What’s this? Another “Takeaways” post?
Two weeks in a row – I’m heating up!
Also warming back up – transitions are fun – are the Green Bay Packers. The Pack returned to the win column with a gritty, gutty 23-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at Lambeau Field. The win, coupled with the Chicago Bears’ overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks, puts Green Bay back atop the NFC North at 8-4.
Yours truly was at the game today. And here are my takeaways from the divisional showdown:
- On our podcast this week Adam and I both predicted a blowout win for the Packers, the latter calling it 41-14 in favor of the home team. I also said if it was anything short of that, you could start getting really worried about where this team was headed. I don’t necessarily feel that way now, though.
- That’s because once Jordy Nelson (hamstring) and T.J. Lang (ankle) left the game early on, this moved from “game you should win big” territory to “by God, let’s just hope they can eek one out” territory. Simply put, this team just didn’t have enough firepower today to blow anyone out, let alone a rival fighting for its playoff life. Getting a win of some kind, any kind, would have to suffice.
- Morgan Burnett – player of the game. It’s that simple. Two red zone interceptions on two really athletic plays. He’s been solid throughout the season and now it seems the big plays are starting to come, too. That could be huge down the stretch for a largely talented, but largely green, secondary.
- Of course, I saw his first interception on a TV in the concourse because God forbid the Lambeau concession people do anything quickly.
- What a human wrecking ball Adrian Peterson is. Seeing him in person, you can really admire the head of steam he has before he even takes the handoff. Yes, the Packers missed tackles. Yes, they took bad angles on him at times. But, really, a lot of what he did was just him being one of the greatest three or four football players on Earth. He damn near willed his team to a win today.
- That said, that’s two porous showings in a row from this run defense. That has to stop. Now.
- Speaking of great players, if there was any doubt Ted Thompson needs to hand Clay Matthews a blank check, there isn’t now. No pressure at all today. Again. That was pretty disappointing.
- With Don Barclay manning the right tackle spot in place of Lang, the Packers were really able to run the ball well. Maybe that now becomes the strength of this group. James Starks and Alex Green (combined 27 carries, 124 yards and a score) ran well, to be sure, but they also had holes and space to run well. Barclay looks worthy of some more playing time. Perhaps the Packers will kick Lang back inside (where he belongs as he is NOT a tackle) and leave Barclay where he is.
- In the odd chance Mike McCarthy is reading this – NO MORE HANDOFFS TO KUHN. Mike, this isn’t 2010. Those plays aren’t working anymore. Ditch them.
- What an absolutely rotten personal foul call on Tramon Williams. Someone needs to ask Ed Hochuli – a total clown of a ref by the way – what Williams is supposed to do on that play. Let Toby Gerhart catch the ball?
- In our podcast, Adam and I talked at length about Aaron Rodgers needing to be a little more like Brett Favre. If you missed the podcast, I’ll give you a second to calm down. Okay, we meant that he needed to not worry so much about interceptions. If a receiver was tightly covered and Rodgers still had a small window, he should still make the throw. He did that today. The touchdown throw to James Jones and the crucial third-and-12 conversion to Randall Cobb in the fourth quarter were both examples of that. Rodgers has big-time playmakers. Nice to see him let them do what they do.
- Of course, he also badly forced a deep ball on the Rodgers-to-Cobb-back-to-Rodgers play. Probably can ditch that play too, Mike. Minnesota didn’t bite on that for a second.
- Mason Crosby, slowly turning it around? Perhaps.
- Jermichael Finley, definitely turning it around? No question.
- With the Packers and Bears now tied, it sure looks like that game at Soldier Field in two weeks decides this division. Green Bay’ll need a whole bunch of injured guys back for that one. Not sure the Pack can win there with the group they have now.
- Lastly, it goes without saying, but if you haven’t been to Lambeau yet, you have to figure out a way to go. Times are tough for a lot of people, so sometimes that’s easier said than done, I know. But for all of you who haven’t, I really hope you’ll be able to someday. It’s just such an amazing place. Even if the concession workers are slow. I promise you won’t be disappointed.