Sometimes a 10-point victory feels as satisfying as take out Chinese food. A couple hours later and you’re hungry for more. On a rainy afternoon in Oakland, the Pack jumped out to a 14 point lead, watched it evaporate and then took control late for a 30-20 win, but it left us with plenty of questions.
What happened to Lacy? His yo-yo season went the other way as he mustered just 23 yards on 11 carries, looking tentative, slow and kind of out of it. Granted, the Raiders are above average defensively against the run, but the lack of running room was alarming.
Why does the offense continue to struggle on third and short situations? It’s been a season-long problem and is likely to doom the team in the playoffs. Too many drives are stopped prematurely because the team can’t get a yard when it needs it.
How is David Bakhtiari’s ankle? He was carted off late in the game and we’ll hold our breath until we hear the prognosis. Don Barclay waits in the wings. Shudder.
Where was Clay? 21 defensive and special teams players made an appearance on the stat sheet. Matthews was not among them. He needs to make more of an impact as these games get more important. Flip side: Julius Peppers was fantastic, with 2 1/2 sacks and two tackles for loss.
There was a point in the second quarter when the Packers had more points (14) than net yards (12). The unit didn’t really get cooking until the team fell behind and Jeff Janis set them up with a big return. A Jared Abbrederis catch and two James Jones catches later, the Pack had the lead for good.
They followed up that drive with their longest drive of the season, 92 yards on 19 plays. It ended on a disappointing note, with a field goal, and featured three carries by Randall Cobb, who McCarthy obviously figured was his best option–with Lacy ineffective and Starks having coughed up the ball. But you’ve got to finish those kind of drives in the end zone, especially as the competition gets stiffer.
Defensively, the Pack struggled with rookie phenom Amari Cooper, particularly in the first half. Damarius Randall couldn’t keep up with him. Dom Capers switched up his coverage in the second half and the team had much more success against him after intermission.
It was a road win against an up and coming team, but hardly an impressive one. They will need to be sharper going forward if they have any hopes of making a playoff run. Getting Shields back will help, as would a quick return by Bakhtiari. They need to cut down on penalties, get much more efficient on third downs and try to get the running game back on track.
The Pack is 10-4 and in the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season. A road test in Arizona is next, an opponent that will give us a good idea of where this team stands against the NFC’s elite. They’ll need to be better than they were in Oakland. Now, pass the fried rice.