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Packers 28 Cowboys 7: Game Balls & Lame Calls

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Packers 28 Cowboys 7: Game Balls & Lame Calls

The Green Bay Packers answered at least a few questions about whether the miracle win in Detroit last week was more fluke or possibly the start of a strong finish towards the postseason.  They emerged with a 28-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys on a rainy day in Green Bay.  It was the Packers' first win at home since October 18th.  With three games left, the Packers now hold a one-game lead over the Minnesota Vikings in the race for the NFC North.  They also gain some momentum with a second-straight win and will now hit the road for their next two games.

This game was much closer to what the Packers themselves and their fans are accustomed to seeing.  Dominant at home, controlling the game throughout.  The Packers had their most rushing yardage in a December home game (230) in as long as I can remember.  The weather conditions were also a lot more forgiving than they usually are this time of year.  Instead of snow, Green Bay got rain most of the day and the Packers were prepared.  Head coach Mike McCarthy took back the play calling duties and the offense looked better than it has in over two months.  The defense continues to play at a high level and closed out strongly against a visibly-broken Cowboys offense.

On to the good and bad from the win over Dallas!

Game Balls

Eddie Lacy

All we heard all week long was how Lacy would get the start and come out with a vengeance.  With the rainy conditions, the Cowboys knew the Packers would be feeding the run game but that didn't offer any help to Dallas's run defense at all.  Lacy established himself early on and almost appeared to be running mad.  This is the Lacy the Packers need the rest of the way this season if they're going to do anything special.  Lacy ended with 124 yards on 24 carries, good for an average of 5.2 yards per carry.  Up 21-7 in the fourth quarter and needing to burn some clock, Lacy rattled off a 24-yard run, his longest of the day that was highlighted by his keeping his legs driving and nearly scoring before being taken down at the one-yard line.  Lacy scored on the next snap.  The Packers get a lot more dangerous if Lacy is running this well from here on out.

Offensive Line

With that many rushing yards, how can I not give the line a game ball?  They had a few holds but besides the ground game success, they also gave Aaron Rodgers some good time to move around and find success in the passing game.  Bryan Bulaga had a decent day after being questionable most of the week.  David Bakhtiari held his own at left tackle and J.C. Tretter did an admirable job in the middle in relief of Corey Linsley.  

This line has been battered all season long.  If they can somehow get a bit healthier down the stretch, the Packers should have a good chance to play their best football of the season.

Jeff Janis

Janis didn't see a single snap at receiver in this game, much to the chagrin of his fans all around the world.  What Janis did do was be as stellar as one can on punt coverage.  Twice, Janis met the returner at the same time as the ball did and made big stops both times.  This is Janis's role on this team.  He's a special teams ace.  If you had asked earlier this season who would be this year's heir to Jarrett Bush, how many would have answered with Janis?  Janis has been very good on special teams all season long and it's no surprise that the Packers special teams have been much better this year than they were last.  Who knows, this may even lead to a good enough week at practice that Janis sees a few snaps at receiver.  Maybe.

James "Neo" Starks

Starks had 71 yards rushing and 32 yards through the air, adding in a touchdown each way as well.  At one point, McCarthy was going with Starks as the hot hand.  Neo has had his best season and is running so smoothly.  He's getting into space and making good reads with the blocking in front of him.  Starks has become a nice weapon in the screen game and is running with a lot of confidence.  Add in Lacy's big day and the Packers offense is going to force defenses to pick their poison if they can maintain this level of play.

Damarious Randall

I had to get a defensive guy on this list so it's one name longer than usual.  Dez Bryant appeared to have stopped playing hard well before the game was over but credit Randall with his coverage in this game.  Bryant had a few drops but otherwise had just one catch all day.  Cowboys quarterback Matt Cassel didn't even appear interested in throwing to Bryant most of the day.  Dallas's offensive play calling likely deserves some of this game ball too, but Randall turned in a good day and furthered his case for the accolades that he's been getting for his coverage this season.  

The Packers are hoping that Sam Shields is OK after his apparent concussion and that he can return, but Randall's play gives the Packers confidence that he can hold it down if Shields is out longer.  Randall has been on this list a few times this season.  For those Ted Thompson haters out there, here's a rare first-round gem that's making TT look pretty good this year.

Lame Calls

Micah Hyde

It's not really Hyde's fault that he's asked to cover a tight end, let alone Jason Witten.  But he's just not an effective cover back and the Packers need to realize this before it costs them.  At the line of scrimmage and as a punt returner, Hyde is reliable and steady.  He just can. not. cover.

