Play of the Game
Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers likes to talk about “adversity defense.” The best defenses can snuff out a threat when put in a bad situation. And that’s just what the Packers’ defense did in its second possession of the game.
The Buccaneers had just seized some early momentum when Aaron Rodgers was sacked and fumbled. Tampa Bay’s offense took possession at its 45-yard line and only about 20 yards from being in position to score the first points of the game. Instead, on first down, blitzing linebacker Sam Barrington wrapped up quarterback Josh McCown and forced a throwaway. On second down, safety Morgan Burnett and defensive tackle Mike Daniels stormed into the backfield and sacked McCown. On third down, linebacker Clay Matthews diagnosed a screen and batted down the pass. Threat extinguished and tone set.
Player of the Game
Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers had the splash plays but it was one of the defensive captains, safety Morgan Burnett, who was the driving force behind Green Bay’s outstanding defensive performance.
Burnett finished with 10 tackles (nine solo), a half-sack and a tackle for loss. Seven of those tackles came in the run game, where the Buccaneers gained 6 yards. On the one completion he allowed in coverage, the Bucs gained 4 yards.
“It was a great effort,” Burnett said. “Guys came out really dialed in and focused. Everyone was on the same page. Everyone was communicating and clicking on all cylinders. That's the way it has to be at this time. I know it's not the playoffs, but this is considered the playoffs for us. We've got to treat every game like it's the most important game. Now we've just got to keep on pushing.”
Gazing into the Crystal Ball
Anything other than a win on Sunday against Detroit would be a colossal disappointment. The Packers, of course, have won a Super Bowl by taking the road less traveled, doing it in 2010 as the No. 6 seed. Nonetheless, the Packers inexplicably can’t function offensively away from Lambeau Field. Even with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback and Eddie Lacy at running back providing a dynamic one-two punch, they’re averaging 21.0 points per game at home compared to 41.1 points per game at home. If the Packers can beat the Lions, they’d need only win one road game rather than three to get to the Super Bowl.
Numbers Worth Noting
0: First downs allowed by the Packers on Tampa Bay’s first five possessions.
0: Yards allowed by the Packers on Tampa Bay’s first five possessions.
0: Touchdowns by Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans. The towering rookie receiver had nine in his previous seven games.
3: First downs allowed by the Packers in the second half.
4: Yards, the longest rush by Tampa Bay.
5: Players in Packers history with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, with Eddie Lacy joining Ryan Grant, Ahman Green, John Brockington and Jim Taylor. With his 99 yards on Sunday, Lacy has 1,039 for the season.
5.8: Yards per carry by Lacy. In his last six games, he’s averaged 5.6 yards and had games of 97, 98, 99 and 125 yards.
7: Sacks by the Packers, their most of the season. Green Bay had six vs. Minnesota in Week 5 but no more than four in any other game. The last time the Packers had seven sacks was Week 16 of the 2012 season against Tennessee.
9: Receptions by Jordy Nelson, giving him 92 for the season. Sterling Sharpe (four times), Robert Brooks (once) and Donald Driver (once) are the only Packers players with 90 receptions in a season. Nelson and Driver (2006) are tied for the fifth-most receptions in franchise history.
10: Sacks by Clay Matthews this season. With 2.5 on Sunday, he’s got 7.5 in the seven games since being moved to a part-time role at inside linebacker. He had 2.5 sacks in the first eight games of the season. Matthews has 60 sacks for his career; only Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (74.5) and Reggie White (68.5) have recorded 60 sacks for the Packers.
9: Turnover plays forced by Julius Peppers this season, with four forced fumbles (including one on Sunday), three fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
10: The NFL’s gamebook lists the 10 longest plays for each team. Green Bay’s 10th-longest play was for 15 yards. Tampa Bay’s was for 4 yards.
11: Receptions by Randall Cobb, a career-high total that gave him 87 for the season. That’s the eighth-most in franchise history.
16: Rushing yards allowed by the Packers. That’s Green Bay’s best performance since yielding 13 rushing yards against Chicago in Week 3 of the 2011 season.
17: Consecutive victories by the Packers, with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, following a loss, dating to a Week 6 loss in 2010. He’s thrown for 5,069 yards (298.2 per game) with 48 touchdowns and seven interceptions in those games.
38:38: Time of possession by the Packers. They’re 6-0 this season when controlling the ball more than their opponent.
93: Net passing yards allowed by the Packers. That’s the team’s best since yielding 74 net passing yards against Chicago in Week 2 of the 2012 season.
109: Total yards allowed by the Packers. Their previous season-best yardage total was 299 yards against Minnesota in Week 5. It’s the lowest of the Dom Capers era and a franchise best since limiting Minnesota to 104 yards in Week 16 of the 2006 season.
1,200: Nelson (1,433) and Cobb (1,207) yards became the second 1,200-yard tandem in franchise history. Javon Walker (1,382 yards) and Driver (1,208) reached that plateau in 2004.
1,497: Receiving yards by Brooks in 1995. Nelson needs 65 yards next week to break that record.
Pick up some Packers gear...click here!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.