Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Packers come up bigger than Giants

OK, I know. That headline was a bit cheesy. Ooops! There's another pun. Get it?


It's about all that can be mustered in light of the Packers 23-16 win over the New York Giants Sunday night at Lambeau Field. What started out in a very promising way -- offensive rhythm, running game, defensive toughness -- wound up being a rather ho-hum victory. I know, I know. No victory in the NFL is either easy or mundane. It's just that many Packer fans, including yours truly, are waiting to see a complete game from this team on both sides of the ball. We do see a dominant defense, no denying that, at this early stage of the season. With the return this week of defensive lineman Mike Pennel from his four-game suspension, the front line of that defense will get even tougher for opposing teams. Gotta like that.
Second-year CB LaDarius Gunter celebrates
after breaking up a pass intended for Giants receiver Victor Cruz.

Photo by Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis

The other part of the defense on display was the depth in the secondary. Despite missing their two starting cornerback, the Packers young D-backs prevented the potentially high-flying Giants passing game from making big plays, let alone breaking big plays. Their only touchdown catch of the night came in the waning moments of the game which, admittedly, did tighten things up for a bit. Not only on the scoreboard but in Packer fans' stomachs, as well.

Offense had its moments, just not enough of them
Things were tighter than they needed to be throughout the game and down the stretch because the Packers just couldn't seem to get unstuck, on offense or special teams. Offensively, the game could have nearly been put away early except for an illegal shift call on WR Davante Adams that negated a great throw by Aaron Rodgers and catch by Randall Cobb resulting in a touchdown that would have put the Pack up by 14-0 late in the first quarter. (Whew! Long sentence. Sorry about that.) Instead, an interception followed and led to the Giants putting a drive together and getting on the board with a field goal to make it 7-3 early in the second quarter.

While the Packers seemed to dominate the game, especially in the first half in terms of time of possession, and through the powerful running game of Eddie Lacy, there were just enough misfirings by Rodgers, drops by his receivers, and penalties to always seem to keep the Giants in striking distance. Add to this that the new Packers punter averaged under 36.5 yards per punt for the game with a long of just 42 yards. The result was generally always good starting position for the Giants, often past their own 40. Special teams coverage by the Packers also didn't help; there were a number of broken tackles by Giants returners which added to their field position advantage.

Be all that as it may, the Pack came away with the win they needed. With Minnesota atop the NFC North -- and the only still undefeated team in the NFL -- the Packers can't afford to drop behind by losing games they should win.

Which brings us to Sunday's game at Lambeau versus the Cowboys. Is that a game the Pack should win? Needs to win? (OK, dumb question that. Never mind.)

The 'boys are playing well behind their rookie quarterback and running back. We'll look at this game as we get closer to game time. Please keep checking back. We appreciate it.