2020 Week 16 - That’s What Cheese Said

“It’s tough to play in the cold. It’s tough to play at Lambeau."

The Packers put together their most complete performance of the season at Lambeau Field on Sunday Night Football, and what a performance it was. Under the lights, in the snow, Green Bay beat the Titans 40-14, holding the league’s leading rusher to 98 yards with no score. 

“I think we’ve all heard the conversation about us not beating enough good teams and not responding and playing a complete game,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “This was our response.”

Rodgers had another MVP-caliber performance Sunday night, completing 21-of-25 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns with one interception, giving him a rating of 128.1. 

Three of those touchdowns went to receiver Davante Adams, who continues to expand on his career season. Adams hauled in 11 receptions for 142 yards and his three scores, bringing his touchdown total to 17 on the season. 

“I’ve said for so long that Charles [Woodson] was the best player that I’ve played with. And Charles could dominate in a way I’ve never seen a nickel corner dominate before,” Rodgers said post-game. “It’s probably time to start putting Davante in that conversation because he is that type of player. He’s a special player.” 

Beyond the electric performances from #12 and #17, the offense benefitted from some newer contributors. After a long wait, receiver Equanimeous St. Brown hauled in his first career touchdown on Sunday, and tight end Dominique Dafney had his first career reception, good for 13 yards and a first down. 

The Packers have so many weapons on offense that there are games, like Sunday night, where notable names like Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Robert Tonyan barely show up on the stat sheet, but Head Coach Matt LaFleur made sure to emphasize the value they have even when they aren’t catching passes. 

“The one thing I think that you can never take for granted is guys buying into the team. Putting the team first. Owning their role and doing it to the best of their ability,” he said, using Lazard’s run-blocking as an example of something you can’t put a value on. 

“That stuff doesn’t show up on a stat sheet, but that makes the difference between winning and losing.”

Perhaps, though, the biggest night came from second-round draft pick AJ Dillon. Leading up to kickoff, all eyes were on Titans running back Derrick Henry and how he matched up against the Packers defense. Instead, it was Dillon who put on a show at Lambeau, rushing for 124 yards on 21 attempts for a 5.9-yard average and two touchdowns. 

“Obviously, big respect to him and just to kind of be in the same talking point, it’s a huge honor,” Dillon said of the night he had opposite Henry, whose film he studies often as the league’s leading rusher. 

“AJ did exactly what I’ve been waiting for this whole time,” Adams said of his teammate’s breakout performance.

It was a big night for the backfield, with Aaron Jones rushing for 94 yards on 10 carries for a 9.4-yard average, though 59 of those yards came on a lucky break with Jones tiptoeing the sideline and stepping out, which the officials missed in the snow. 

“Between the o-line and AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones, they deserve the game ball a million percent. Them and the defense,” added Adams. 

Defensively, the Packers pitched a shutout for almost the entire second half, allowing zero points after a Ryan Tannehill rushing touchdown that came three minutes into the third quarter. 

Safety Darnell Savage had an interception on the night and dropped what likely would’ve been a pick-six. All told, the second-year pro could’ve ended up with three or four picks in the game. 

“I feel like I really just kind of settled in,” Savage said of his second season. He leads the team with four interceptions. 

LaFleur agreed, heaping praise onto Savage post-game. “It’s so fun to see a guy work so hard and start to have the results.”

Inside linebacker Christian Kirksey also had an impressive stat line against the Titans, posting a sack and interception on Sunday. 

“First off, I think Mike Pettine put us in the best position to succeed today. I thought his play-calling was excellent,” Kirksey said after the game. “We’re getting closer and closer as a group. We’re getting more and more confident.” 

The defense had 10 passes defensed on Sunday, two sacks, and a forced fumble, and they held the number one ranked Titans offense to only 260 total yards. 

“It’s crazy ‘cause, I know, speaking for me and I’m sure I can speak for everybody else too, I feel like we still haven’t played our best game yet defensively,” said Savage. 

The players on defense aren’t the only ones noticing the improvement from the unit. Rodgers had plenty of praise for the squad, too, mentioning that he liked the disguises he saw from the defense and that he felt the team tackled really well. 

“Yeah, that was championship-style defense,” he said when asked if the defense is Super Bowl-caliber. “I felt like they played with a lot more confidence than maybe they have at any point this season.”

“To hold a team like that, that is that explosive, to 14 points and 260 yards, I think that was a hell of a performance by our defense,” added LaFleur, who said he senses a different energy from his defense with guys flying around to the ball consistently. 

It was Green Bay’s most complete game of the season, and it came at the perfect time. 

“This was it, man. This was definitely it,” Adams said of the team’s complete performance through all four quarters in all three phases. “It was a beautiful game.”

While the Packers couldn’t clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC on Sunday night, they’ll have the opportunity to do so in Chicago at Soldier Field. There will be plenty on the line with the Bears trying to secure the final wild card spot in the playoffs. 

Green Bay knows what’s at stake, and that’s home field advantage throughout the playoffs, something that Rodgers has yet to have in his career. All eyes are on the prize with the possibility to finally host an NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field. Win on Sunday, and that gets easier. 

“People definitely don’t wanna play in the cold. It’s tough. It makes you a little less physical, takes your speed away,” said Adams, adding that it can take a toll on your body, especially when you don’t get to practice in it and acclimate to it like the Packers do. 

The team is potentially a short plane ride away from not having to leave Green Bay until the Super Bowl. It’s everything the Packers would’ve asked for heading into an unprecedented season, and now it’s right in front of them. 

