Gregor’s Packer Analysis
Week 5 Recap
In this issue:
Minnesota gets their first save of the season
Green Bay rallies to beat Atlanta
After blowing 3 double digit leads this season, the Minnesota Vikings didn’t blow this save and held on to beat the Arizona Cardinals 34-10 in the Metrodome. Adrian Peterson had 3 touchdowns in the first quarter and 86 yards at halftime as the Vikings went to the locker room ahead 28-3. While they lost a 20 point lead against the Lions, 25 is apparently the magic number.
Arizona couldn’t stop Minnesota in the first half, as Peterson broke some long touchdown runs, there was a pass interference penalty that kept a first half drive alive, and Donovan McNabb had a touchdown run. The Vikings out-gained the Cardinals 332 to 291, Arizona had a 2 minute advantage in time of possession. But while both teams lost a fumble, Arizona added 3 picks to none for Minnesota, and the Vikings took advantage. The Vikings were outscored again in the second half, but this time it was only 7-6. Minnesota improves to 1-4, Arizona falls to 1-4.
The Bears had 7 first half false start penalties. Matthew Stafford missed open receivers on consecutive plays, so instead of throwing for big gains or a TD, the Lions punted. Meanwhile, Cutler was 8 of 11 in the first half for 99 yards. The Bears dominated in rushing yards (87 to 20) and time of possession (21 minutes to 9) in the first half.
The Bears went 3 and out to start the second half. The Lions have been a second half team, coming back from 20 down to the Vikings and 24 down to the Cowboys to win. They were down 10-7, until Stafford found Brandon Pettigrew for a TD with 9:55 left in the 3rd quarter. Devin Hester fielded a kickoff on the run and ran out of bounds at the Chicago 6. First down was nearly a safety, but second down was a nice run by Forte out to the Bears 23. The Bears pinned the Lions deep with a punt, but Jahvid Best took the handoff and went 89 yards for a TD to put the Bears up 21-10. The Bears punted right back, and the ball went off a blocker, but the Bears couldn’t recover in-bounds. The Lions had a 4th down on the Bears 38 and decided to punt, which went just 14 yards.
The penalties continued in the second half. After 8 penalties for 50 yards in the first half (7 false starts, 1 personal foul), the Bears self destructed in the 4th quarter. They actually saved some yardage with some penalties unable to be fully enforced due to half the distance to the goal.
Give Jay Cutler credit. He was getting hit all game, and kept playing hard. If his O line could do anything at all, the Bears might have had a chance. Most passes didn’t go the way they were drawn up—Cutler was either scrambling or throwing on his way down. But he wasn’t whining and he gave his receivers a chance. He made plays when it looked like he’d get sacked, although that happened
It wasn’t pretty as the Packers allowed 4 sacks, lost Chad Clifton to a hamstring injury, had 3 drops by Jermichael Finley alone, and couldn’t stop Atlanta on their first two possessions. But eventually enough things went right for Green Bay to beat the Falcons 25-14 in Atlanta.
The Packers struggled in the first half, allowing the Falcons to score on their first possession. Then ,Ryan Grant fumbled and the Falcons were able to push it to 14-0. Chad Clifton was hurt in the second quarter (hamstring), and the confidence in the offensive line was shaky at best since Bryan Bulaga didn’t play. Yet the Packers had a chance to score before the half, but Jermichael Finley dropped the pass at the goal line stalled another red zone drive and had to settle for Mason Crosby’s second field goal of the half to make it 14-6 at halftime. Rodgers was 12 of 16 for 127 yards in the first half.
The second half started better, with a 56 yard Mason Crosby field goal, then a TD pass to James Jones to make it 15-14. The Packers tried for two, and the pass to Finley was incomplete but could have been caught. A three and out by Atlanta led to a punt. The Packers wanted an interference call when Randall Cobb signaled late for a fair catch and was hit. Instead it was a sideline violation after a few warnings and a penalty on the Packers. Finley had a big gain on third down to move the chains to the Atlanta 46. Then Randall Cobb kept the drive alive with a third down catch. The first play of the 4th quarter was a 29 yard TD pass to Greg Jennings, who weaved through traffic and dove into the end zone. The extra point made it 22-14. Rodgers had time even with two backup tackles.
A third down catch by Atlanta was challenged by Mike McCarthy and over-turned, giving Green Bay the ball back after the 4th down punt. The Packers couldn’t run, but Rodgers was still moving the ball through the air. After one first down, the Packers couldn’t convert third and 11 with just over 11 minutes left in the 4th quarter as Finley dropped another pass. The Falcons took over at their own 16, and after a short run, A.J. Hawk was flagged for a personal foul. Tony Gonzalez had a 22 yard gain to the Green Bay 41. Michael Turner got the ball inside the 30, but Desmond Bishop came in up the middle for a sack. On the next play, the ball was deflected and intercepted by Charlie Peprah.
The third and two pass went to Finley for a 22 yard gain to the Atlanta 46. James Jones broke a tackle and took it down to the 24, and the next snap came with under 4 minutes left. The Packers tried running the clock down with runs on first and second down, and Atlanta took their second time out with 3:02 left and the ball within field goal range on the Falcons’ 17 yard line. On third and three, Starks got to the 12 yard line and moved the chains. Atlanta took their last time out with 2:09 left. The 2:00 warning came on third and 13, and the Packers had Starks run between the tackles, then ran the clock down to 1:14 before taking a time out. Mason Crosby came on and hit a 30 yard field goal to put Green Bay up 25-14.
Matt Ryan tried to move the ball down the field, but his third down pass went through the hands of Roddy White, intercepted by Jarrett Bush. The Pack took a knee and went to 5-0 after scoring 25 unanswered points. Twelve different receivers caught passes for the Packers, and over half the game was played with 2 backup tackles. There were 4 sacks, there were drops, and still the Falcons couldn’t stop Rodgers. For the game, he was 26 of 39 for 396 yards, 2 TDs and no picks. Ryan was 18 of 32 for just 167 yards, 1 TD and2 interceptions. Total offense was owned by the Packers, 426 yards to just 251 yards for the Falcons. Michael Turner was held to 56 yards rushing on 16 carries. The Packers had a 6 minute edge in time of possession after not having it for much of the first quarter.
Green Bay used a 4 man defensive line at times with BJ Raji and Jarius Wynn at tackle, and linebackers Clay Matthews and Erik Walden at end. Dom Capers’ defense gave up big yards to New Orleans and Carolina, not as many to Chicago, and shut down Denver last week, and now Atlanta. The concern coming out is the offensive line, especially if Bryan Bulaga can’t play next week, because Chad Clifton is probably out months, maybe the season.