Mike Daniels

Daniels didn't even show up on the stat sheet.  Add in the poor run defense by the team as a whole and you have a rough day for the big guy.  His tweet after the game was simple: "Gotta be better".  He's been solid for this team since his arrival in 2012 and he's rarely on this side of the conversatio, but this game was not one to remember for Daniels.

Run Defense

The Cowboys offensive line is much better than the Minnesota Viking's, but after watching this Packers defense bottle up Adrian Peterson a few weeks ago, I expected a better day against Dallas.  The pursuit and tackling were not great on this day.  Quinten Rollins dove at the feet of the ball carrier on a few occasions, which won't get it done at this level.  The Packers gave up 171 total rushing yards, including runs of 50 and 22 yards.  Were it not for a ball that was tipped (a ball that Dez Bryant should have caught for a score) and intercepted by Shields, the Cowboys likely would have scored following Darren McFadden's long run.  Teams are going to get yards on the Packers, but to see them giving up these long runs is troubling.  They face a decent Oakland Raiders rushing attack followed by two very good rushing offenses in the Arizona Cardinals and Vikings in week 17.

Penalties

Eight penalties for 69 yards.  Not Green Bay's worst day, but they have to clean it up.  As they see better offenses, fouls like illegal contact, defensive holding and pass interference are going to cost this team dearly.  On the offensive side, John Kuhn with a false start at home is inexcusable.  Bakhtiari, Bulaga and Sitton all had holds.  On the one hand, it keeps Rodgers from getting pounded.  On the other, they seem to happen when the Packers offense is right on the edge of field goal range, which is going to cost this team points.  Davante Adams had a hold in which he bear hugged the defensive back, leaving little to the imagination.  James Jones was blocking too soon on a screen, a mental error.  

Clean it up, fellas!

 

Others to mention:

  • Mike McCarthy took back the play calling and it seemed to spark the offense.  They ran different plays out of typical personnel, reducing the predictability.  The offense had 81 snaps in this game, much thanks to the effective run game.  Kudos for trying to give it up and focus more on other areas, but it's clear that McCarthy as the play caller is when this offense operates best.  I am still not a huge fan of giving Randall Cobb so many carries when both Lacy and Starks are hot
  • Randall Cobb nearly earned a game ball, but it was a crowded list this week.  He had eight catches and was the most targeted Packers receiver.  He benefited from a defense that had to focus more on the run game.  Here's hoping Green Bay can keep running well, as an open Cobb usually means great things for the offense.  Cobb also did his best to drag Lacy into the end zone on Lacy's long run in the fourth quarter.  Nice assist from 18!
  • Jake Ryan still looks a lot better, more active and communicative than Nate Palmer.  I still don't know what took so long to get Ryan out there.  
  • Similarly, why aren't we seeing more of Jayrone Elliott?  Yes, it was late in the game and Dallas was deflated, but a sack and a batted pass within a few snaps of each other are still big plays.  And Elliott tends to make his in bunches.  
  • Clay Matthews is still a beast.  Enjoy watching him play because if the Packers find a linebacker like him again in our lifetimes, we'll be lucky

 

On to a new week in which the Packers will try and get Ty Montgomery and Andrew Quarless active.  That can only boost the offense at a pretty good time.  

 

 

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Pulse of the Pack podcast.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (34) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RCPackerFan's picture

The biggest thing that I noticed with McCarthy calling plays was how much faster the offense seemed to get lined up and ready to play. They seemed to get the play calls in faster, and there seemed to be few miscommunication errors.

A lot of the plays that were called were just executed really well, but how much of that is the fact that everyone was on the same page? Perhaps by getting the plays in faster, they were able to all get on the same page faster.

WKUPackFan's picture

Fantastic observation RC! Give AR more time to survey the D and good things happen.

zoellner25's picture

Agree completely. MM got the plays in faster, we got to the line and snapped it quicker, and we held the ball for about 2/3 of the game. The Clements thing was just an experiment gone bad. We got 3 games to get it rolling.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Comments from the Cowboys Game thread on Janis:

Alright…contain Janis Let’s get a return.
who?
So much for that
Steve Trasker there is killing us
Not possible. Janis is unstoppable right now.
BLOCK 83!!
double him do something Lucky had space
why can we not block their gunners?
Lucky has no chance at all
Does anyone block Janis? Dude is like a heatseeking missile out there
Church can’t even play special teams.
Janis has made three crushing tackles
can somebody please block that white dude?
Janis is by far and away the best ST player in the league
would love him on our ST…
He is the new Steve Tasker
Sarcasm? I’ve hardly heard of him outside of today.

Sometimes I go to the other team's blog to see what they think of our players. Pretty high praise given to Janis in real time on the game thread.

