15

October

Packers 42, Texans 24: Game Balls and Lame Calls

Aaron Rodgers

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers: SHHHHHH! He’s BAAAAAAAAAAACK!

The Green Bay Packers sent one message to their critics and their fans that had already marked their season as lost. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers perhaps said it best in a post-game interview with NBC:

“SHHHHHHH!”

The Packers upset the previously undefeated Houston Texans 42-24 in their own building to move to 3-3 on the season.   It was an emphatic win that put the rest of the NFL on notice that there is nothing wrong with Aaron Rodgers and that despite the loss of three members of the defense (Nick Perry, D.J. Smith and Sam Shelds) to injury, the defense could make plays and shut down one of the NFL’s best rushing attacks.

It was stunning victory even the most optimistic Packer fan didn’t see coming.

Who stepped up this week and who stepped down?

Game Balls

QB Aaron Rodgers

All week, Rodgers took questions about what was wrong with the Packers and more specifically what was wrong with him.   Rodgers to his credit put full blame on himself, saying that he needed to play better.

On NBC last night, Chris Collinsworth mentioned when he and Al Michaels met with Rodgers in the days before the game and they both noted how angry the reigning NFL MVP sounded.  They said he told them he was sick and tired of being asked about what was wrong with the Packers.  Michaels and Collinsworth quoted Rodgers as saying, “The sky is falling on the outside, but everything is just fine on the inside.”

Rodgers took those words and took out his frustration on the Texans in his most brilliant game this season and perhaps even one of the most brilliant of his career.  Rodgers tied a franchise record with six touchdown passes as he completed 24 of 37 passes for 338 yards.

Want proof Rodgers played with extra fire?  Even though it was called back due to a holding penalty, when Rodgers scrambled for a touchdown run he spiked the ball incredibly hard in the end zone and performed his “title belt” celebration with more fire than anyone had ever seen before.

Rodgers was playing angry.  If that fire continues throughout the rest of the season, the rest of the league is in deep trouble.

WR James Jones

Much like Jordy Nelson had a breakout season a year ago, Jones is having a career year in 2012.  Jones has caught two or more touchdown passes in three consecutive games, becoming only the second Packer to do that. Who is the other one? None other than the great Don Hutson.

That’s pretty elite company for Jones to be in.

With Greg Jennings nursing a nagging groin injury, Jones is making the most of the opportunity.  As a player many fans have been calling for to be traded the past couple seasons,  Jones has gone out there and shown his worth to an offense that is by no means short on playmakers.

With Nelson seeing more double coverage thanks to the absence of Jennings, Jones has found favorable matchups the past few weeks and the game against the Texans was no exception.  Throw in a spectacular one handed touchdown catch and Jones is no longer the weakest link of a strong group of wide receivers.  He’s been a machine for the Packers this season.

One has to wonder if any fans still want him to be traded?

DEs C.J Wilson and Jerel Worthy

Thanks to last week’s meltdown in the second half and the injury to starting defensive tackle B.J. Raji, many thought the Packers defensive line would struggle against the Texans and their potent rushing attack led by Arian Foster.

Those fears were for naught as Wilson and Worthy performed admirably in Raji’s absence.  Each of them recorded a sack and both disrupted the Texans offensive line so much that it allowed Clay Matthews to blitz almost freely.

The Packers limited Foster to only 29 yards on 17 carries in one the best rushing defense performances they have had in a long time.  By helping take away Foster, Wilson and Worthy forced Matt Schaub into some throws and made the Texans offense look very ordinary.

WRs Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb

Many were waiting for Nelson to break out this season, and they finally got it in this game.  Rodgers threw six touchdown passes and half of them were to Nelson.   Cobb didn’t have any touchdown catches, but he caught seven balls for 102 yards and his athletic prowess once again was on display.

Nelson finished the game with nine catches for 121 yards to go along with the three touchdown receptions.  With Jennings still out, the Nelson/Cobb combination could be just as lethal had Jennings been on the field.

The Packers are set at the receiver position for a long time.

Lame Calls

TE Jermichael Finley

Finley deserves credit for playing this week despite being hobbled by injury.  Any player willing to play through pain for the good of his team should be praised.

That said, Finley was not a major part of the game plan.  Perhaps some of this was due to his injury, but when his number was called it was the same old story for the Packers tight end.  Another drop at a critical time and a boneheaded penalty cost the Packers some points.

While it didn’t cost the Packers this week, Finley’s lack of improvement is wearing out the patience of fans more and more every week.  Thanks to the stellar play of Jones, Finley suddenly has become Packers fans’ favorite trade bait and with the improvement in the passing game of Tom Crabtree many are wondering when the coaches will sit Finley due to his lack of production.

Finley needs to be on the hot seat.  Will he ever make it to the top part of this column? Stay tuned.

The occasional soft defense

This might seem like a bit of a nitpick, but the Packers defense still showed flashes of its soft self from the Colts game against the Texans last night.

The score never was really close, but there were times the Packers could have put the Texans away and instead played a soft zone defense and let the Texans and their fans continue to cling to that one piece of hope despite what the scoreboard may say .

Even with Foster being shut down by the Packers,  the Texans still have Andre Johnson who is one of the best receivers in the league.  The Packers in the second half once again seemed to let up off the gas pedal defensively and thanks to a brilliant game by Rodgers, the Packers defense never really faced a critical series for the Texans offense in the game.

