If the Packers’ second half meltdown in Indy represented the worst loss of the McCarthy era, the last two weeks have served notice that the team has answered its wake-up call and is ready to head home feeling good about themselves.
This one belonged to Aaron Rodgers, who put just 10 points on the board in the first half, but you felt like there were more points to be had in the second half. Indeed there were. Rodgers fired two more touchdown passes in the second half, both to Randall Cobb, who had his best game as a pro. He caught eight for 89 yards (along with a 19 yard run) and caught a number of third down conversions. And for the second straight week, Jordy Nelson delivered as the go-to guys, with eight for 122 and the game’s first touchdown.
Rodgers threw 37 times and had just seven incompletions, one of them a spiked ball at the end of the first half. After dealing with protection issues early, both from the outside rushers and good looking rokie DT Michael Brockers, the Pack rebounded nicely in the second half, giving Rodgers time to get comfortable and display virtually all the throws in his arsenal.
Defensively, they didn’t do nearly as good a job against the run as they did last week. It kept the Rams in the game into the second half: the two headed monster of Jackson and Richardson showed its toughness. They combined for 93 yards on 19 carries: virtually all of it in the first half. When the Pack’s offense clicked into gear they owned time of possession in the second half and forced Bradford into catchup mode. Outside of one long pass play, the screen to speedster Chris Givens, the pass defense completely dominated Bradford and his young receivers.
Playing without four defensive starters, the unit got strong play from the fill-ins. Erik Walden had nine tackles, getting most the snaps with Nick Perry out. He had two QB hits and a tackle for loss. Rookie Casey Hayward got the start for Sam Shields and played a great time, reeling in his fourth pick of the season and showing that he belongs. It was also good to see Davon House out there making plays. If his shoulder allows it, he could be another nice dimension in the secondary–he had won the starting job in camp before his injury.
So, feeling much better about the squad as they head home for games against the Jaguars and Cardinals. Hopefully the team escaped any major injuries in St. Louis. Mike Neal left the game early, so we’ll monitor that.
They’ve come a long way in two weeks. Maybe all the way back to who we thought they were coming into the season.