Gregor’s Packer Analysis
Week 14 Recap
In this issue:
The Vikings hold off the Bears
The Packers storm back in the snow
The Vikings took a 14-0 lead and held off the Chicago Bears 21-14 Sunday in Minnesota. Jay Cutler was sacked twice and hurried and knocked down most of the afternoon before being knocked out of the game in the 4th quarter with a neck injury. He did finish the series before leaving. And he wasn’t whining. He had drops by, among others, Devin Hester (a potential touchdown pass in the 4th quarter), Alshon Jeffery, and Brandon Marshall. He didn’t yell at them. He was getting knocked around by Jared Allen and the Minnesota defense. He didn’t yell at his linemen. He kept his head in the game, he tried to make plays. He’s always good when things are going well. He doesn’t usually handle adversity this well. His numbers weren’t that impressive, 22 of 44 for 260, a touchdown and 2 picks. His effort was. That is, assuming he wasn’t yelling and whining—he might have been and they just didn’t show it on TV. If he kept his focus, the Packers won’t have it easy in Week 15.
On the other side, Adrian Peterson was essentially the Minnesota offense, scoring two touchdowns (the other was a pick 6 by Harrison Smith) and gaining 154 yards on 31 carries, and adding 16 receiving yards. The biggest concern has to be a passing game that generated 77 net yards. When the defense doesn’t have to worry at all about the Vikings throwing the ball, most teams will be able to slow Peterson enough to make it difficult for the Vikings to score. 154 yards is good, but 248 net yards doesn’t translate to many points offensively. And they can’t rely on defensive or special teams touchdowns every week.
OK, be honest. How many of us knew who DuJaun Harris was before Sunday Night? And of those who did, how many expected him to get the first carry of the game for Green Bay, and 7 carries for 31 yards on the night? But it was Harris, newly signed Ryan Grant, returning defensive back Sam Shields, and backup defensive tackle Mike Daniels who helped the Packers overcome a 14-0 first half deficit en route to a 27-20 win over the Detroit Lions. Of course, more familiar names like Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb and Alex Green had their moments as well. And while Tramon Williams gave up a few catches to Calvin Johnson, he more than held his own.
With CJ Wilson and Mike Neal out, the Packers had Ryan Pickett and BJ Raji in the middle of the line, and outside linebackers Erik Walden, Frank Zombo or Dezman Moses lining up as defensive ends. Early in the game, the Lions were running all over the Packers. Detroit scored on a 12 play 80 yard drive in the first quarter and an 11 play 79 yard drive in the second quarter. But after a slow start for the offense, Mason Crosby hit a 49 yard field goal (he did miss a 52 yarder), and Mike Daniels scooped up a fumble and scored to make it 14-10 at the half. In the second half Rodgers ran it in from 27 yards out, Harris had a 14 yard score, and Crosby hit a 41 yarder. The Lions could only counter with 2 Jason Hanson field goals.
The Packers got Shields back and he got a lot of playing time. Next week, it’s likely that Charles Woodson, TJ Lang and Clay Matthews will be back. Earlier, it looked like the Packers could go into Chicago and win easily to take the NFC North. That still could happen, but the way Cutler battled, it might not be as easy as first thought.