Packers Drive Rewind: 7 Straight Runs Give Packers the Lead
Packers Drive Rewind is a new weekly post I hope to do for the rest of the season. That’s the goal, anyway. With the holidays coming up, I might not have time, or I just might forget. You never know.
Anyway, I want to take one key drive from each game and break it down with some film and my own thoughts. I’m not doing this to lecture everyone or prove how much I know about X’s and O’s. I just want to talk football. I did something similar last week.
If you think my observations are off the mark, or you have additional insight to add, please do so in the comments section. We have a lot of very knowledgeable readers on this site and I always enjoy their perspective on some of the more nuanced aspects of the game.
(Note: It’s hard to see numbers on some of the Lions players. My apologies if I mix up a few players.)
Here we go:
Fourth quarter. Packers 17, Lions 17. Packers ball on their own 41 with 14:49 to play.
The Packers run the ball seven consecutive times, capped by a 14-yard touchdown from DuJuan Harris. The powerful drive appeared to demoralize the Lions and the Packers won 27-20. Packers fans tear off their shirts and start posing like Hulk Hogan.
Play 1: Alex Green runs left for 6 yards
Alex Green says, “Give me the ball and let’s get this party started.” Kyle Vanden Bosch slants in, but gets taken out by his own momentum and Marshall Newhouse pushing him down the line. Nice job by Green to recognize this and burst through the hole after John Kuhn got in DeAndre Levy’s way. We’ve seen Green fall over himself or not see similar cuts this season. Watching him burst through a hole is a good sign of progress. Jeff Saturday and Evan Dietrich-Smith manhandle Nick Fairley. I wonder if Saturday was supposed to get off the block and try to pick up Stephen Tulloch (who eventually made the tackle)?
Play 2: Green runs right for 2 yards
Greg Van Roten checks in, goes in motion, and settles on the right side. Hopefully we get to see a Van Roten Lambeau Leap this season. Not on this play, though. Van Roten stumbles a bit coming off a double-team against Nkdomukong Suh and he’s not quite able to cut off Justin Durant on the second level. Green eventually runs out of room and is forced out by Durant. That’s a challenging block for Van Roten. I wonder if the play would’ve worked better if Kuhn makes that block, but I’m sure McCarthy was trying to mess with Detroit’s reads by sending Kuhn in the other direction.
Play 3: Green runs up the middle for 10 yards
Here’s where Rodgers looks downfield, right? Wrong. Saturday easily gets to the second level this time and is joined by Jermichael Finley. Dietrich-Smith drives Nick Fairley into the ground after Saturday leaves. Sitton takes care of Suh and the middle is wide open. Great job by Dietrich-Smith. Good defensive tackles can blow up plays like this one and Dietrich-Smith made sure it didn’t happen by erasing Fairley.
Play 4: Green runs right for 9 yards
Van Roten is back, this time as part of a full-house backfield. Sitton ties up Fairley. Barclay takes advantage of Cliff Avril heading upfield. The cornerback is lined up 10 yards off the line and the right side is wide open. Van Roten misses his block, otherwise Green probably would have went even further. Green shrugged off Van Roten’s guy and picked up some extra yards, anyway.
Play 5: Ryan Grant runs left for 13 yards
This play got me out of my chair, pumping my fist. Always nice to see a guy like Grant get another chance and reel off a nice gain. It’s even nicer seeing Dietrich-Smith erasing Fairley to open a big hole. This was a great drive for Dietrich-Smith. I can see a new Christmas carol being sung in Green Bay this week: “Baby it’s cold outside. (Baby it’s cold outside). So hand the ball to Ryan Grant. (So hand the ball to Ryan Grant).” Or something like that…
Play 6: Harris runs right for 5 yards
Harris was so excited to see such a big cutback lane that he fell over. Or maybe he’s been watching this Packers’ offensive line run block all season, saw the big push they were getting on this play, thought the world was coming to an end, and dove to take cover. Either way, there was a nice push here and plenty of options for Harris before he biffed it. With the exception of Avril against Tom Crabtree, every Lions defender gets knocked back. Harris ended up with a nice gain despite catching a rabbit.
Play 7: Harris runs right for 14 yards and a touchdown
This time Harris says to hell with the cutback and decides to just burst through an opening and into the end zone. This play was set up perfectly for the Packers. The Lions had three guys on the line spread out wide, leaving only Levy to cover the area between the end and the nose tackle. Dietrich-Smith pulls and absolutely anihalates Levy. Seriously. Rewind it and watch Dietrich-Smith take care of business again. Barclay cuts off the other linebacker and Harris gets to the house in a hurry.
That’s a flex-your-muscles type of drive, isn’t it? It made me want to start breaking things!
Notice what we didn’t see much of on that drive? We didn’t see much of the zone blocking the Packers are known for. Instead we saw a lot of straight ahead, win your matchup type of stuff up front. We also saw Evan Dietrich-Smith pulling and taking guys out.
Whether this drive represents a late-season surge in the Packers’ ground game remains to be seen. Regardless, it sure was fun to watch.——————