The Green Bay Packers easily defeated the Tennessee Titans 55-7.
All the Right Moves
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has taken a lot of criticism lately for standing by his kicker Mason Crosby.
On Sunday, Crosby finally made his coach look good by hitting both field goal attempts. For the first time since Week 3, the Packers’ kicker made every field goal he attempted in a game.
While McCarthy remained steadfast to his kicker all season, the same cannot be said about his center. This week the Packers made the move to third-year lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith to replace veteran Jeff Saturday at center.
The move appeared to pay dividends as the running game looked impressive and Dietrich-Smith consistently reached the second level on his blocks. Aside from one sack in the first half, the Packers offensive line played well with Dietrich-Smith anchoring the line.
It’s that time of year again. The Packers rushing attack has come alive in the month of December.
With injuries to Alex Green and James Starks, the Packers’ backup options did an admirable job shouldering the load.
The team finished with 117 rushing yards, and an effective running game opened up the passing game for Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offense.
Ryan Grant looked inspired early on as he rattled off runs of 18- and 9-yards on the Packers' initial touchdown drive. The veteran running back, who was re-signed three weeks ago, averaged four yards per carry, converted a tough fourth-and-1 and added two touchdowns in the game.
Starter DuJuan Harris also contributed to the rushing resurgence. The second-year player scored his second career touchdown on the opening possession of the second half and chipped in 29 total yards on the day.
With the Packers’ running backs and the defense each finding a rhythm late in the season, the Packers are well positioned as the team enters the playoffs.
Exactly How It Was Drawn Up
The Titans’ offense showed its true colors on Sunday, but credit the Packers’ defense for spoiling Tennessee’s trip to Green Bay.
The defensive unit rose to the occasion holding Titans’ running back Chris Johnson to just 28 yards on 11 carries and, more importantly, holding the team to a single touchdown late in the game.
The defense posted seven sacks, two interceptions and held Tennessee to 180 total yards.
Individually, veteran linebacker A.J. Hawk recorded two sacks, three hits on Tennessee’s Jake Locker and posted seven tackles.
In a league where nothing comes easily, the entire Packers’ defense made things look simple and effortless on Sunday.
Randall Cobb suffered an ankle injury during a second half punt return. Initially, the injury appeared serious as both teammates and opponents waved for trainers to attend to Cobb, but the receiver was able to jog off the field under his own power before walking to the Packers’ locker room.
Cornerback Davon House was also injured during a punt return in the fourth quarter. House injured his left shoulder, the same shoulder he dislocated in preseason action.
After the game, Mike McCarthy seemed cautiously optimistic regarding Cobb’s injury.
“The training staff on the field did not give me anything to believe that it was very serious but as you know with ankle sprains and joint injuries the next day is a huge indicator,” McCarthy told reporters.
Early Monday morning, initial tests also proved positive for Cobb. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk reported that X-ray's on Randall Cobb's ankle were negative. Early reports suggest that the Packers' receiver dodged a bullet Sunday.
The Packers finish their regular season next week in Minnesota. A win solidifies the second seed in the playoffs and a week of rest. A loss puts the Packers in the third seed and a playoff game at Lambeau.
The Vikings posted an impressive victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday. As a team, the Vikings will be fighting for a playoff spot, and individually, Adrian Peterson will be chasing Erik Dickerson’s single-season rushing yard record. Peterson needs 208 yards to eclipse Dickerson’s record; he hammered out 210 the last time these two teams met.
As for the Packers, good teams find ways to win close games and good teams easily defeat lesser opponents. After a slow start to the season, the Packers are proving to be a good team.
With no clear leader in either conference, the Packers have as good a chance as any other team to run the table and find themselves playing in New Orleans come February.
Max Ginsberg is a regular contributor at CheeseheadTV and is clearly dedicated to the Packers as evidenced by his driving over an hour this week to find a sports bar in northern Minnesota so he could watch the game. You can reach him on Twitter @MaxGinsberg or by email at maxginsberg[at]yahoo.com.