In honor of Halloween the Green Bay Packers decided to do their own rendition of The Walking Dead.
Thanks in part to all of Green Bay’s injuries, the Packers offense looked more like a shambling horde of zombies instead of the well-tuned machine it has been the last couple of weeks. But the Packers did just enough to get the win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Aaron Rodgers struggled on the day; he threw for only 186 yards, even though he completed 22 passes. The injuries to star receivers Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson really impacted the Packers offense. Rodgers didn’t take many shots downfield and instead regulated to throwing shorter routes and screen passes.
The running game also really struggled. The Jaguars were in the bottom of the league when it came to rush defense but they held the Packers to only 66 yards rushing. Alex Green averaged only 2.5 yards per carry and wasn’t a factor at all. It seemed that head coach Mike McCarthy was dead-set on getting the running game going, even though it wasn’t going anywhere. He constantly called running plays on first down and called several on third and short plays.
The defense was the real star of the game. While Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert threw for over 300 yards, he only had one touchdown. The Packers defense did a great job of holding the Jaguars to field goals and thus kept the win for the team.
Green Bay’s defense completely shut down the Jaguars in the third quarter, holding them without a first down and their stop in the fourth quarter on fourth and four with just fewer than three minutes to go secured the win for the Packers. The Packers defense held the Jaguars to only 108 total yards in the second half.
The Packers special teams also added a huge boost to the team when they blocked a Jaguars punt and recovered it for a touchdown early in the second quarter.
At that point in the game it seemed the Packers would cruise to the blowout victory everybody expected. But the Jaguars scored nine points in under a minute; the key score coming from a touchdown after Rodgers fumbled the ball. The touchdown pass from Gabbert was completed to offensive lineman, Guy Whimper.
While neither team scored in the third, it was the Rodgers’ touchdown pass to Donald Driver early in the fourth that put the game away. It was Rodgers’ 153 touchdown with the Packers, putting him past Bart Starr for second on the list in team history, he is now only behind Favre.
It was an ugly win but it was still a victory. The Packers improved to 5-3 and have a three game winning streak. Most importantly, they keep pace with the Bears who won again and pull even with the Vikings who lost Thursday night. From here the Packers take on Arizona at home next week. They will look to get one more victory before their bye week.
Five things we learned from this game
- Mike McCarthy really wants to get a running game going – It was pretty clear this game that McCarthy was not going to stop the running game, even though it wasn’t going anywhere. If the Packers can’t run the ball against one of the worst run defenses than there won’t be much hope for later in the year, but that won’t stop McCarthy.
- The Packers really miss Jennings and Nelson – With their top two receivers out due to injury the Packers passing game looked very different. The Packers didn’t seem to take any shots downfield and instead looked to settle on shorter routes and screen passes. The Packers will need these guys to get healthy soon so that the passing game is back to normal.
- Blaine Gabbert has some guts and skills – Gabbert played this game with a left-shoulder injury and he still wasn’t afraid to throw his body around. Before he threw his one passing touchdown, he attempted a quarterback sneak and led with his hurt shoulder, taking a hit directly on it. Gabbert looked good today and could be a key piece in the Jaguars rebuilding puzzle.
- The Jaguars miss Maurice Jones-Drew more than the Packers miss Cedric Benson – The Packers may not have the best running game, but the loss of Cedric Benson really hurt the Packers. The loss of MJD hurts the Jaguars ten times more. The Jaguars rushed for fewer yards than the Packers today and that is saying a lot. They clearly need him back soon to have any hope of saving their season.
- The Packers defense is slowly improving – While they did give up 300 yards to Blaine Gabbert, they did a good job of keeping the Jaguars out of the endzone, which is what really saved the game for the Packers today. It will still take a while for the Packers defense to be really good, in fact it may never happen, but they are improving.