Packers XLV

Pack Leaps to Division Lead, Led by Lacy's Legs

Posted November 24th, 2014 @ 01:11am

Say what you want about the 2014 Packers, they are able to assume different identities depending on the situation facing them. In the two 50-point explosions, the passing game was on fire, as the Bears and Eagles defenses basically dared Aaron Rodgers to throw the ball.

We figured the Vikings would play a lot of cover 2, to try to force the Pack to run, or dink and dunk and earn their yards and shorten the game. Once again, like in the first matchup, the Packers were happy to morph into a running team, as Eddie Lacy led the offense with his second 100 yard rushing day of the season--both coming against the Vikes, finishing with a season high 125 on the ground on 25 carries.

Is there anything more satisfying than running out the clock on the road by pounding the ball down your opponents' throats? When the Pack took over at their own 20 with 3:23 to play and their lead cut to three, everyone in the house knew the Pack would ride Lacy and try to run out the clock. And the Vikings were powerless to do anything about it. Props to injured guards TJ Lang and Josh Sitton, who helped trigger the running game all afternoon.

Was it pretty? No. Was the Pack perfect? Hardly. But that's to be expected in a game like this. I thought it would be a one possession game late and it was, but it was a little closer than I (and virtually everybody not named Paul Allen) expected. The Pack committed eight penalties, which is not like them. But they won the turnover battle (1-0, the Pack is now +34 in turnover differential in 53 division games under McCarthy) and held Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikes to 38% on third downs.

The rookie QB saved the defense on a number of occasions, missing some throws that could have been big gainers. There's a lot to like about his game. He seems to have the poise in the pocket of Russell Wilson and the ability to extend plays and make the right decisions. But he was dreadful for the most part on throws that went 20 yards downfield--he needs to improve in that department. The team could use some receivers that can get some separation--that would help him too.

It wasn't a great day for the Packers defense but they made just enough plays to get the job done. They'll need to be a lot sharper next Sunday when Tom Brady and the high flying Patriots come to Lambeau for a Thanksgiving weekend classic. Weather permitting, it has the looks of an 80-point pinball affair.

They're not all going to be pretty. But with cold weather in store in four of the next five games and beyond, I like having Eddie Lacy in the backfield bouncing off defenders. 70 of his 125 yards came after first contact--a season high. That kind of production will keep opposing defenses honest and Rodgers will become even more dangerous.

At 8-3, the Pack has vaulted to the #2 spot in the NFC and have their eye on the top spot. The Cardinals fell to 9-2 in Seattle and still have road games to play in Atlanta, St. Louis and San Francisco and home games with the Chiefs and Seahawks--a tough slate.

The Packers have an easier road; but next Sunday's test, which will assuredly be billed as a possible Super Bowl preview, will provide the Pack with a chance to stake their claim that they're the NFL's top dog as the calendar turns to December.

Rodgers vs. Brady. Is it Sunday yet?

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Comments (8):

OSSG, look at it this way...it was more of a preemptive strike on our whiny purple faithful friends who would otherwise accuse us of being nothing more than homers, when in fact we can be equally critical of both the Packers and Vikings when called upon. That being said, the final drive in the last 3:30 was a thing of beauty, wasn't it? Vikings were expecting run, and they got it shoved down their collective throats. There's nothing better than administering your will upon the opponent. OSSG, you thought I was going soft on you? Not a chance, buddy!! :-)

on November 24th, 2014 at 01:12pm

it was a nice win, they ran well and threw to the backs like I though 12 would. vikings d is better then most think. I am worried to beat hell though on those crossing routes on goal line the vikings ran twice in a row, and everyone looked lost, belicheck will run them all game next week if we don't get that fixed, if your in man to man u have to switch or keep with your guy, not just let him go, couldn't believe that. You normally play zone by goal line so you don't need to worry about that. also 52 looked gimpy to me, no explosion. that worries me. Like every game if we don't stop the run, we will get killed by Brady. GO Pack.

on November 24th, 2014 at 01:37pm

I was at the game yesterday (and on the sidelines until NFL security told me my pre-game pass was no good for hanging around) and it had that "feel" of just a day at the office for Rodgers and Co. - doing what needed to be done to get the win. I agree with Davey that the Vikes worked hard at taking away Jordy and Randall and it was great to see the running game respond. SO happy with the work of Sitton, Lang, et al. They are the key to this final third of the season and the playoff run. I'm hoping they'll be hitting on all cylinders on Sunday and we have that "statement win" against the Pats. Still waiting to see Cobb or Adams run that jet sweep play that could be a difference maker down the stretch. GO PACK!

