Pack's 19th Straight Win is a Costly OnePosted:Dec 12th, 2011 5:43 am
The Packers delivered a virtuoso performance over the overmatched Raiders on Sunday, delivering a 46-16 beatdown that ensured the team a bye week in the playoffs. The team's 19th straight win is now the second longest winning in NFL history.
The defense was dominant, Ryan Grant channeled 2007 and Rodgers was his usual brilliant self. Yes, by all accounts we should all be happy and excited by the level of excellence we are witnessing week after week this season. But if you're like me, you feel a little hollow, knowing that the Pack's best receiver might be done for the season.
We should know more on Monday about the severity of the injury to Greg Jennings' left knee. Early reports suggest a torn MCL, which is usually a 3-6 week injury and could have him back for the team's divisional round playoff game. McCarthy would only call it a knee sprain after the game, but that's what he always says.
The Packers' receiving corps is deep and can absorb the loss. But it will change everything offensively. Jennings draws the opposing defense's top corner and teams often devote a safety to his side, opening things up for guys like Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley. Nelson will likely draw that tight coverage now and the Pack will need to count on James Jones and Randall Cobb and maybe even rookie Torii Gurley, who may be added to the roster, depending on how long Jennings is out.
The injury casts a deep shadow on an otherwise memorable Sunday at Lambeau. As suspected, Carson Palmer was no match for the Pack's defensive playmakers. How about the young linebackers, D. J. Smith and Robert Francois coming up with picks, along with former Raider Charles Woodson? How about the defense containing Michael Bush, holding him to just over three yards per carry? We needed to see this defense rise up in these three games against inept offenses like the Raiders, Chiefs and Bears.
Driver caught four passes to lead the team, with Rodgers spreading the love as usual. Ryan Taylor scored his first touchdown reception on the very first offensive snap he played this season. Finley was shut out, surprising since the Raiders struggle covering tight ends. You can bet he'll be a bigger part of the offense next week.
The bigger picture: the loss by San Francisco means the Packers are one win away from clinching the #1 seed in the NFC. You have to wonder whether the injury to #85 will give McCarthy pause in the final two weeks and have him consider sitting some guys who are not 100%. He has to weigh that against this incredible streak, which could become the all-time longest with a win on January 1st against the Lions.
We have time to chew on that. Let's savor this win for a few hours and then wait to hear about Jennings' prognosis. Then it's time to prepare for a business trip to Kansas City, the Pack's last game away from Lambeau this year, unless they reach the Super Bowl, of course.