Game Recap: Packers Beat Panthers 24-16

Sarah Kelliher recaps the Packers’ week fifteen win against the Panthers.

A win is a win, and for the Green Bay Packers (11-3, 4-1 NFC North), that’s all the needed against the Carolina Panthers (4-10, 1-4 NFC South) in week fifteen. Saturday’s game wasn’t the prettiest but Green Bay did enough good things to still secure a 24-16 win over Carolina and remain atop the NFC.  

The Panthers had the first crack at things on Saturday and didn’t come up with much of anything. The Packers defense came out locked in and focused and forced a three and out to open the game. On the contrary, Green Bay’s offense, led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, took control of this one early.  

Running back Aaron Jones busted out of the backfield on third down for 46 yards to get things moving on Green Bay’s opening drive. Then, after the Packers reached the gold zone, Rodgers looked to one of his favorite targets this season, tight end Robert Tonyan, for what was almost a touchdown after he came up short at the 1-yard line. Rodgers must have promised Tonyan a touchdown before the game though, because on the next play, he went right back to him for a 1-yard touchdown and the 7-0 lead. The touchdown pass was Rodgers’ 40th on the season and with it he becomes the first quarterback in NFL history to achieve three, 40 plus touchdown seasons.  

Green Bay’s d-train continued to hold their own on its next drive too, forcing Carolina to settle for a 36-yard field goal attempt. The kick was good, and the Panthers cut the Packers’ early lead to 7-3.

On Green Bay’s next drive, Aaron Rodgers gave every fan a little early holiday present. After a defensive pass interference call and a 14-yard catch from wide receiver Davante Adams, Rodgers scrambled for a 6-yard touchdown to make it 14-3 and capped it off with his signature belt celebration. Earlier this week on the Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers hinted that the belt celebration was not gone forever and could make a reappearance soon. Luckily for Packers fans, they didn’t have to wait long.

Just went it looked like the Panthers might make this one interesting after converting on fourth down in the red zone, the Packers defense came up with a huge defensive play. Linebacker Krys Barnes forced a fumble on the 1-yard line and cornerback Kevin King was there to scoop it up and return it to Carolina’s 47-yard line.

King’s recovery put Green Bay in position to put their foot on the gas and they took advantage. In the blink of an eye, Jones was wide open on a run-play and skipping his way into the endzone for an 8-yard touchdown and what would eventually be a 21-3 halftime lead.  

Sadly, the fun essentially stopped there for Green Bay’s offense (and really anyone watching the game).

On their next two drives, the Packers offense essentially hit a wall. Rodgers couldn’t connect with any of his receivers and the offensive line wasn’t doing him any favors. After dominating nearly every opponent thus far, the offensive line had their work cut out against them Saturday against Carolina. Rodgers had little to no time to get the ball off, or even try and escape the pocket, before it collapsed entirely.

After nothing on offense from the Packers, the Panthers kept on fighting in what was a truly lackluster third quarter and finally broke through. They went 51 yards in 7 plays and, with an assist from a holding penalty on the Packers, finally found the end zone. Carolina’s quarterback Teddy Bridgewater scrambled for the 13-yard score to make it 21-10.

The Packers were, once again, forced to punt on their last drive of the quarter and the numbers spoke for themselves. According to the NFL Network broadcast, Green Bay had a total of just 19 yards in the third quarter.

Green Bay’s defense played well for most of this game, but they started to look gassed (and rightfully so) after the offense spent barely any time on the field in the second half. As a result, the Panthers were quickly back in the red zone. However, a holding penalty pushed them back 10 yards and allowed the Packers to hold them to a field goal. The Panthers’ 22-yard field goal attempt was good, and the Packers’ lead was even slimmer at 21-13.

After what felt like years, the Packers were finally able to get points on the board, all thanks to kicker Mason “Grey Hair” Crosby. Last week, Crosby tied his career-long with a 58-yard field goal and, on Saturday, he was good from 51-yards out to extend the Packers’ lead by two scores to 24-13.  

The Panthers responded with yet another field goal, this time from 33-yards out to give us our final score of 24-16. After the Packers were forced to punt for the fourth time in the half, the Panthers still had some fight left in them. They did their best to make this one interesting, but with 55 seconds left, felt the consequences of an intentional grounding penalty that pushed them back 10-yards and ultimately out of reach for a comeback win.

 

What we learned: The offense isn’t perfect

The NFL’s highest scoring offense didn’t find the end zone a single time in the second half on Saturday. After absolutely dominating the Panthers in the first half, the Packers crumbled in the second and struggled to find any sort of rhythm offensively.

In the last several weeks, no one has been able to slow down Davante Adams and Carolina did just that. They held Adams to just 7 receptions for 42 yards (ESPN stats) and virtually eliminated the Packers’ biggest offensive weapon. Sure, it didn’t help that the offensive line didn’t give Rodgers much of a chance to connect with Adams (we’ll talk about that more later), but let’s give some credit where credit is due. The Panthers were able to at least throw the Packers off enough and slow them down more than most teams have this season.

In my opinion, however, this shouldn’t be a game the Packers stress over. They should review the tape, walk through what went wrong and make the proper adjustments and move forward. It’s easy to be frustrated with how Green Bay played but what truly matters is that they still won this game. In the end, that’s all that matters, and it’s better to get a poor performance out of their system now, and still walk away with a win, than later when the stakes are significantly higher.  

