1

November

Packers Making the Most of Opponents’ Penalties

Mike McCarthy

Packer coach Mike McCarthy conversing with a pair of refs.

The Packers have had plenty of calls go against them this season, but they’ve also taken advantage of some penalties that have gone in their favor.

Remember the Packers opening drive against the Texans? Aaron Rodgers missed an open James Jones deep and we all groaned while trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with our MVP quarterback. Thankfully, the Texans lined up offside on a punt, giving the Packers a free fist down and Rodgers a re-do on a his deep pass.

This time, Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for a 41-yard touchdown on the very next play. From there, the route was on and order was restored in the Packers universe.

Before continuing, I want to be clear that I’m not saying the Packers have gotten lucky when it comes to penalties going their way. See the Fail Mary, phantom pass interference calls on Sam Shields and various bogus roughing penalties if you think that’s been the case. All I’m doing is pointing out a few instances where the Packers have taken advantage of an opportunity created by an opponent’s penalty.

I was in the stands when Jeff “I Should be a Replacement Ref but for Some Reason I’m Actually a Real Ref” Triplette and his crew missed a key fumble on a New Orleans kick return late in the game. The Saints appeared to take the lead after a field goal on the ensuing drive, but saw those three points wiped off the board due to a holding call.

The field goal re-try was no good, probably because the wind from all the Packers fans inside Lambeau breathing a sigh of relief caused the kick to sail wide.

How about this Sunday against the Jaguars? Hanging onto a six-point lead late in the fourth quarter, the Packers faced third and 7 from their own 47. Instead of going the safe route and trying to just pick up enough yards for a first down, Rodgers launched a bomb to Jones, who held up his hands looking for a pass interference penalty as the ball fell to ground incomplete.

The official closest to the play did not throw a flag. Two of his colleagues did, however, allowing the Packers to extend the drive and eventually kick the game-clinching field goal. Replays showed it was probably the correct call, but a case could also be made that there wasn’t enough for interference.

24

October

Packers Stock Report: Stacking Success Edition

Randall Cobb

Packers WR Randall Cobb is rising in this week’s stock report.

Ever try watching the Packers while a birthday party is going on for a 5 year old?

I’m not sure what’s worse: All the kids running around and distracting you from the game. Or all the adults that don’t pay attention to what’s going on and constantly ask you what just happened.

If I’m not at Lambeau Field, I like to watch the game on my own couch with my wife. We can devote all of our attention to the game and get mad/sad/happy without having to deal with screaming children or chatty adults.

But I persevered on Sunday. I sucked it up and I watched the game with little rugrats screaming and crawling around everywhere while adults talked about everything besides the Packers.

The Packers persevered too. They’re missing several key players, but managed to win their second straight and climb above .500 for the first time this season.

When it comes to mental toughness, both the Packers and myself are rising.

On to the stock report:

Rising

Aaron Rodgers
It doesn’t matter how many injuries the Packers have to deal with as long as Rodgers plays like this. He’s back in MVP form.

Randall Cobb
Talk about efficiency. Cobb was targeted eight times and caught all eight passes (against six different defenders). Cobb also reeled off a big run and continues to get open after Rodgers escapes the pocket.

Casey Hayward
I went back and forth between Jordy Nelson and Hayward for the last player in the rising category. I went with Hayward because it’s nice to finally have some hope for the secondary after last season’s debacle. Hayward got picked on early, but he stood tough and came up with another big interception. We’ll see how Woodson’s injury impacts Hayward’s play.

Steady

Jordy Nelson
It took a while, but Nelson is finally showing that he can be a No. 1 receiver. I’m not sure why, but the Texans and Rams drifted away from playing two-high safeties against the Packers. Nelson is too big for an average corner to deal with one-on-one over and over again. He’s going to win that battle more often than not.

23

October

Packers Highlight Reel: Admiring Rodgers’ 39-yard TD Pass to Cobb

Aaron Rodgers

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.

You might not see a better pass this season from Packers QB Aaron Rodgers than the one you saw to Randall Cobb in the fourth quarter on Sunday to seal the win against the Rams.

Packers fans are probably a little upset about all the injuries on this team right now, especially the latest news about Charles Woodson being out for up to six weeks.

If you’re one of those fans, take a minute and just watch Rodgers connecting with Cobb below. It’ll cheer you right up.

There. Feel better? Good.

