The Green Bay Packers defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday by the score of 24-15.
In his post game press conference, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy cited the special teams as leading the way in Sunday’s victory over Jacksonville. And while things certainly began that way, the special teams failed to live up to their name as the game wore on.
With Green Bay leading 7-3 early in the game, defensive back Davon House moved away from the Jaguars gunner on the outside of the punt formation to join the linemen for a punt block attempt.
Although the Jacksonville punt team pointed out House’s shift, no one bothered to block him. House sprinted off the left end, fully extended his body into a leap and blocked the Bryan Anger punt.
After the ball bounced off of the Lambeau Field turf, and a couple of players, linebacker Dezman Moses fell on the ball in the end zone to put the Packers up by 11 points.
The second half was a different story for the Packers special teams as the units failed to execute their jobs as smoothly.
In attempting a trick play on a field goal attempt, the team instead turned the ball over on downs.
Facing a 4th-and-6 from the Jacksonville 37-yard line, the Packers opted for a field goal attempt. Prior to the snap, kicker Mason Crosby vacated the backfield and other Packers players ran into alternate positions as the team left the Jaguars to wonder whether the lone player remaining in the backfield, Tim Masthay, would punt or attempt a pass.
Masthay took the snap, moved to his left and attempted a long pass back across the field to tight end D.J. Williams. The pass was well short and the Packers’ trickery failed.
The Jaguars could not convert the turnover into points, however, and on the next series, the Packers defense forced Jacksonville into a three-and-out before the offense put together an 11-play drive that started from their own 20. Stalled at the Jacksonville 14-yard line, Mike McCarthy elected for a field goal.
Mason Crosby’s 32-yard attempt began straight but sliced badly to the right before hitting the upright and bouncing to the ground. After the game, McCarthy cited the wind as a possible explanation for the miss, but regardless of the circumstances, the failed kick marked Crosby’s first miss from inside 50-yards this season.
The Running Game
To his credit, Mike McCarthy never abandoned the run, but the team’s execution on running plays remained a concern.
Starting running back Alex Green finished the day with 22 carries for 54 yards, averaging a paltry 2.5 yards per carry.
Prior to the game, ESPN’s Adam Schefter started up the rumor mill with a story of the Packers’ interest in Rams’ running back Steven Jackson.
While an in-season trade would be out of character for Packers general manager Ted Thompson, something needs to change if the Packers hope to successfully run the football.
The Packers list of players who did not suit up for the game read more like an all star roster than it did an inactive list. Without Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Charles Woodson and others, the Packers’ “Next Man Up” philosophy was tested.
The first half was injury free, but in the second, the injury bug hit two Green Bay players.
Rookie defensive lineman Jerel Worthy was hurt on the opening kickoff of the second half. The former Michigan State standout suffered a concussion and will be monitored and evaluated as the week progresses.
Fellow defensive lineman Mike Neal also left the game with an injury. Neal injured his right ankle and was unable to return to the game.
As Rodgers Goes, The Offense Goes
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished the day with two touchdown passes, but the Packers’ signal caller was out of sorts all afternoon.
Rodgers looked somewhat dazed and unenthused throughout the game as he finished with 186 yards on 22-of-35 passing.
Add in two fumbles, one of which was called back due to a Jaguars’ penalty, and QB1 had an afternoon to forget. Perhaps he’s playing hurt, perhaps the numerous sacks and hits are taking a toll, but for one reason or another he did not look like his fiery, focused self on Sunday.
Fortunately for the Packers, point differential in the NFL is unimportant. No matter the score, a win is a win, and even with a less than stellar day from their MVP, the Packers found a way to victory.
Good teams find ways to win games and despite a lackluster and dull performance, the Packers proved their worth on Sunday.
With the victory, the Packers improved to 5-3 on the season and have put together a three-game winning streak. They remain in Green Bay to face the Arizona Cardinals next week, who have lost three in a row and host the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football this evening.
The Cardinals are the last stop before a much needed bye week for the Packers as they hope the rest will help shrink their lengthy list of injured players.
Max Ginsberg is a regular contributor at CheeseheadTV, blogs at PurplePantsGreenJersey.com and can be reached via Twitter @MaxGinsberg or at maxginsberg[at]yahoo.com.