PLAY OF THE GAME
After last week’s loss at Seattle, coach Mike McCarthy lamented the number of “shot” plays left uncalled on his play chart.
He dialed up one at a critical time to help beat the Jets.
After the Jets had tied the game 24-24 with 2:21 remaining in the third quarter, McCarthy trotted out a run-heavy formation with tight ends to the left (Andrew Quarless) and right (Richard Rodgers), and fullback John Kuhn and running back Eddie Lacy lined up in the “I” formation.
The Jets lined up their defense accordingly, with eight defenders lined up within 4 yards of the ball and a ninth defender, safety Dawan Landry, lingering just 6 yards off the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers faked the handoff to Lacy, who went left to help left tackle David Bakhtiari pick up blitzing cornerback Darrin Walls – though neither did a great job, with Walls hitting Rodgers after the ball was thrown. Kuhn went to the right to provide some necessary help against Quinton Coples, who had gotten around Richard Rodgers.
Jordy Nelson, who was lined up wide right, ran an out-and-up against the Jets’ top cornerback, 2013 first-round pick Dee Milliner, and caught the ball around midfield. The last line of defense, 2014 first-round safety Calvin Pryor, quickly converged on Nelson at the sideline, but Nelson used his experience to take the ball inside. Pryor couldn’t keep his feet and fell to the turf at the 43, and Nelson was off to the races for an 80-yard touchdown and the decisive score.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
This game was one of Rodgers’ finest moments. For one, the 18-point comeback was the biggest of his career and the fourth-biggest in franchise history.
Rodgers’ statistics are outstanding. He completed 25-of-42 passes for 346 yards, with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 109.8 passer rating. Beyond the stats, though, are the circumstances. Rodgers faced constant pressure from Rex Ryan’s attacking defense. With backup Derek Sherrod struggling at times at right tackle, Rodgers was sacked four times and absorbed 11 quarterback hits, according to the official statistics. On a key touchdown drive just before halftime, he was hit (illegally) by Jason Babin on an 11-yard pass to DuJuan Harris, hit by Coples on a deep incompletion to Nelson and hit again by Babin on the touchdown to Randall Cobb.
“I have a lot of respect for Rex and the job that he’s done,” Rodgers said. “He presents so many challenges to an offense because they give you so many different types of looks, and he does it with personnel, as well. A lot of different coverages behind some of his fronts, he’s comfortable going his base personnel to our sub personnel. Instead of going nickel, he leaves his base out there, they run different pressures and coverages behind it and they did a good job of keeping us off-guard there the majority of the game. But we got into a little rhythm there, got some tempo finally and were able to cap off those last couple drives with touchdowns.”
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL
At one point, the Packers were in danger of starting the season 0-2. That might have been a death sentence. Over the past five seasons, only one team – last year’s Panthers – started the season 0-2 but rallied into the playoffs.
Instead, the Packers rallied and they find themselves tied for first place in the NFC North heading into a key period. They visit Detroit (1-1) on Sunday and Chicago (1-1) next Sunday before hosting Minnesota (1-1).
“It’ll be a big stretch,” Rodgers said. “Usually, we have stretches late in the season where we’re playing these opponents in successive weeks. It’ll be tough. Two of them are on the road, and then we have a short week. So, it doesn’t get any easier. These are common opponents, it’ll be big for us to make sure that we’re getting our scheme the right way and trying to find ways this week to stop that offense and slow down that front that Detroit has. They have a new coach and some new players, and that’ll be the first of three division games that we need to win.”
At least they’ll have some momentum from what might be a character-building victory. Trailing 21-3 and with nothing going right, the Packers turned things around on offense and defense.
“They have grit,” McCarthy said. “I really like the character and makeup of our players. Everyone likes to talk about talent and measurable, experience and production. But this group, they’re wired the right way. They work the right way. We improved as a team today.”
3: Points allowed by Green Bay’s defense on the final nine possessions, with the Jets gaining 132 yards and nine first downs.
6: Missed tackles, unofficially, by the Packers’ defense, according to Packer Report’s running tally. That unit missed 17 tackles at Seattle.
9: Catches in each of the first two games by Jordy Nelson. Including a nine-catch game at Chicago in Week 17 of last season, Nelson has three consecutive nine-catch games. He’s the first player in franchise history to achieve that since Don Hutson in 1942.
18: Consecutive successful field goals by Mason Crosby, the second-longest streak in franchise history behind Crosby’s run of 23 in a row set in 2010-11.
21: Points allowed by Green Bay’s defense on the first three possessions, with the Jets gaining 180 yards and 10 first downs.
37: Rushing yards allowed by the Packers in the second half
64.1: Geno Smith’s passer rating. In Dom Capers’ tenure, the Packers are 28-1 when they hold the opposing quarterback to a rating less than 70.
80: Rushing yards by Green Bay’s offense in each of the first two games of the season. It averaged 133.5 last season.
80: Yards, the length of Nelson’s touchdown. He has four career 80-plus-yard touchdown receptions, tying Greg Jennings for the franchise lead and the active NFL lead.
209: Receiving yards by Nelson, representing 60.4 percent of Green Bay’s total passing output.
316: Rushing yards allowed by the Packers against Seattle and the first half against the Jets.
3,030: Career passing attempts for Rodgers, the third-most in franchise history. At the time of his 3,000th attempt against the Jets, he had thrown 53 career interceptions. That’s tops in league history, with Neil O’Donnell holding the old mark with 59 picks.
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.