A lot of people are figuring all is well now with the Packers after their 30-13 victory at Minnesota put them back in first (by a tiebreaker) in the NFC North.
But a closer look at the game reveals that a couple of issues that have been plaguing the Packers offense for much of this season were still prevalent; dropped passes (3), incompletions (18) and third down inefficiency (6 of 16, 38%).
What made the difference in the Packers winning offensive performance in Minneapolis were a couple of tough catches two by James Jones on a second half scoring drive and Eddie Lacy, who broke tackles in the ground game.
Jones latched on to a 37-yard third down pass, out-battling a defender for the grab. Packers’ receivers don’t get a lot of separation, so they will have to win the battle at the ball more often than not if this offense is to succeed.
Then Jones made a spectacular play along the sideline of the end zone to catch a 27-yard tracer from quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the first play of the fourth quarter, giving Green Bay a 14 point lead.
Lacy broke four tackles during a 22-carry, 100 yard rushing performance. He ran with authority, hit the hole quicker than we’ve seen this season and following a week off he looked fresh.
Rodgers went into the Minnesota game listed as probable with a sore right shoulder. It is hard to tell how much that injury has affected his throwing, but over the course of the last three games his completion percentage is 53.1%. Remember, he is a 65% career passer!
Rodgers has not had a 100+ passer rating in four games and he’s a guy who has 66 career 100+ passer rating games!
The thing I admire most about Rodgers is his toughness and accountability. He does not make excuses, but in this case I’ll bet he has not been 100% and maybe that sore shoulder has something to do with some missed throws.
Playing through and overcoming pain is what these guys do (especially the great ones), and some of the plays he has made in these last two games (the Justin Perillo TD pass vs. Detroit and Jones in the corner of the endzone at Minnesota) are examples of that.
Trust me, after tomorrow night the next number that will go up on the north façade of Lambeau Field will be No. 12.
The Minnesota victory for the Packers was a statement to the Vikings, but also a “gut check” for this Green Bay team. Now to make it the defining moment of the season, the Packers must back it up by taking care of business the rest of the way, starting with a Thanksgiving night game against their oldest rival.