The Green Bay Packers went on an 18-play, 73-yard drive that consumed 11 minutes to start the fourth quarter and bury the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
When the marathon drive was over, the Packers led 23-14 with 4 minutes to play. There was little hope that poor Christian Ponder could lead a miracle comeback for our Helga-horned neighbors to the west.
The Packers held the ball for so long on that drive because they looked to move the chains on third down instead of trying for the big play. On this drive, it was better for the Packers to be the tortoise than the hare.
Normally, I’m all for the Packers going deep on third down. They have the personnel to do it.
But it hasn’t been working and you can only bang your head against the wall for so long.
Let’s take a closer look at the third down plays on the game-clinching drive:
Third and 8 on GB 28
Here comes the rollout and inevitable toss 30 yards down the field, right? Wrong. Greg Jennings runs an in-route and gets just enough for the first despite juggling the catch. Nice call and a good decision by Rodgers.
Third and 2 on GB 44
Rodgers was flushed right and managed to run past the marker. It looked like he wanted to launch one downfield, but thought better of it.
Third and 5, on MN 48
Rodgers hits Finley on another in-route and Finely comes up with the fist despite tight coverage from Chad Greenway. This is exactly the type of play the Packers need to run to bust the cover-2 and keep the sticks moving. Of course, they do try and run this type of play sometimes, only to see Finley drop it. Good to see No. 88 hang on and get all fired up. (If you got upset over Finley’s celebration on this catch, please don’t visit this website or watch another Packers game ever again. Emotion is a good thing. Especially after that catch.)