WKUPackFan's picture

The only question is does the name Janis roll off the tongue as well as Kuhhhhhhhhn?

tm_inter's picture

I'd still like to see Janis given the ball in some offensive plays, like screen pass. With one or two strategic blocks, Janis would be gone - very few defenders, if any, can catch him from behind.

RCPackerFan's picture

yeah, I would like to see something designed for him too... A screen, or a Jet Sweep, or something like that. There is nothing wrong with trying to get the fastest guy on your offense the ball.

The thing with Janis it isn't just about his speed, its about his ability to break tackles as well. He is tough to bring down. Thats why I think a reverse or Jet sweep or something like that could be a good play for him.

WKUPackFan's picture

Excellent game! It's always fun to beat the Cowboys.

I wonder if MM and TT would tolerate a guy like Dez. Anyone who saw Dallas/Washington knew that Dez would be off yesterday. He was barely playing the entire game.

Dan Stodola's picture

Dez would not be a Packer People kinda guy. All about him, Thompson drafts team players. Probably never considered drafting him. Not a chance Thompson/McCarthy would hire a security detail to keep Dez out of trouble.

Amanofthenorth's picture

That TD pass to Starks was a fantastic play. I expect we shall see a lot more new wrinkles as the "Drive for Five" begins.

bears suck forever's picture

How about a little love for Sam Shields. He looked good out there.

dobber's picture

A lot of game balls, and justifiably so for a game the Packers seemed to dominate (outside of a couple long runs and an offensive lull in the third quarter). Give the Packers credit for playing physical football against a good defensive unit.

Here's the one dose of reality: if the Packers were playing a team with a credible QB (read: not Matt Cassell), this would have been a totally different game. The Packer D never really had to respect the passing game...and still gave up some big plays in the run game.

Oakland next week, and they play well at home. Carr is a credible NFL QB and he's got capable skill players around him. That's the test. Packers win next week on the road, and we can start talking about runs in the playoffs.

Razer's picture

Great overall effort. Can't say I agree with the Micah Hyde lame call. Played a solid game and kept the middle clean, particularly on the Witten front. Not pretty but effective.

I do wonder about our receivers not named 'Cobb'. Adams and Jones did not appear even on the blocking front. I think that Cobb caught, blocked and ran more than all other WRs combined. We need another guy to step up on this front.

Bohj's picture

Agreed on Hyde. There was two crucial third downs that his individual effort got us off of the field. This is when we were still only up by one td.

zoellner25's picture

Janis as the gunner is amazing. His speed is undeniable. Cobb had a great game. And the offensive line wasn't offensive yesterday. Great win.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Is it official that Shields just suffered a concussion? I was worried it was a serious arm or shoulder injury after the replay. The way he landed on it....

That might sound selfish of me (the just a concussion part), but I don't know how else to word it. I hope all is well with Shields.

Dan Stodola's picture

I thought for sure it was a shoulder injury. That looked really ackward the way he landed. I guess I didn't notice him hitting his head. Assuming it hit the ground. But definitely thought it was a shoulder on first look.

RCPackerFan's picture

I am with you Dre.

I have heard concussion. It did look like it would have been his shoulder or arm when he landed, but the one slow motion replay they showed during the game showed his head bounce off the ground. So I'm assuming that is when it happened.

Bohj's picture

I remember thinking when Shields intercepted that pass in the end zone.....get down....last time you had a concussion. And then....oh thank god...he didn't get a concussion...... And then......oh shit....he got a concussion anyways. No more head injuries shields. You've had two too many now.

Dan Stodola's picture

McCarthy needs to get a game ball for taking back the playcalling. Shouldn't have given it up in the first place, but good to have the offense back in the masters hands. Everything runs smoother on offense w/ him in charge!

RCPackerFan's picture

Couldn't agree more.

Razer's picture

I liked that MM gave up playcalling. His attention to defense and special teams has been good for the team overall. Problem is that he gave the playcalling to the wrong guy. It won't be too long before we are back to labelling MM's calls as predictable, conservative and all the gripes that people had last year. Of course, if the team plays inspired ball like yesterday and keeps executing it won't matter who calls the plays.

Dan Stodola's picture

I supported his decsision to give up playcalling, since I'm sure he knows what the team needed alot more than I do. But I definitely think he is "that" good calling plays that he needs to be doing it. I don't know of anyone else he could have given it to that might have been really good at it. Philbin might have in the past, but not in GB at the moment. I don't think Edgar Bennet is ready for that role. He would seem the only other reasonable candidate.

brewers_rule's picture

I agree w/pretty much everything that was said here. I do have to give credit to MM for taking over the playcalling & the nice job he did early on. Especially giving Abby more time than Adams which hopefully can lead to more fruits as these last games go on. However, I WAS wondering whether Dallas' D tightened up in the 2nd half or it was just our returning to issues in the passing game as we seemed to stall there after halftime. Still think Janis has to get in on some plays & bench Jones because the latter's offering nothing lately.