on November 24th, 2014 at 06:59am

No apologies for a division road victory against your rival. Pack was not going to put up 50 again. I thought the spread was out of line, 3.5-5 would have been more likely. Would have liked the defense to play a little better and expect them to at home against the Pats. Sorry on the loss of your father HC, will listen Sunday morning for your take on the big game. Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Packers fans and GO PACK !!!!

on November 24th, 2014 at 07:05am

Hey, that was a good game. It didn't feel like Peppers did much. I would say their tight ends exposed Hawk some and we haven't figured out how to deal with the shallow cross out of the bunch yet. They'll need to put an emphasis on that because the Pat can certainly do that well. A quality win over an improving team. GO PACK!

on November 24th, 2014 at 09:06am

This is an open letter to all the Vikings fans that come through this blog. In other words, being completely honest, here’s what I’d do to fix the Vikings going forward (and yes, Cane, feel free to weigh in on this if you like). Yes, the Vikings have their share of problems, but they don’t appear to be as big as would initially appear on the surface. For starters, the cluster of 1st round draft choices has not been exactly stellar recently. Out of the 7 over the last 3 drafts, I’d say the only ones that appear to have worked out well are Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith. The improvement on defense with them on board is significant. Xavier Rhodes so far has been serviceable, but he hasn’t played up to a 1st rounder’s expectations, but he still could work out in the long run – we’ll just have to wait and see. Then that leaves Bridgewater, Floyd, Kahlil, and Patterson. Teddy’s going to be just fine, but not for a while. This season was a lot to ask of a rookie QB, and while the on-the-job training has been invaluable, he’s going to need to take that training into his offseason and build on it. Can Floyd ever stay healthy enough to contribute? And then there are the head cases (for different reasons) that are Kahlil and Patterson. What do you do with these two? For starters, Patterson never should have left Tennessee as soon as he did – the guy’s way too raw and undisciplined. But the biggest disappointment of the bunch has to be Kahlil. A #4 overall pick you just can’t give up on. The big guys are valuable, and although he’s been struggling, you just can’t kick this guy to the curb. So how do the Vikings fix him? At 11 games into the season, I still wouldn’t bench the guy, but I’d seriously consider moving him to RT to help him eventually figure it out. You’ve got this guy on board, and you picked him this high for a reason. Then come next April, look around for some OL depth through either the draft or free agency. Oh, and BTW, nice win for the Pack. Next week should be fun!!

on November 24th, 2014 at 10:13am

First of all..."Voice"... I'm disappointed in you big time. This is a Packer blog not a Viking Report Card and status update. You give thoughtfull and insighfull comments on the Packers (most of the time ) but leave the Viking analysis to the crybabies to our West. As to the Pack...LynnDickeyfan Hawk was not exposed for the first time to tight ends and other receivers ....he has been this for the last three years. If you saw his stats into the Viking game....he two....count them two pass breakups all year. I'm sure Brady and Bellichek are licking their chops and will expose him even more. The Vikes played us tough ...afterall this is their Super Bowl. Despite all the obvious observations on this game...Rodgers, Lacy, the 'O" line et al here is an additional observation on my part. Ibelieve if you watch especially our run game we have the best blocking receivers in the game. Most receivers...especially the wideouts do not block...but watch our guys Nelson, Cobb, and even Adams will stick their blocks physically when Lacy et all get to the second level. Must be well coached and want to stick their noses in and be physical. Wow: Brady vs. Rodgers at Lambeau !! GO PACK GO !!

on November 24th, 2014 at 12:21pm

I'll take the win and moving in to first place in the division but am nevertheless disappointed the Pack wasn't crisper and cleaner with it than they were. Good teams do play down to an opponent. I regard this one charitably as 60% Packers playing down and 40% Vikings' effort. I was especially disappointed that their receivers were getting open to the degree they were, as the Green Bay secondary looked like its pre-bye self with blown coverages and communication issues. Fortunately their qb couldn't hit the broadside of a barn on his downfield throws or the Packers might have been torched. The offense had 3 big plays that carried deep into opponent's territory called back by foolish blocking penalties; two on the receivers blocking downfield. That left anywhere from 9-21 more pts. on the field. But good teams play down and get met by a mediocre team pulling out all the stops. New England had a toughie a few weeks ago against the Jets like that. Minnesota gets its moral victory by not getting blown out again and the Packers achieve what really counts. But if they are going to drop off that precipitiously on the road from at Lambeau we may want to hold our Super Bowl talk until we see more and better.

on November 25th, 2014 at 05:49am

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