Friday, October 23, 2015

Packers down Chargers, go into bye 6-0

At this point, Packers fans, it's a bit of old news that the Green Bay Packers beat the San Diego Chargers last Sunday, 27-20, in heart-stopping fashion, and in the process giving head coach Mike McCarthy his 100th regular season win. McCarthy now trails only the legendary Curly Lambeau for wins as Packers head coach. Congrats, Coach McCarthy. (Oh, by the way, Lambeau has 209 regular season wins.)

Behind a franchise record-setting performance from Chargers QB Philip Rivers (43 of 65 passes for 503 yards and two touchdowns without committing a single turnover), the Pack's defense was lit up like Otis on the Andy Griffith Show.

The Packers defense was on the field for roughly 40 minutes -- two-thirds of the available clock time -- trying to defend against one of the best pocket passers in the league. Kudos to Mr. Rivers for his performance. For even when the Packers did get pressure on him, which, to be fair, was quite often, he was still able to get the ball out courtesy of his quick release.

Still, while racking up all that yardage and roughly 40 more offensive plays than the Packers, the Chargers were only two for six in the red zone and, most importantly, still lost.

The final series for the Chargers was emblematic of the Packers defense on the day. With the Chargers having first and goal at the three yardline, the Pack held them out of the endzone on three straight plays with no gain, capped with the great pass break up in the end zone by rookie defensive back and first round pick, Damarious Randall.

Packers RB James Starks racked up 112 yards on 10 carries against the Chargers, including a 65-yard TD run...the Pack's longest TD run in almost seven years.
Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A depleted Packers offense continued to sputter -- but do enough -- to win. WR Davante Adams was held out once again and TE/WR Ty Montgomery was injured early in the game and is expected to also miss the Denver game following the bye week. RB Eddie Lacy was still hobbled by his lingering ankle injury (which may be worse than he or the Packers are letting on) and was ineffective on a few carries. In his place, James Starks had a great day, carrying 10 times for 112 yards including a spectacular spin-to-the-backside 65-yard touchdown run, the longest for the Packers in nearly seven years.

Other players also made plays. WR Jeff Janis made the most of his opportunities, catching two passes for 79 yards and making a huge hustle block downfield on Starks' TD run. Let's also not forget that short shovel pass from Aaron Rodgers to Janis on a scramble which turned into a 33-yard play down to the San Diego 20-yard line in the fourth quarter.

So, going into the bye weekend, the Packers are banged up and hoping to get healthy. Despite key injuries to key players, some season-ending, the Packers are 6-0 for just the eighth time in the team's long, long history. As this great article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes, "The first six Packers teams that began 6-0 all won World Championships. The 2011 Packers started the year 13-0, went 15-1 in the regular season, then lost in the NFC divisional playoffs."

So there is a long way to go in this 2015 season, Packers fans. In the next two games after the bye, the Pack goes on the road to take on the also undefeated Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers, followed by four divisional games. This is the heart of the schedule. While off to a great start, there are still lots of areas for improvement. But just imagine what this team could do if it was at 100 percent.

For now, though, Packers fans...enjoy the week off. Enjoy your undefeated Green Bay Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!