Also wanna give TT kudos for the 2 young DB's and LB he drafted. Kids have been stepping up when we weren't expecting needs at those spots going into the draft (funny how that always happens when I wanna get onto TT about his picks, or so it seems). Hopefully Sam the Sham Shields returns for us next week to shut down that underrated Raiders passing game because Carr & Cooper are no joke.

I share your worries about the run game giving up the huge plays. We bottled up AP once but if that trend continues (and the playoff scenarios remain in place) we could see him not once, but twice in Weeks 17 and the Wild Card rounds. VERY risky given his penchant for finding a way to break one like that with all the carries he gets so the defense better get better there soon.

Overall, nice game Pack. Keep turning that Titanic wheel back toward the offense we know we can put up & maybe we can ride this great defense to the promised land one more time.

mrtundra's picture

Larry McCarren made the remark that for the amount of playing time he gets, Jayrone Elliott sure makes the most of it. This guy is a keeper! It is too bad they are loaded at his position or he would be getting more playing time.

Dan Stodola's picture

I think they are bringing Elliot and Pennel along at the right pace. They have to be consistent in their approach if they want to get on the field more. Packers also have exams the players have to take each week and I have to assume that those exams aren't up to the Packers coaches standards just yet. But both of them are keepers and are coming along nicely.

lou's picture

I agree Dan, both have shown excellent potential, both needed more seasoning at the NFL level and Elliot needs more time in the weight room to hold the edge better (but has natural rush ability) had they both been thrown in the fire too soon the confidence level would have taken a hard hit. On the other end of the development curve is the fact that the two top picks this year in the draft look like they had starter written all over them. Hard to find a GM who can hit high in the draft and consistently enough on street free agents, most teams core players are draft choices 3-5.

Dan Stodola's picture

Elliot especially needs weight room work. I read he did little of it in college. Just relied on athletic ability. That doesn't work inNFL.

Pennel has the talent but was underachiever in college. Has to be disciplined and professional in his approach. Getting there just not ready yet.

Bohj's picture

I feel like I'm less concerned about the run D. We were able to bottle up Lynch and AP. It's like when we want to concentrate on the run, we stop it pretty thoroughly.

The big running games against us seem to occur when we're not worried about it. Like Denver. They were so worried about the pass, that they neglected to cover their gaps.

Dallas did not have a formidable running attack, so we didn't really pay attention. And really, outside of the three runs, they didn't do much else. Those were some big assignments missed. One by Matthews. One by Ryan. And a few flopping tackles by Rollins in support. Plus Pennel got moved off of the spot big time on one of the big ones.

I do like that play where Raji got so low...clogged the middle. Defines the low man wins the leverage battle. Good luck running up the middle with that body there.

Our D is playing well. And making great adjustments. Holding a team to 7 points in this league is amazing. Regardless of QB. And I'm sorry but an interception in the end zone counts as good D too. So don't discredit that.

PaulRosik's picture

That has been the Packers M.O. Smother the run for a while and then give up a 40 yard run.

Since '61's picture

I'm OK with the game balls and would add MM not just for taking back the play calling but also for doing an excellent job of it. The offense had a much better tempo and rhythm than we have seen for most of the season. I don't think that Hyde deserves a lame call. He made some big 3rd down stops that got the defense off the field by preventing any YAC. Overall a good solid win for the Packers, they won all 3 phases of the game. Janis was huge on punt coverage. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

Mojo's picture

Was able to replay a little of the game last night. I was trying to figure out what happened on the long McFadden runs and was able to get to the first one.

Among other things, it looks like Ryan got washed-out on that play. He started on the right side facing the offense and over pursued (while getting shoved in the back). He then joined fellow LB CM3 on the far left side of the play allowing no one covering on his cut up the middle -left (his right).

Not that he was the only one at fault, but Ryan went to fast and left an opening. Hope they point this out to him.

And Peppers may have a bad day, but on the long run he hustled downfield and fell on McFadden after Hyde took him down.

denniseckersley's picture

The Packers gave up 171 rushing yards, not 111.

They almost gave up 111 on that one drive in the 2nd half alone...

jasonperone's picture

I updated it. . I meant to indicate 111 minus big runs. Good eye!

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