The Green Bay Packers bested the Oakland Raiders by a score of 30-20 following a disjointed, but successful, effort keyed by turnovers on defense. Here are a few take-a-ways from the game:
The Good: Ball Hawks
On a day that the Packers solidified a spot in the playoffs via a loss by the New York Giants, they also kept their lead in the NFC North Division. The single-most important factor in beating the Raiders proved to be two first-quarter interceptions by Derek Carr. The first, made by defensive back Micah Hyde, led to a John Kuhn touchdown, and the second was returned for a touchdown by rookie cornerback Damarious Randall. This gave the Packers an early 14-point lead, even though the offense was characteristically ineffective throughout the first half. Though the Packers eventually gave that lead up, Aaron Rodgers and the offense were able to re-gain the lead and hold on for a win.
On the whole, the Packers were able to hold Carr to 276 yards on just 23 for 47 passing. Though Amari Cooper had a big day, overall the Packers won the most important battle of the game: Oakland’s passing offense vs. the Packers passing defense.
The Bad: Running Game
Although the Raiders rush defense is highly ranked, it appeared to some that the Packers may be able to keep up a strong recent ground attack. That proved not to be the case, as the Packers rushed for 103 yards on 28 carries (3.68 YPA). Particularly disappointing was Eddie Lacy, who ran a team-high 11 times for 23 yards. James Starks was better, gaining 51 yards on 9 attempts (with a long run of 25 yards).
This left the Packer passing game to lead the way in the second half. Though far from brilliant, Aaron Rodgers and his receivers, particularly James Jones (6 receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown, but two offensive pass interference penalties) did enough to get the win. Overall, though, the Packers will need to run the ball better, especially in the inclement weather they seem to enjoy every week.
The Ugly: Hanging with Mr. Cooper
Rookie standout wide receiver Amari Cooper had arguably the best game of his career, catching 6 balls for 120 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers were without their number one cornerback Sam Shields, and in fairness his replacements played strong overall. But Cooper appeared too fast, big, and frankly cagey, for the Green Bay defensive backs, and keyed a second half Oakland comeback. Ultimately the Packers were able to shut he and the Oakland passing game down in the late fourth quarter and get the win. I prefer to see the outcome as an excellent young player having one of many great games to come.