The third preseason game is when we often see the starters play almost all of the first half and maybe some of the third quarter. When the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders squared off at Lambeau Field in Green Bay on Friday, it was no exception. A majority of the starters for both sides played for most of the first half, including both starting quarterbacks. In the end and for what it is worth, the Packers defeated the Raiders 31-21.
The Packers came out running on offense to start the game. Aaron Rodgers only threw the ball once on the opening drive, a 32 yard completion to rookie Richard Rodgers, who once again got the start at tight end. The rest of the drive was power football and Eddie Lacy. The second year running back from Alabama carried the ball for six times for 36 yards, ending the drive with a one yard touchdown run. It was Lacy’s only drive of the night. In a move he made all night, head coach Mike McCarthy kept the offensive on the field as Rodgers found Jordy Nelson for the two point conversion.
After Mason Crosby had his kickoff go out of bounds, the Raiders got the ball and found former Packers wide receiver James Jones for a nine yard completion. Jones had a nice return trip to Green Bay, catching four passes for 36 yards. Another former Packer, safety Charles Woodson, had three tackles in his first action against his former team. Later on the drive, new Raiders running back Maurice Jones-Drew shook off an A.J. Hawk tackle to run 40 yards for the touchdown.
After trading punts for a few possessions, Rodgers and the offense went back to work with the opposite philosophy of the first drive. After starting off with a run, the Packers went with five straight passes. On a fourth and three at the Raiders 12 yard line, Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson on a short pass, where Nelson was able to walk in for the touchdown. On the following Packers drive, a mix of no huddle, passing, and the run game helped lead the Packers down the field. On another third down, Rodgers fired a missile to Andrew Quarless for the touchdown. That was the end of Rodgers’ night, as he finished only 9 for 20, but had 139 yards and those two touchdowns.
The Packers defense had a nose for the football, as Nick Perry stripped Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub in Packers territory, and Mike Neal scooped up the fumble and returned it to the Raiders 39 yard line. During the middle of the third quarter, the defense was at it again as Sean Richardson leveled running back Kory Sheets, who fumbled the ball and was recovered by Packers safety Chris Banjo.
In a developing battle for the backup quarterback job, in what I thought was easily Matt Flynn’s job looks like it’s hard to call right now. Flynn’s night started tough, as his second pass was intercepted by rookie Khalil Mack. Flynn was only able to lead one scoring drive, a 41 yard field goal by Mason Crosby. Flynn looked shaky to say the least, finishing four for ten for only 37 yards. The other man in the backup QB race, Scott Tolzien, continued to show why he should be Aaron Rodgers’ backup. Tolzien looked sharp, finishing eight for eleven for 107 yards. Tolzien also threw one touchdown, an impressive one-handed bobbling catch by Alex Gillett near the right sideline.
Like I mentioned earlier, head coach Mike McCarthy did not attempt one extra point all game. I personally like to move because it allows McCarthy to experiment with some different short yardage plays. Even though Aaron Rodgers’ numbers were not the greatest, I was happy with the way the Packers offense played. They showed that they can move down the field by air or ground, a deadly combination for future opponents. After giving up that opening touchdown, the defense settled down and was able to force havoc on the Raiders offense. While there is still room for improvement, I think this Packers team is ready for the Seattle Seahawks in two weeks.