Key to the game
There's no point in getting lost in the details.
Simply, the 2011 Packers made their first appearance in 2012.
With Aaron Rodgers flashing his MVP form, the offense was dominant against one of the NFL's best defenses. Yes, Rodgers threw for 338 yards and six touchdowns. And, yes, Jordy Nelson emerged from the Witness Protection Program to make nine catches for 121 yards and three touchdowns.
Just as importantly, Rodgers averaged 9.13 yards per attempt after entering the night averaging 6.92. Last season, he averaged 9.25 per attempt — the fourth-highest rate since 1970. With that, Rodgers hit Nelson for a 41-yard touchdown to give the Packers a 7-0 lead. Later, Tom Crabtree added a 48-yard touchdown. Big plays have been few and far between, so that, as much as anything, was a positive sign.
"Jordy's a great player," Rodgers said. "He's a phenomenal, phenomenal athlete. He gives you a lot of confidence as a quarterback. When you put the ball in his area, he's going to come up with it. He made some big catches for us. The touchdown really got us going early in the game. It was just him running by the corner and making a good play on the ball, and he's strong enough to get in the end zone."
On the other side of the ball, Dom Capers' game plan is the same most weeks: stop the run and make the opposition one-dimensional.
It worked in impressive fashion after allowing 6.1 yards per carry last week at Indianapolis. Arian Foster was held to just 29 yards on 17 attempts. On eight running plays on first-and-10 and another on first-and-5, Foster managed just 13 yards. The rundown: 2, 2, minus-2, 1, 1, 5, 3, minus-1 and 2 yards. That put the Texans in plenty of uncomfortable second-down situations.
"To stop the run, what you need is the front seven to be very unselfish, and that's what we did tonight – especially with our front four," said linebacker A.J. Hawk, who had a team-high 10 tackles. "(When) the defensive linemen stay in their gaps, take up two blockers, it lets everyone flow and run. They have a unique running game with how they like to stretch and stretch. Arian is very patient and finds cutback lanes all the time. We felt like if we could make him bounce and bounce east and west, not let him hit those downhill seems, and I think we did that tonight."
By the numbers
0: Points on game-opening drives until Sunday, when the Packers marched 67 yards for a touchdown on a drive extended when three Texans lined up offside on a punt.
2: Entering the game, James Jones was the only receiver in the league with three two-touchdown games over the past seven regular-season games. Make it four two-touchdown games in the past eight regular-season games. He's done it in three consecutive games — a first for a Packers receiver since Don Hutson in 1943.
3: Points on second-half-opening drives until Sunday, when the Packers marched 80 yards for a touchdown. That drive was kept alive by an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on a field goal and an unnecessary-roughness penalty when a third-down completion failed to gain a first down.
3: The Packers' winning margin in turnovers. Green Bay entered the game tied for 17th at minus-1 while Houston was fourth at plus-8. Green Bay is 30-5 under Mike McCarthy when finishing at least plus-3.
6.1: The average yards per play by Green Bay's offense. The Packers entered the night averaging just 5.2 per play — far below last season's average of 6.6.
18:52: Amount of time, in minutes and seconds, that the Texans trailed this season. They trailed for the final 56:34 against the Packers.
24: Number of regular-season games started by Aaron Rodgers since the Packers were an underdog, according to sportsbook Bovada. The Packers were 2.5-point underdogs in Week 12 of 2010, a 20-17 loss at Atlanta, and favored for the rest of the regular season other than Matt Flynn's start at New England. The Packers were favored in the first 15 games of last season, a 6.5-point underdog in last year's finale with Flynn at quarterback, and favored in the first five games of this season until being an underdog at Houston. The Packers were underdogs in 2010 playoff wins at Atlanta and Philadelphia.
29: Yards gained by Arian Foster. Since taking over as the Texans' full-time starter in 2010, Foster had been held to less than 30 yards just two times in 35 games. His 1.7-yard average was the second-worst of his career.
41 and 48: The distance of the touchdown catches by Jordy Nelson and Tom Crabtree, respectively. Entering the game, the Packers had just one completion of 40-plus yards.
100: Percent of red-zone possessions turned into touchdowns by the Packers after going 3-for-3. Green Bay entered the night with a league-best rate of 73.3 percent while Houston's defense ranked sixth at just 36.4 percent.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.