The Green Bay Packers hosted their first divisional game in three years on a frigid Sunday night at Lambeau Field. Coming into this game I, like many other Packer fans, was extremely nervous. In playoff games, there is no room for error. Teams can’t afford to have busted plays, turnovers or be inefficient on offense.
Thankfully, that wasn’t the case for the Packers in this game.
Green Bay came away with the win and advanced themselves one game closer to the Super Bowl.
As always, I jotted down some notes during the game to share with you. I found myself writing down a ton of things, simply because this game was so exciting. I hardly ever took my eyes off of the screen, only to check an occasional stat or two.
Here are a few of my takeaways shortly following the win over the Seahawks:
- The Packers got their running game started early with some big runs by Aaron Jones. The blocking up front was solid all the way around in the first quarter. Jones looked like he had great vision all game and was able to hit each gap going full speed. The Packers definitely had the advantage up front.
- I liked the call by Matt LaFleur to challenge the early fumble, though the officials said there was “no clear evidence” on the recovery. Bad call, but it didn’t hurt the Packers.
- I have to admit; Za’Darius Smith’s “snubbed” shirt is one of the best things I’ve seen all season.
- The defense played the third down run excellently early in the game. Seattle had zero answers on the ground.
- Jenkins had a block in the back that took away a big play made by Aaron Jones. That was surprising to see. Jenkins has only committed 9 penalties all season. The block was unnecessary, but again, it didn’t kill the Packers drive.
- Aaron Jones scored twice in the second quarter on the ground. One play being a quick-hitting dive and the other an inside zone from the shotgun.
- Kenny Clark had an impressive sack in the second quarter on Russell Wilson. Clark was relentless on the sack. He initially slipped and allowed Wilson to get by him, got up and chased him down from behind. I was relieved to see Clark playing, as it was mentioned this week that he had missed some practice time.
- Rodgers did a great job of using the hard count to draw the Seahawks offsides. That always seems to be his bread and butter. No matter how hard opponents scout it, they still jump offsides.
- All of the Packers timeouts were used up with 9 minutes left in the first half. I don’t care to see that, though I felt like they used them wisely. One timeout was lost due to the challenge in the first quarter.
- Wilson had his way with the Packers defense in the third quarter. The edge rushers seemed to be rushing too far upfield, putting them out of position. I had flashbacks to Clay Matthews against the 49ers in 2012 and 2013. Pettine made a good adjustment later in the quarter where he had them start spying Wilson as opposed to rushing upfield.
- Rodgers had a beautiful touchdown throw to Adams on a fake rollout play. LaFleur stated in his press conference that he liked the look against man coverage. It was a well drawn up play and Adams was able to make a few guys miss on his way to the end zone.
- Jimmy Graham had several big catches throughout the game. One came on a third down in the third quarter, with the other coming on a third down play in the fourth quarter to seal the deal for the win. I can honestly say that I didn’t see that coming whatsoever.
- Preston Smith had a crucial sack in the fourth quarter that forced a punt by the Seahawks. Without that sack, the outcome could have been much different.
- J.K. Scott had 4 punts averaging 4.71 seconds hang time. His worse punt came off of a 25-yard punt.
- Rodgers had another beautiful throw to Adams on another key third down. The offense was really able to convert when it mattered.
The biggest takeaway from this game is that the Packers are on their way to the NFC Championship game. This team has shown so much resiliency and grit this season. They continually find ways to win games and make plays when it counts.
LaFleur stated in his press conference that he’s going to continue to focus going 1-0. That’s the vision for the Packers this week as they head back to the west coast to take on the 49ers with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
Follow me on Twitter: @PTTF_Ben