.500 never felt so good. With an opportunity to make a statement on the road against an unbeaten team, the Pack did just that behind the golden arm of Aaron Rodgers and a stout run defense that completely bottled up Arian Foster and the Texans offense. The Pack played like a team that had chip on its shoulder and was playing with urgency. The result: 42-24.
When asked by Michelle Tafoya what he had to say to his critics, who were wondering what was wrong with him and the offense, Rodgers said, “Shhhhh.”
Suddenly all seems right with the world. There were heroes and good signs all over the board. Let’s start with the offense, which started out hot and stayed that way. Rodgers and Nelson found a rhythm early, and with the offensive line doing its job, Rodgers had time to find Nelson, Cobb, Jones and Finley all night long. It was made possible by a strong night running the football by Alex Green. He only averaged three yards per carry, but he got 22 carries and that was huge.
This was a game for Rodgers to let his performance do the talking, after answering questions day after day from folks wondering what was wrong with the Packers’ offense. Six touchdowns later against the mighty Texans defense was his exclamation point. Clearly they’re not the same without linebacker Brian Cushing, but the Pack’s defense was even more short-handed.
Ultimately it’s that side of the ball that had to make you feel really good. Holding Arian Foster to 1.7 yards per carry on 17 carries, without BJ Raji, was a thing of beauty. Pickett played very well in Raji’s spot, and youngsters like Worthy and Neal stepped up big. When Nick Perry and DJ Smith went down with injuries the depth was tested. But the defense didn’t miss a beat. When Sam Shields got kicked in the shin, rookie Casey Hayward came in and got two late picks–on very acrobatic plays. I’d like to see more of him, hopefully not at the expense of a Shields injury though.
They cleaned up the penalties–had no pre-snap problems in a loud environment–and forced some turnovers. Two elements that needed to change after what we witnessed last week. We saw precisely what we needed to see in Houston: a dominant ‘don’t forget about us’ game that brought some sanity back to the world. They’ll be favored to win the next three games before the bye against teams that will have a hard time keeping up on the scoreboard.
It’s been an often frustrating first six weeks to the NFL season. But for one night we were reminded what this team can do. When Rodgers and company are playing at that level, there’s no team they should fear.