In Thursday's 37-26 Turkey Day gobbling of the Detroit Lions, the Packers put up a pass-to-run ratio normally associated with a losing team. But for this Packers' team, 41 pass attempts and 15 rushes is the sweet recipe for winning football.
Throw it Donald Driver. Throw it to Greg Jennings. Throw it to James Jones. How about Koren Robinson and Ruvell Martin for good measure? And though Donald Lee had a quiet day, his involvement in the passing game makes the Packers nearly unstoppable. The Packers have too many weapons and too much of a rhythm for opposing teams to stop.
Yes indeed the Packers have found balance, just not the type everyone considers normal. Credit head coach Mike McCarthy, who early in the season recognized an offensive plan that matched his team's talent.
When the Packers needed an answer on offense against the Lions, they threw the ball. Leading 14-6 in the second quarter, the Packers opened up a close game by throwing the ball 20 consecutive times over four straight drives. When Martin caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Brett Favre late in the third quarter, the Packers led 31-12.
At the helm again was Favre, who like his team, is defying the odds. At an age (38) when most quarterbacks are already gone or at the least are on their way out, he is producing better than ever. After a 31-for-41, 381-yard, three-touchdown performance which included a team record 20 straight completions, he has the Packers at 10-1. Slant routes, drag routes, go routes – Favre is getting to it everyone, everywhere.
"You never think he's going to miss one," said McCarthy. "As far as the heavy pass, we went to that in the second quarter. It was really just reaction to what was there. I anticipated a little more two-shell defenses, and a different variety of some of the formation personnel groups that we were in, so we went that way just more of a reaction to how they were playing us."
At this point, the Packers seem to have an answer to every defense they face. With their "Big Five" formation, and three- and four-wideout sets, they have a number of receivers which present serious matchup problems. Combine that with solid pass protection from their offensive line and a veteran quarterback using his knowledge to put his offense in the best play at the line of scrimmage, and the Packers have found an identity which has already led them to heights beyond anyone's imagination.
How is this for balance? Driver 10 catches, Jennings 5 (two TD's), Jones 5, Robinson 2, Martin 1 (a TD). Wait, those are only the wide receivers.
Out of the backfield, Ryan Grant added six catches. The only one who was really left out was Lee (just one catch), but he saw less playing time due to the nature of what the Packers were doing on offense.
Perhaps most impressively, when the Packers needed to work the clock, they put their faith in the passing game. Yes, Grant ran well in the second half (he finished with 101 yards), but when the Lions pulled to 34-26 with 6:34 remaining in the game, the Packers went back to their bread and butter. Jennings caught an 11-yarder for a first down, Driver caught a nine-yarder for a first down, and Jones moved the team into field goal range with a 20-yard catch.
Not only did the Packers wind the clock down under the two-minute warning, but with Mason Crosby's 26-yard field goal, they put the game out of reach.
No one would confuse the Lions for one of the league's top pass coverage teams, but even mixing up defenses did little to deter the Packers' offense. With multiple weapons and a future Hall of Fame quarterback having a renaissance season, there is little anyone can do, it seems, to stop the Packers this year.
Matt Tevsh is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.