The Green Bay Packers entered this week 17 game knowing they were already in the postseason. But there was more to be gained. A win over the Detroit Lions would mean a division title and the fourth seed in the NFC and that's exactly what the Packers ended up with. After a back-and-forth battle with a Lions team that has made a living off of coming back late to steal wins and give their opponents fits, the Packers finally pulled away and finished a running of the table that was the goal set six weeks ago. Head coach Mike McCarthy helped get his team ready to play a big road game even after learning that they'd live to play next week either way. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had another great showing in a big road game. And this Packers team overcame yet more injuries to hang on and win another game. How long can it continue? Fortunately, we have at least one more week to ask that question.
On to the best and worst from week 17 against the Lions.
Nine carries for 61 yards and a touchdown catch. An average of 6.8 yards per carry. That sounds about right. .for what we'd expect from Ty Montgomery. Instead it was Ripkowski who the Packers were able to lean on early in this game. He single-handedly kept the ground game relevant. He ran hard and found the crease. 61 yards from your lead blocker is a nice contribution in a big game. This could become a nice wrinkle during the postseason if he's healthy enough to carry on (pun intended).
Rodgers does it again. His mobility looked back to normal, which is near miraculous considering how he looked in the Seattle and Chicago games. Rodgers stayed in the pocket, took his shots and continued his resurgence in the passing game. He was 27 of 39 for 300 yards and four touchdowns. Quarterback rating of 126.0. The bigger stat: 10 rushes for 42 yards. Rodgers was without that ability to run for a few weeks and this game might have been very different were it not for Rodgers' ability to extend plays and pick up first downs with his feet.
All of this MVP talk for Rodgers is going to continue. And it should. While he may not win it, this team has nothing without this quarterback. Their defense is a "who's who" and become more and more of that every week as defensive backs continue to go down. They aren't stopping teams for four quarters. They're having a tough time closing out games. But they're winning those games because of one Aaron Rodgers. What a great first game of 2017 for #12.
Allison filled in for Randall Cobb for a second straight week. He had just four catches but they were all key grabs, especially the touchdown. The play turned into a scramble drill and while the Packers do that all the time in practice and have found success with it time and time again, to see a young player like Allison get himself the slightest of windows for Rodgers to fit the ball into was a thing of beauty. An undrafted free agent, most guys like that aren't having the type of production Allison is. It helps that he has one of the best passers in the game throwing him the ball but it's clear that that very passer has a lot of confidence in Allison. Cobb should return but until then, the passing game is going to need more big moments from Allison throughout the postseason.
I've seen many comparisons between Randall and former Packers first-round cornerback Ahmad Carroll. For those of you who remember Carroll, that's not a good thing for Randall. While I don't quite know that I would go as far as to compare Randall to Carroll, it's clear that the second year corner is struggling. He was benched for a the second time in three weeks after blowing coverage and allowing a deep completion in the first half. There is still a question as to whether Randall is hurting more than we know, as it was reported that he would likely have been inactive last week against the Minnesota Vikings had the Packers not been so short on bodies in the secondary. It's tough to hand out this lame call but Randall has to perform if he's going to be out there. This defense needs his best. Randall also had a penalty on special teams right after the misplay, adding to the "when it rains, it pours" trend with #23.
You're not paid to catch footballs, you're paid to drive quarterbacks into the ground. But when it hits you in both hands with no one around you, you have to catch it, Clay. It would have erased a touchdown by the Lions and may have possibly been a touchdown for the Packers. Those types of squandered opportunities will end the Packers' season in a hurry starting next week. A 14 point swing lands you right in here in the lame call section.
Hail Mary Coverage
Last year in this same building the Packers did the improbable when Richard Rodgers hauled in a prayer for the win. It wasn't for the win, but of course it's Anquan Boldin once again making a big touchdown catch against the Packers in a big game. Please cover old boy! Please! That should never be a completed pass and it made this game just a touch more than it needed to be. Ironically, it was Richard Rodgers with the ball in his hands again in Detroit after a last desperation play to seal the win on the ensuing onside kick.
Jerome Boger & His Crew
We aren't at, watching or experiencing NFL games to listen to referees over the mic all night. As has been said many times recently, we shouldn't know who the refs are by name. We shouldn't be worried about which crew is officiating games. But this game was a reminder that some crews are determined to be a major storyline in the outcome, which is never going to be a good thing for the league, teams or their fans. 15 penalties on the night and often coming in bunches. The officials need to enforce the rules and there were plenty of infractions but it seemed excessive.
Others to mention:
- Blake Martinez appears to be back from his knee injury. He was credited with a sack and another tackle for loss. With an injury to Joe Thomas, Martinez and Jake Ryan will need to fill in in that nickel and dime linebacker role
- LaDarius Gunter had two pass break up's and continues to be a steady performer. Still waiting for him to nab a big play
- Kentrell Brice filled in nicely and sent a message to Marvin Jones on a catch that Jones made. He sent the receiver wobbling to the sideline and I don't believe Jones was able to return after that. If he starts getting in the heads of receivers, he could turn into a nice addition to the regular rotation in the secondary
- Injuries to the secondary keep me from harping on the pass defense. Dom Capers is the easy target week after week but he's working with a patch work group at this point. Quinten Rollins is likely done for the season so there's another man down. Hopefully Randall can go and is ready to step up and improve. It's terrible timing heading into the postseason where it's premiere pass catchers every week. The defense has to somehow find a way to rise up. Detroit was only 5 of 12 on third down in this game
- Micah Hyde with a big interception late to keep points off the board for the Lions. It's scary to think Hyde is going to see more time in coverage with all of the injuries to the other corners, but if he's going to make plays like that, the Packers may come out ahead
- Jacob Schum had some clunkers in a dome, yet he was kicking so well outdoors in the cold. I can't figure this guy out but he did have a few nice kicks
- Mason Crosby missed an extra point late and it had that feel of something that would factor in the outcome. Fortunately the Packers weren't having any of that noise and a two-point conversion later made up the missed point
- Mike McCarthy called a pretty good game. The third down quarterback run was possibly his best call of the season. It helps when your stars are all coming through for you, especially the quarterback. Hopefully it's just the beginning
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