On a day when Clark Kent couldn’t find his way to the phone booth, the Packers defense rose up once again and dominated an average offense, leading the team to its second 5-0 start in the last 50 years.
All good streaks must come to an end and Aaron Rodgers’ ridiculous streak of passes without a pick ended on a deflected pass and the new streak lasted just a few passes, as Rodgers’ got baited into his second pick of the day. A third turnover by Rodgers came via the fumble. Three Rodgers turnovers in one day. Couple that with a running attack that could not get untracked and the recipe was there for a potential loss at Lambeau.
But the defense stood tall once again, picking off Nick Foles four times, sacking him three times and holding him to a QB rating of 23. Clay Matthews led the way with another brilliant game, his sack plant of Foles will be a highlight we’ll see over and over. He finished with 1.5 sacks and four QB hits. Right behind him were Julius Peppers and Datone Jones with three QB hits each. Jones is coming into his own, finally, adding a blocked field goal to his solid game.
Even the run defense was solid, though the final numbers may say otherwise. The Rams fed their precocious rookie Todd Gurley early and often and the Pack held him in check most of the day. Take away the 55 yard fourth quarter run, and Gurley had 29 carries for 104 yards. Once again Mike Daniels led the way, with eight tackles and setting the tone up front. BJ Raji left the game with the groin injury–we’ll wait and see the prognosis.
Injuries to TJ Lang and Casey Hayward also have me sweating a little–hopefully, neither will be out long-term. With one game before the bye, they will have time to heal before the schedule toughens in November. We’ll also hear how Bryan Bulaga’s knee held up. He had a big brace on it, but seemed to hold up. The injury to Chris Long lightened his load just a bit.
Some fans will be gnashing their teeth over the offense’s struggles. It was not Rodgers’ best game, but he found James Jones on a 65 yard touchdown and was able to extend drives with his legs and his arm. But we don’t need to see any more games where he is the team’s leading rusher. When the ground game is stalled, against a defense like that one, the offense will have a hard time sustaining drives.
There is work to be done and room for improvement, but the Packers demonstrated once again on this day that their defense will make it difficult for opposing offenses on most days. This feels like the deepest, most talented unit we’ve seen in years.
The way they’re creating mayhem week after week means that even when Clark Kent can’t find his phone booth, he has enough friends around him to keep Metropolis on top.