“It’s tough to play in the cold. It’s tough to play at Lambeau,” said Rodgers. 

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (16)

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Leatherhead's picture

December 29, 2020 at 12:28 pm

"....the Packers have so many weapons that....."

Loved it. Jackie Chan can use a step ladder as a weapon, and Aaron Rodgers can use an EQ , or a Shephard, or a Malik or a Geronimo.

During the annual off-season whining about "weapons for Rodgers" (and before that, "weapons for Favre"), I often wondered that if you needed superduper weapons, why do you need a superduper QB, too? An average guy can succeed with superduper weapons, so a superduper QB should be able to use whatever is handy as a weapon, like Jackie Chan. And Aaron Rodgers is the Jackie Chan of quarterbacks.

Keep him protected and give him time to do the job and he's going to move the ball and put points on the board with whatever he's got to work with. He's not going to take sacks or turn it over very often. He's very accurate.

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fastmoving's picture

December 29, 2020 at 01:11 pm

Thats what I said for 20 years. Last guy I thought we should have was Moss......

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Spock's picture

December 29, 2020 at 03:51 pm

LoL, Loved the Jackie Chan reference. When I was in college (1976) for my first degree I was taking a "Kung Fu" course after hours taught by a dude who'd studied in the East. At that time the t.v. show "Kung Fu" was a big thing and I loved watching Carridine (spelling?) in the lead role using whatever came to hand as a weapon against whichever (weekly) bad guy who was trying to take him down. :)

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

December 30, 2020 at 01:02 am

"Kung Fu" was a fantastic show, thanks so much for bringing it up! David Carradine was so perfect in that role. It is always difficult to watch him as a bad guy in "Lone Wolf McQuade".

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HankScorpio's picture

December 30, 2020 at 05:49 am

"Loved it. Jackie Chan can use a step ladder as a weapon, and Aaron Rodgers can use an EQ , or a Shephard, or a Malik or a Geronimo."

Most of the time he can this year, at least to date. It was a different story last year.

The playoffs are coming and that is a different animal. Maybe it will continue. I certainly believe it can be so. But I'd feel a lot better about it if those guys were actual weapons, instead of step-ladders being used as weapons. Like Patrick Mahoomes has. He's like Jackie Chan with throwing stars and numchucks, which are more dangerous than step ladders.

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mnbadger's picture

December 29, 2020 at 12:39 pm

Man it's fun being a Packer fan right now. Somehow I'd like to share the feeling with my local viqueens fans.
Nooo I don't! They'll never have this feeling. At least not until they win a bunch of championships and know that there's a REAL possibility of it happening virtually every year. GPG

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Spock's picture

December 29, 2020 at 04:01 pm

Maggie, always enjoy your articles and these quotes are always an interesting take on the players/coaches reactions to a game. I hope MLF will have his team primed for the Bears despite the team totally dominating them in November ( 41 to 25). The Bears have their main dude back in the middle on defense and the Packers will be playing on that god-awful Soldier field turf (an injury mine field). MLF has been awesome against the NFC opponents; we just need one more good game to close the deal this year and make the warm weather teams go thru Lambeau en route to our SB win!!!!!

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Lphill's picture

December 29, 2020 at 04:22 pm

By using a 6 or 7 man front the result is being able to stop the run , this guy Pettine is a genius , it only took about 2 seasons to come up with that plan.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 29, 2020 at 06:10 pm

Haven't been his fan either, but have to give him credit for adjusting. Let's hope he has everyone ready for Chicago. That's all that matters this week.

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PearlyBakerBest's picture

December 29, 2020 at 06:36 pm

We give new head coaches a few years to implement their offense. We give new players a 2,3,4 years to develop. We talk about how potent the offense is in the second year. This is really only Pettine’s second year with this defense. Are DC’s not allowed a 2,3,4 years to get their schemes implemented? So is the defenses improvement because Pettine had some kind of epiphany or are the players a) developing and b) starting to play with a better understanding of what he wants t do?

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Lphill's picture

December 29, 2020 at 07:02 pm

Sending out 2 and 3 man fronts and dropping back 6 or 7 against mediocre quarterbacks seemed to be Pettine's MO , opening up the run game, he made no adjustments against the 49 ers last year acting like Jimmy G was Joe Montana , and what did he attempt 10 passes ? Please , we have the players we need an aggressive DC , hopefully somebody like Dan Quinn .

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

December 30, 2020 at 01:10 am

Is it possible for you post a comment that does not have spaces before your punctuation marks? Do you even realize that is grammatically incorrect?

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fastmoving's picture

December 30, 2020 at 04:01 am

Yeah, thats true. We have the players because of good drafts and even better management. Thanx to Mark and Gute

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Coldworld's picture

December 29, 2020 at 06:44 pm

Better late than never. I acknowledge that he did it, but full credit must hold till we see if this becomes part of a balanced defense. The significance is minor if we don’t see this again as part of our defensive armory.

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HankScorpio's picture

December 30, 2020 at 05:08 am

It's a little too much Kool-Aid for my tastes to say the Packers have lots of weapons. My eyes tell me they have a few they are milking heavily. It does not hurt that among those weapons are the QB and the offensive staff. That makes ordinary guys more productive than their talent might suggest. But it doesn't make them weapons. There are plenty of other ordinary guys that could step in and do the same.

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BigCheezeFan1972's picture

February 04, 2021 at 08:59 am

Still can't believe these guys go out there and play in short sleeves! What a bunch of animals! Go pack go!

Johnny |

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