The Green Bay Packers improved their record to 9-3 after a win over the New York Giants on a snowy Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
One of the biggest storylines coming into this game was the offense. After a poor showing against the 49ers, it was imperative that they get back on track. New York has struggled all year on defense, so the Packers knew they had a golden opportunity to strike and put up points.
The offense didn’t disappoint. They finished the game with 322 total yards; 79 yards on the ground and 243 through the air. The offensive line was one of the key components to the Packers passing attack. After the injury that Bulaga sustained in the Week 12 loss, he bounced back and had a nice showing at right tackle. On the other side of the line, David Bakhtiari had a decent game as he was able to lock down the Giants rushers all afternoon. The Giants didn’t test the Packers much with their blitz game, opting instead to try to pressure Rodgers with 4 rushers. As a result, the Packers didn’t have to run as much max protection which allowed numerous receivers with each passing play.
On the ground, Jamaal Williams had the best rushing performance of the day. He finished the day with 41 yards off of 10 carries. It seemed on almost every play that he was running with a purpose. He really ran behind his pads and got the 3-4 yards necessary on each play. Nothing too flashy, but it didn’t have to be. He showed fans why he is a valuable part of the 1-2 punch with Aaron Jones.
Speaking of Jones, he ended the day with only 18 yards on 11 carries. Not the performance that I thought he would have, but Jones didn’t have to rush for an insurmountable amount of yards in this game. The threat of the passing game relieved some of the pressure on Jones, which is sometimes needed in games like this.
Aaron Rodgers had a solid performance throughout most of the game. His 4 touchdown performance helped elevate the offense, which was where all the scoring plays came from. Rodgers was able to find Lazard on 3 plays which gave Lazard 103 yards receiving as well as a touchdown. It was refreshing to see him reel in big catches from Rodgers. Lazard, for the most part, has been quiet in recent weeks.
Defensively, Blake Martinez really took a step forward in this game. I didn’t notice him getting sealed off by a tackle, guard or tight end much. He played downhill and had a nose for the football. Martinez has really stepped his game up these past few weeks. I was leery about how he would do this season, but it feels like he is starting to get a feel for Mike Pettine’s scheme. Martinez was the leading tackler for the Packers in this game, as he finished with 10.
Dean Lowry quietly had a nice game. I noticed several plays where he would squeeze down his gap and meet the back at the line of scrimmage. The interior defensive line as a whole did a solid job throughout the game.
The biggest improvement that we saw this week was the special teams. JK Scott was back to his old ways, as he had an average punt of 46.7 yards, with 2 punts going inside of the 20. The punt team is so often overlooked. It makes a world of difference for the defense as far as how much field they have to defend. The kickoff return team was another key element of this game. Smith fielded 3 kicks with an average return of 24 yards, with a long of 33. It may not look like much on the stat sheet, but it is definitely an improvement for this unit.
I stated in my “keys to victory” column earlier this week that the Packers secondary could not afford to have any busted plays in the secondary. While the Giants were able to bust a few, I felt pretty confident by the defensive back play. The secondary was responsible for 3 takeaways, which came from Williams, Savage, and King. When playing off coverage, they were able to rally to the football and prevent the receiver from busting a big play.
The biggest (and most important) takeaway from this game was that the Packers were able to come away with the win. It doesn’t matter how; they just need to continue to find ways to go 1-0 each week. The road ahead looks very manageable for the Packers. They’ll look to continue their winning ways as the Redskins come to town for a showdown at Lambeau.
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