Monday, October 15, 2012

Packers lasso Texans 42-24

In their most dominating performance on both sides of the ball in a long time, the Green Bay Packers upset the Houston Texans in Houston last night 42-24. It was even better than the score indicated; Houston's final touchdown came courtesy of a late blocked punt recovered in the endzone for a TD.

This is the game Packer fans have been waiting for all season long. At 2-3, the Pack's back was against the wall. After blowing a second half 18-point lead in Indianapolis last Sunday, the Packers dominated this game -- both offensively and defensively -- from the start and never let up.

Offense Clicks
Despite a few sacks and dropped balls, the offense showed what it is capable of doing. The offensive line generally held up well against arguably one of the league's better defensive fronts to this point in the season. RB Alex Green, getting his first start in place of the injured Cedric Benson, performed quite well and did his job by making the defense respect his running ability. He had 22 carries for 65 yards, with a long run of 10 yards. The wide receivers made some remarkable catches which helped to mask a few inconvenient drops. Jordy Nelson had 9 receptions for 121 yards and three touchdowns. After only having one TD catch all season, Nelson had his coming out party for 2012. Second-year standout Randall Cobb had 7 catches for 102 yards. James Jones had just three catches for 33 yards, but two of those were for touchdowns and were amazing catches. Even TE Tom "Mr. Tattoo" Crabtree had two catches for 62 yards and a touchdown, including an evening-long 48 yards. Oh, yeah...the man throwing all those passes was of course QB Aaron Rodgers who was 24 of 37 for 338 yards and those six touchdowns. His quarterback rating was something like 133 if memory serves.

Defense Dominates
The defense played fast and aggressive at the start, stopping the run and getting to Texans' QB Matt Schaub for three sacks on the night. They also forced three interceptions, one by Sam Shields and two by rookie Casey Hayward. Playing without NT B.J. Raji who was sidelined with his ankle injury from last week's game, veteran Ryan Pickett was extremely stout against the run. Rookie Jerel Worthy played extremely well, as did C.J. Wilson and Mike Neal. LB A.J. Hawk also played a good game at the line, even picking up one of the three sacks on the night. While LB Clay Matthews didn't get a sack on the evening, he was making life miserable all night long for Schaub. Safety Charles Woodson was often used in the position of an outside linebacker as the night went on and the Packers began sustaining injuries.

Injuries Hit Hard
In that regard, the win was a costly one for the Packers on the injury front. Reports are that LB D.J. Smith (starting in place of the injured Desmond Bishop, who is out for the season) and running back Brandon Saine suffered significant right knee injuries. Both players were said to be on crutches in the locker room with their knees heavily wrapped. Both players could be lost for the season. Rookie LB Nick Perry sustained a knee injury in the second quarter and didn't return to the game. CB Sam Shields got kicked in the right shin late in the game and also didn't return.

What's Ahead
This is the game we've been waiting for, Packer fans. Now let's see if the team can put two wins together back-to-back for the first time this season. They can do that next weekend in St. Louis. The Rams are also 3-3, but that's where the comparison ends.

With two home games, against the Jaguars and Cardinals, following the trip to St. Louis, the Packers could be 6-3 going into their bye week, which would set them up well for the second half of the season. With five of their remaining seven games against NFC North division opponents, the Packers could be in position for a playoff run. If they keep up the intensity on display last night. And if injuries don't disrail them.

There's a long way to go in the season, Packer fans. What we saw last night gives hope it may still be a good one.

P.S. I'm very glad to say my pre-game prediction was wrong. I'm very glad indeed.