The Packers checked most of the boxes in their 31-13 win over the Giants. Aaron Rodgers looked like Aaron Rodgers again. They converted more than 50% of their third down opportunities and were 3-3 in the red zone. The defense took the ball away multiple times.
The only thing they weren’t able to do was run the football, amassing just 79 yards on three yards per carry and Aaron Jones was a non-factor, with 11 carries for just 18 yards. It was obvious that New York’s defensive game plan was to take Jones out of the game and make Rodgers and the passing game beat them.
But otherwise, the Pack rebounded the way they needed to do, on a snowy, sloppy afternoon at MetLife Stadium. There were a few sticky moments, like when the Packers’ 17-7 lead was cut to just six heading into the fourth quarter. But a 14 play 75 yard drive put the game out of reach–the drive highlighted by a fourth and ten completion to Geronimo Allison.
For the most part, Rodgers was sharp and decisive, though a number of his passes were off target. He was helped by Allen Lazard’s brilliant diving 43-yard catch on the team’s first drive. Lazard has stamped himself as the team’s #2 receiver and has earned Rodgers’ trust and more snaps down the stretch. The tight ends continue to be a non-factor in the offense and the running backs found little daylight in the passing game, catching eight passes for a total of 39 yards. But the lack of a running game is a concern and needs to get better–they’ll have a chance on Sunday against a Washington team that struggles against the run.
For the most part, the defense bottled up Saquon Barkley, who finished with 83 yards on the ground, but 18 of those came at the end of the first half, when the Pack was happy to let him run, rather than let the Giants try to throw downfield to set up a field goal attempt.
It wasn’t a virtuoso performance by any means, but the Packers took care of business against a bad team in challenging conditions and came out of the game healthy. The fact that Bryan Bulaga started and finished was great to see. The Pack won the turnover battle 3-0, was perfect in the red zone and special teams had a good day. Punter JK Scott’s three punts averaged 47 yards and Mason Crosby had a perfect day, after dealing with the tragic loss of his sister-in-law on Friday.
As I said on “Packer Preview” on Sunday, we probably wouldn’t learn a lot about the Packers over these next two weeks against the have-nots from the NFC East. They just need to get these two wins, stay healthy and make sure they’re ready for the key final three weeks against NFC North teams. Next up are the Redskins, who shocked the Panthers in Carolina on Sunday and come in riding a two-game winning streak. If nothing else, that should get Green Bay’s attention and assure that the team doesn’t take them lightly.