That throw was Rodgers telling everyone else that he’s the MVP, dammit. And if you’re going to whisper about the MVP regressing and not playing like a MVP, well, then he’s going to unleash one of those and shut you up in a hurry.

Seriously, that was an amazing throw.

Sprinting to his left, Rodgers still manages to square his shoulders toward his target and release the ball quickly, right where it needed to go.

And watch Rodgers’ upper body while he’s on the run. There’s no jerky movement. His head remains up, eyes locked downfield. There is no sign of panic whatsoever.

If you didn’t see that Rodgers was being chased by several 300-pound men, you would think he’s just going through a drill against air on a warm August afternoon in training camp.

I’ll stop before I venture too far into hyperbole territory, but I think it’s important that we take the time to admire great plays every once in a while.

It’s easy to take great plays for granted because we get caught up in the highs and lows of a season and the week-to-week storylines on a team (especially injuries).

Rodgers to Cobb on Sunday was a great play. Maybe the best we’ll see all season.

Slow down and admire it for a while.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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2

October

Did Sunday’s Victory Save the Packers’ Season?

Randall Cobb

Randall Cobb played a big role in the Packers’ emotional win over the Saints on Sunday.

I laughed when the headline to Kevin Seifert’s game story popped up on my Twitter account Sunday night: “Emotional Packers save their season.”

“Really, Kevin?” I thought. “A season cannot be saved in week four. Calm down.”

I thought Kevin was reaching for a story angle to try and be different, get people riled up and generate web traffic.

But Seifert is an excellent reporter, one that isn’t prone to hyperbole and weird narratives that attempt to push reader’s buttons just for the hell of it. So I clicked on the story, read it, and decided that Seifert might be on to something.

This passage in particular stood out:

At 1-2, the Packers were facing some long odds if they lost Sunday’s game. Since the NFL moved to its current playoff format, 85.3 percent of teams that started 1-3 missed the playoffs. In a league in which most teams have relatively equal talent, the so-called “snowball effect” is very real.

I won’t summarize Seifert’s entire post — read it for yourself — but he makes some excellent points about emotion and the toll it would have taken on the Packers to lose another emotionally-charged game, this time at home to a team that was just as desperate as they were.

Instead let’s focus on the immediate future. If the Packers lost Sunday, not only would they be facing long playoff odds at 1-3, they’d be facing them with their next three games on the road; a tough situation in any case, let alone coming off two straight heartbreaking losses.

It’s silly to project more than three games into the future during the NFL season (even three games might be too far), but there’s a common theme among the Packers next three road opponents: Hope. The next three teams the Packers face all have reasons to be hopeful, and likely view the Packers games as a chance to go from hopeful to confident.

  • The Colts are coming off a bye week armed with a phenom quarterback and Dwight Freeney returning. Their coach was also just admitted to the hospital for treatable leukemia, which means emotions will be running high in that stadium. There’s hope for a promising future in Indianapolis, and what better way to take a step forward than by beating the Packers.
14

October

Packers Friday Injury Report: S Burnett Breaks Hand, Plans to Play Sunday

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy informed reporters Friday that safety Morgan Burnett suffered a broken hand in practice on Thursday, but he’s still expected to play Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. Despite missing Friday’s practice, Burnett is listed as probable and could play with a club around the broken hand. Undrafted rookie M.D. Jennings took Burnett’s snaps in practice today.

McCarthy also said that RT Bryan Bulaga (knee) is “prepared to play” and the “team feels good about his availability for Sunday.” If Bulaga does start against the Rams after missing two straight weeks, he’ll likely play at right tackle with Marshall Newhouse staying on the left side. Newhouse shifted to left tackle against the Falcons after Chad Clifton hurt his hamstring, and played well.

Clifton (hamstring) and DE Mike Neal (knee) are both out, but neither was close or practiced. G Josh Sitton was limited with an ankle injury but is listed as probable. G/C Evan Dietrich-Smith (foot) is questionable after being limited in both Thursday and Friday practices.

WR Greg Jennings (groin) was a full go on Friday after limited participation on Thursday. He’s probable for Sunday and almost certainly will play. Both Clay Matthews (quad) and Charles Woodson (foot/ankle) returned to practice after missing Wednesday and Thursday.

LB Frank Zombo (shoulder) was a full participant all week and plans to play Sunday. Zombo has missed the entire 2011 regular season after breaking his scapula against the Cardinals in the preseason.

TE Andrew Quarless (knee) and CB Pat Lee (ankle) are both listed as probable.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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