Cobb Stars as Pack Hits Bye on 4-Game Win StreakPosted:Nov 4th, 2012 10:36 pm
It's a good thing the Packers have next week off. They might be hard-pressed to field a complete team. After another game that saw three important starters leave with injuries (Bulaga, Nelson and Matthews), the Pack had enough left to dispatch of the physical Cardinals to move to 6-3 at the bye.
Once again, a 24-7 lead in the second half had us breathing easy, but ten unanswered points brought the Cardinals within seven. It didn't take Rodgers and the offense long to provide more breathing room. The 72 yard TD on a seam route by Tom Crabtree boosted the lead to 14 and the game was finally in hand.
The Pack took control early with a productive running attack, with over 100 yards on the ground in the game's first 2o minutes. Early on, it was Rodgers making plays with his feet, but both Alex Green and James Starks had solid games.
The running game offset a passing attack that never really found a rhythm. After the game, Rodgers was critical of his performance, despite throwing four TD passes. He finished an uncharacteristic 14-30 (including a handful of drops), missing a number of throws that he usually makes.
The offensive hero was Randall Cobb, with 191 all purpose yards and two touchdown grabs. He injured his shoulder on a brutal hit on a punt return and played through it the rest of the way. He's such a great weapon in the return game, but he is becoming too valuable as an offensive player to be a returner. I'm not sure who the team could turn to, but Cobb is becoming a stat before our eyes.
Defensively, the Pack gave up another 300 yard day to a mediocre QB, but a lot of it came late when the game was in hand. They bottled up the run game and only let Larry Fitzgerald beat them deep once.
The concerns coming out of this game begin with the injuries. I was surprised to see Jordy Nelson out there as a starter, believing they would rest him and his tight hamstring through the bye. When Nelson came up lame on an awkward catch near the goal line, many of our fears were realized. Often when a player is coming off one injury he's susceptible to another. The ankle injury does not look good; let's hope a couple weeks of rest is all he needs.
Bryan Bulaga was the next to come up lame with what was called a hip injury and was carted off. TJ Lang did a nice job moving over to man the RT spot. But an extended loss for Bulaga will weaken the line and be something to watch. The Clay Matthews hamstring injury is the last thing this defense needs. He just missed a sack on his final play of the day and immediately headed to the locker room. This has been a chronic issue for him and we'll wait and see how significant this injury is.
But the Pack fought through these losses and dispatched of the Cards. Maybe the play of the game was Rodgers covering a James Starks fumble. On a day when he wasn't razor sharp, he made a number of hustle plays that made a difference.
After a painfully slow start, the Packers have won four straight and are back in the NFC mix. The players will get a full week off before they return, hopefully refreshed and healthy to begin the second half with a big divisional road game in Motown.