There is no “d” in unbeaten, but there are a couple of them in “defending” and if the Pack wants to defend its world title in Indy next February, the defense is going to have to markedly improve.
If not for the ridiculously high level that Aaron Rodgers is playing at, the Pack would be in the midst of an NFC scrum with a handful of other teams. But once again Rodgers delivered a virtuoso performance, with four TD passes, no picks and another near perfect passer rating.
The defense got off to another show start on the road, allowing a quick touchdown on the Chargers’ opening drive. But they stepped up big time with a pair of pick sixes, one on a great hit by Desmond Bishop, allowing Charlie Peprah to take one to the house, the other on a great read by Tramon Williams.
The offense took over late in the half and in the third quarter. When the Pack upped its lead to 21, 45-24 early in the fourth quarter, Wayne Larrivee delivered his “dagger.” But Rivers wasn’t done. Despite a depleted offense with just two weapons, Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates, the Chargers made plays on the soft Packers defense. Jackson scored twice and ultimately Rivers had the ball with a chance to force overtime. His third pick of the day sealed the win, but the numbers don’t lie.
The defense surrendered 28 first downs and 460 yards against an offense they called the best they faced since the Saints on opening night. The truth is, it’s tough to win in San Diego. The Chargers came into the game winners of 17 of their past 21 at home. But what is most concerning about the state of the Packers defense is the lack of a pass rush. Rivers came into the game having been sacked 17 times. Green Bay got him twice, but too often he had far too long to wait for Jackson or Gates to get open.
After the game Rodgers mentioned that Rivers had to go to a silent count on their final drive to quell the noise by the tens of thousands of Packer fans. That’s the ultimate statement about Packer nation–that crowd played their part in making things difficult for the Bolts. Jermichael Finley called it Lambeau West.
So the Pack heads home for two games sporting an 8-0 record, becoming just the third Super Bowl champ to win their first eight games (joining the ’90 49ers and ’98 Broncos). Is there room for improvement? Absolutely–the defense has not come close to hitting its stride. But Rodgers and the offense are playing at a historically high level. Opponents know they’re going to need to put up 30 points to be in the game.
Christian Ponder, are you ready for some football?