Report Card: Packers-Giants

With Aaron Rodgers turning in a career-best performance, the Packers' passing game gets high marks from Sunday's 45-17 rout of the Giants.

PASSING OFFENSE: A — Aaron Rodgers' best performance of the season followed a one-game absence and featured his first 400-yard game (404, to be exact) in the regular season and a career-high-tying four touchdown passes. Rodgers, who was 25-for-37 and compiled a scintillating 139.9 passer rating, hooked up with nine different receivers. What's more, 10 of his completions were of the explosive variety of at least 16 yards, none bigger than an 80-yard touchdown strike to a streaking Jordy Nelson on a rope down the middle of the field. That play, in which Nelson ran past sucked-in safety Antrel Rolle before Rodgers delivered the football, was the epitome of Rodgers' near-perfect completion rate off frequent use of play-action. Greg Jennings (seven receptions for 142 yards) and Nelson (four catches for a career-high 124 yards) had 100-yard efforts. The pass protection against a vaunted Giants front was outstanding, keeping the hits (three) and sacks (two officially, though one resulted from an inadvertent fumble) of Rodgers to a bare minimum. Not even three dropped passes and Green Bay's lone turnover, on a fumble by Nelson as he tried to reach out with the football for more yardage, could diminish what the Packers achieved in 40-plus pass plays.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-plus — At face value on a line-by-line basis, the numbers produced by the back-by-committee trio of Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn and Dimitri Nance are subpar. They combined for all of 93 yards on 33 carries for a paltry per-rush average of 2.8 yards. Jackson was worse as the primary ball-carrier with 18 attempts for 39 yards (2.2 average). Yet, increasing the frequency of run plays for the second straight game had a profound effect on Green Bay's unbridled success through the air. The Packers churned out 119 yards on 35 rushes, including two scrambles by Rodgers that netted 26 yards (long of 15). Kuhn's first three-touchdown game as a pro included two on runs, highlighted by an 8-yard blast on an inside handoff out of the I-formation behind the lead block of left guard Daryn Colledge. Rookie right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who held up well in pass protection against Justin Tuck, missed a block on the Pro Bowl left end for a negative run by Jackson.

B.J. Raji drops Eli Manning.
Tom Dahlin/Getty Images
PASS DEFENSE: C — The Packers came up with a season-high four interceptions, but things weren't all rosy for the defense in coverage. One of those picks (by rookie nickel back Sam Shields) wouldn't have counted had the Giants not exhausted their replay challenges. Subsequent interceptions by safety Nick Collins and linebacker A.J. Hawk in the fourth quarter had more to do with mistake-prone Eli Manning putting the football up for grabs as the Giants dug themselves a bigger hole on the scoreboard. The first interception, by cornerback Tramon Williams, also was on a badly thrown ball by Manning downfield. Manning (17-for-33, 301 yards) did have his good moments and capitalized on one-on-one coverage breakdowns by cornerback Charles Woodson and Williams for touchdown throws of 36 and 85 yards to Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, respectively. The Nicks touchdown was the culmination of three consecutive plays in which Woodson slipped, committed an illegal-contact penalty and slipped again. The big play by Manningham (four catches for 132 yards) was the first touchdown allowed by Williams this season. Nose tackle B.J. Raji had the only sack of Manning.

RUSH DEFENSE: A-minus — The two biggest takeaways by Green Bay's opportunistic unit came in running situations. Woodson redeemed himself after his coverage woes in the second quarter by extending his left hand far enough as he was being blocked on a run blitz off the right side to knock the football out of the clutches of Ahmad Bradshaw on a third-and-2 run to the left off a direct snap. That turnover early in the third quarter led to three points for Green Bay after it was up by just seven. Linebacker Clay Matthews later in the quarter effectively put away the Giants, who were down 31-17, when he ran down Brandon Jacobs from behind and punched the football out of Jacobs' right hand near the sideline for a costly fumble in Packers territory after Jacobs had picked up a game-high 21 yards. Manning had New York's only other substantial run with a 12-yard scramble. Down for most of the game, the Giants had to go away from pounding the football. They had 21 rushing attempts for only 90 yards — 55 below their fifth-rated season average coming into the game.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus — The Packers' maligned coverage units turned in one of their better showings this season, a week after they suffered the ignominy of New England Patriots lineman Dan Connolly's record-setting, 71-yard return. New York's return averages were pitiful — 18.6-yard average on kickoffs and 4.3 on punts. Replay review overturned a Nicks fumble caused by Charlie Peprah on a kickoff runback. Punter Tim Masthay was adequate in the chilly conditions. He pinned the Giants inside the 20 late in the game with a 54-yard kick and had a net average of 39 yards in five attempts. Mason Crosby split the uprights on all of his kicks, including six extra points and a 31-yard field goal. The return tandem of Shields on kickoffs (15.0 average) and Williams on punts (3.5 average) struggled.

COACHING: A — With their backs against the wall, the Packers not only prevailed but they kept their postseason aspirations alive with their most dominating performance of the season. Head coach/play-caller Mike McCarthy didn't hold back in Rodgers' return to action from his latest head injury and repeatedly flummoxed the Giants' highly regarded defense. A second straight week of well-balanced play-calling between the pass and run enabled Rodgers to thrive with play-action and by going deep as the Packers piled up a season-high 515 yards and held the football for more than 37 minutes. The combination of Green Bay never trailing and controlling the line of scrimmage when the Giants did run allowed defensive coordinator Dom Capers to have his ball-hawking charges zero in on Manning and generate a season-high six takeaways.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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