Thanks to more injuries, defensive coordinator Dom Capers is going to be challenged to have enough players to effectively run the schemes he wants to run.  He did some of his best work in 2010 when the Packers had 15 players on injured reserve.  He’s probably facing a similar scenario in 2012.

We all know how 2010 ended for the Packers.

There were so many standouts in this game it’s impossible to list them all here.  Who gets your game ball? Did anyone let you down so much that you want to throw a lame call their way?

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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22 Responses to “Packers 42, Texans 24: Game Balls and Lame Calls”

  1. nick perry says:

    Great game guys! I had a feeling all week that the Packers would win but never thought they would dominate like this. It is time to try and trade Finley and stop talking about James Jones. He dropped the ball in 2010, let it go people! Gotta love Hayward and Worthy, both stepped up. This will be a game where we all look back and say it was the turning point of the season. Time for the Packers to start a new 19 game winning streak! GO PACK GO!

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  2. Pat Mc says:

    Three games balls – Casey Hayward (he needs more playing time and Tom Crabtree for stepping up and making the catch for a TD when the Pack needed it.

    Sit Finley the next three weeks to heal his shoulder. Crabtree has earned the playing time on the field and we need to know what the other two TE’s can do.

    The third to Alex Green who put a spark into the running game. I think we are going to see some great runs this year.
    He ran towards the Safety who came up but switched directions leaving the safety in a pile of blockers who man handled the safety. This kid has earned the starting role.

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    • marpag says:

      Yes, Hayward can get a game ball, with this stipulation… that immediately after he receives it, it should be taken away from him for running that one pick out of the endzone when he should have just taken a knee.

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      • Rob says:

        The problem wasn’t in him running it out, it was with running out of bounds. They were leading and needed to run the clock out.

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        • Oppy says:

          Change of possession = clock stoppage. Staying in bounds after a pick doesn’t keep the clock running.

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  3. Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

    i can get frustrated with capers at times as well, but to say anything about the defense is nit picking (like you said). there is no reason to risk giving up a big play that can change the game quickly. the defense gave up 17 points and intercepted 3 passes. he brought pressure when he needed to and played coverage when he needed to as well.

    this was a great win, that I did not think this team would get. but the injuries are scary. they can replace DJ smith, but perry and especially shields are worrisome.

    i think it is safe to say that hayward has proved he can make some plays, but depth in the secondary is extremely important.

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    • Mike says:

      I believe Capers also started to play softer because of how he lost DJ & Perry. I think…hope that Perry & Shields’ injuries are as minor as they seem. Perry seemed to be in good spirits & I thought I lip read one of the trainers saying “you’re fine”. Shields looked more disappointed in the injury, and you never saw his ankle overly bruised or discolored. Again, just hunches but definitely keeping my fingers crossed!

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  4. PackersRS says:

    Nobody mentions AJ Hawk?

    He’s playing to his salary and his draft position. Truth is after Matthews he has been our best defensive player this season.

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    • Mudduckcheesehead says:

      Yeah. A.J. has played shockingly well this season.

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    • Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

      played well this year when moving down hill. awful in coverage though.

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      • Gary says:

        This is why I think Francois needs to fill DJ’s LB spot. He would help in coverage.

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    • marpag says:

      Fully agree about Hawk’s improved play. I’ve always defended him a bit, but he’s definitely an asset at this point.

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  5. frozentundra91 says:

    -The offensive line played very well. Rodgers consistently had a good pocket to throw in. J.J. Watt… that’s about as contained as it gets with him. Can’t ask for a lot more.
    -Hayward and McMillian seem to be only scratching the surface of their potential.
    -Tim Masthay is having a great year. Masthay is like the twelfth man for the defense.

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  6. Nostradomus says:

    Game ball for the GBP fans in the stands. All. Night. Long. GO PACK GO!

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    • Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

      I was there Nostra. And the GB fans were LOUD! My whole sections was screaming GO PACK GO all night. I thought the Texans fan in front of me was going to deck me… lol..

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  7. Dan says:

    If this team would play with that much emotion every week, they would probably reach the SB

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  8. Mojo says:

    One thing I believe people will realize about last nights game is how precise ARod needed to be on his TD throws. Crabtree was wide open on his TD, but Jordy and Jones had tight coverage on their five. Not only did ARod have to zip it in there, but there was very little margin for error. I don’t believe many QB’s in the NFL make those throws with the required combination of both speed and placement.

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    • Michael says:

      Yes those throws were sweet! He threw them where the d backs couldn’t see them, or couldn’t reach the and the receivers made sweet catches!!

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  9. Oppy says:

    CJ Wilson had been showing signs of being a legit contributor since last season, although Packers fans loved to kick him in the ribs instead of watching him play. I’m extremely pleased that he’s been playing so well this year. He’s not flashy, he’s just exactly what you need a 3-4 DE to be.

    Run defense was great last night. I don’t know the last time I got to say that. Pickett is still the best NT on the team. Go pack.

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  10. Bwinky says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, Nostradamus. Bearmeat, if you were in the section I’m thinking (upper corner?), I was in the next one over. You guys were nuts! The amazing thing, folks, was that we Packer fans took over Reliant for the last quarter. Many annoyed (but still gracious) Texan fans putting up with incessant “Go Pack Go” cheers on the ramps on the way out. The Metrorail train was easily 90% green and gold!

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