 

What went right: The defense

The Packers defense must have read all our tweets. Besides a couple of players, Green Bay really showed up on the defensive side of the ball on Saturday. They forced a team total of 3 sacks, 4 tackles for a loss, 7 pass deflections and 6 QB hits (ESPN stats). Typically, the offense ends up bailing the defense out of games, but Saturday was pretty much the opposite. Gassed and all, the defense held its own and I hope that momentum swings into next week, especially with running back Derrick Henry on his way.  

 

What went wrong: The o-line

The Packers’ offensive line has been consistently strong all season, but they crumbled against the Panthers on Saturday. They allowed a season high 5 sacks (ESPN stats) and Rodgers had little time to do anything throughout the night. According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, before Saturday, Rodgers was sacked at the second-lowest rate in the NFL on just 3 percent of dropbacks this season. Surely, that’s about to change.

 

Offensive MVP: Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones was the clear offensive MVP for Green Bay in week fifteen. Jones had a total of 20 carries for 145 yards and a rushing touchdown, as well as 3 receptions for 13 yards (ESPN stats). He did most of the heavy lifting on Saturday after Williams left the game with an apparent injury.

 

Defensive MVP: Adrian Amos

Week after week, Adrian Amos continues to show up for the Green Bay Packers. Amos was all over the field on Saturday and the box score backs it up. He had 7 total tackles, 6 of which were solo, 1 sack, 3 pass deflections and 1 quarterback hit (ESPN stats).

 

A look at some of your takeaways!

  • “A win is a win, but it doesn't really feel satisfying after the second half even though it doesn't even matter in the end.” -@KevinBill19
  • “Mason Crosby!” [email protected]_46
  • “Defense having their best game.” -@Mangless
  •  “These "no juice" games at home scare me. But a W is a W.” -@JoshuaSmentek

 

Up next, the Green Bay Packers get a visit from the Tennessee Titans for a Sunday Night Football matchup. Kickoff is set for next Sunday, December 27 at 8:20 p.m. EST.

 

Sarah Kelliher is a contributor for CheeseheadTV and a podcaster with Pack-A-Day Podcast. She can be found via Twitter @sarahkelliher4

 

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Comments (11)

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Mojo's picture

December 20, 2020 at 01:03 am

Packers big picture:

The good

It wasn't their best game of the season but they still managed to win.

They've won four in a row, avoiding any stumbles in potential trap games.

They still have a great chance at the number one seed and first round bye.

The bad

They have a lot of wins, but their the strength of their opponents is pretty low.

Only three of their 14 2020 opponents would qualify for the playoffs going into Sundays games. GB has lost to two of them.

The offense has been largely effective, but I would hate to depend on their D if GB had a one score or less lead against a quality opponent late in the game.

It's been an enjoyable season so far, but I have no idea how really strong this team is.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 20, 2020 at 06:32 am

The only teams that scare me in the playoffs are the Rams and Bucs, simply because of their fast front 7 that will shut down our running game. If we got to the Super Bowl, the Chiefs are a mirror of our team. The Bills might be really tough too.

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Big_Mel_75's picture

December 21, 2020 at 09:46 am

And the Rams just lost to the 0-13 Jets... Who never trailed in the game.... The Bucs who had to rally from down 17-0... Nobody is perfect in the NFC.... Everyone in the NFC is beatable. AFC is the worry.

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

December 20, 2020 at 05:40 am

Thanks for the great recap Sarah! Those of us whose cable does not carry the NFL Network, and who are not tech savvy enough to get the bootleg stream to work, really appreciate it.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 20, 2020 at 09:47 am

That's a good point. Do you have Roku or some of the other streaming devices. For example, if you have access to roku, you could have used a free trial Roku was offering to SlingTV or FuboTV, both of which have the NFL Network. Just make sure to cancel right away because Sling is $45 per month and Fubo is a whopping $65 something per month.

Something for us to think about at CHTV.

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PeteK's picture

December 20, 2020 at 10:52 am

All of this streaming bullshit will cost us more money in the end for entertainment. A person can't even see a good new movie in theaters or dvd anymore unless we have a streaming service. I remember when cable first came out(jokes aside)no commercials then only half way through a movie and finally just as many commercials.

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Hematite's picture

December 20, 2020 at 05:56 am

Sadly the Packers are a one half team.

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PeteK's picture

December 20, 2020 at 10:55 am

Happily, most teams are zero half teams.

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Big_Mel_75's picture

December 21, 2020 at 09:48 am

Good thing is so is the rest of the NFC... Buc's had to rally from 17-0 to beat the Falcon's. The Rams and their vaunted defense just lost to the winless Jets... Take a breath and enjoy!

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Lphill's picture

December 20, 2020 at 06:33 am

Thank you Sarah, it was very obvious in the first half Barnes and Martin were very aggressive both players attacking the ball and filling holes something we have not seen in awhile from Packers linebackers , yet the second half Pettine played Kirksey more and if you go over film you will see him laying back and not attacking , he also missed a tackle on a long run and gave up several critical passes in the middle , also the O line was awful , Runyan needed to be in , can't allow 5 sacks it's just unacceptable.

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PeteK's picture

December 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

I was thinking the same, Patrick had his worst game even if it was against a young talented DT( Brown). He's still inexperienced and hopefully will learn from this. If not , we have viable choices.

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