and these two teams will be playing for a division title. Depending on how the rest of the games shake out, the Packers or Lions may even enjoy a playoff bye week. We will be watching this afternoon’s Indianapolis Colts vs. Dallas Cowboys game, as well as the featured game this evening, when the Arizona Cardinals host the Seattle Seahawks. The NFC is shaping up for an exciting finish.