The Packers routed the Texans 42-24 on Sunday night.
Making The Most Of Opportunities
The Packers have been on the wrong side of a few calls this season, but the Green and Gold caught a break on the opening possessions of each half Sunday night.
On the offense’s first possession of the game, Texans’ rookie special teamer DeVier Posey lined up offsides on a Tim Masthay punt, giving the Packers a fresh set of downs.
On the very next play, Aaron Rodgers dropped back to pass and lofted the ball over the left shoulder of Jordy Nelson. Nelson hauled in the 41-yard rainbow and dove for the pylon to open up the game’s scoring.
The beginning of the second half also started in a similar fashion. After marching down the field, the offense stalled in the red zone but the Texans committed two costly penalties giving the Packers new life.
Two drops by Packers’ receivers set up a Mason Crosby field goal attempt, but during the kick, the Texans committed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty which gave Green Bay an automatic first down.
Another drop by a Packers’ receiver appeared to doom the offense again, but Texans’ safety Danieal Manning punched Packers’ tackle Marshall Newhouse in the helmet, drawing yet another penalty and setting up Jordy Nelson’s third touchdown catch of the game.
Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers is looking more and more like his predecessor in Green Bay.
Think about it. How often did Brett Favre come out jittery and overthrow his receivers early in games? And how Favre-esque was that shovel pass to Tom Crabtree in the first quarter?
How about the play where Rodgers scrambled, made J.J. Watt miss and found a streaking Randall Cobb in stride for a 24-yard gain? Or the laser-like throw to Jordy Nelson for Rodgers’ third touchdown pass of the night?
Normally, any sort of Aaron Rodgers versus Brett Favre comparison is unwelcome, but perhaps enough time has passed to start equating the two in a favorable fashion.
The Packers defense started the evening without nose tackle B.J. Raji and lost three more starters to injury as the game wore on. Regardless of who saw the field, however, Dom Capers’ unit dominated.
The defense held the Texans’ three stars to pedestrian numbers. Quarterback Matt Schuab finished the game with no touchdown passes and two interceptions, running back Arian Foster scored on two short runs but was held to 29 rushing yards and receiver Andre Johnson caught 8 balls for 75 yards and no touchdowns.
Aside from a couple blown coverages in the third quarter, the Packers kept the pressure on Schuab all night and forced the Texans to abandon their usually potent ground attack.
Add in the defense’s three interceptions, two by rookie Casey Hayward, and the Packers put together an admirable performance after blowing an 18-point lead in their last outing.
The Packers were banged up coming into the contest and left the game even more battered and bruised.
Outside linebacker Nick Perry was the first Packers player to go down with a leg injury. The rookie outside linebacker hurt his left knee early in the game and was unable to return.
Inside linebacker D.J. Smith also hurt his knee when he was blindsided by Texans’ tackle Duane Brown after Arian Foster changed directions and came back towards Smith on a running play.
Brown appeared to lead with his helmet and will likely receive a fine from the league office, but the damage to Smith appears to be worse than anything the league could hand out. Smith was carted off the field wearing a brace on his right leg.
Backup running back Brandon Saine also left the field on a cart. He injured his left knee covering a kickoff in the third quarter.
Sam Shields became the fourth player to go down when he injured his shin in the fourth quarter. After being kicked in the shin by teammate Mike Neal, Shields was helped off the field without being able to put any weight on his right leg. Along with Smith and Saine, Shields became the third player to be carted off to the locker room.
No Jennings, No Problem
Without their top wideout or running back, the Packers offense finally found its rhythm. Accounting for all of the team’s touchdowns, quarterback Aaron Rodgers led the no huddle offense with confidence and composure as he finished with six touchdown passes and no interceptions.
In place of the injured Cedric Benson, second year back Alex Green looked more explosive than he has in his entire career as he carried the ball 22 times for 65 yards. Although his stats were less than impressive, Green’s presence and timely runs provided just enough for Rodgers to do his damage.
Receiver James Jones also shone on Sunday night. His three catches for 33 yards do not tell the complete story as two of his receptions went for touchdowns. Both scores required spectacular concentration and Jones now has 23 catches on the year with just under one-third of them, seven to be exact, accounting for touchdowns.
The Packers finally put together a complete game to trounce the Texans. Next Sunday, the team travels to St. Louis to face the Rams. Despite a rough start to the year, the team is back to .500 and, perhaps more importantly, has captured the swagger that had escaped them for the season’s first five games.
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.