It’s late, so let’s just save the opening for another time, shall we? I assure you it would’ve been genius, though. Okay, it would’ve been decent, at least.
On a snowy night at Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers moved to within a win of another NFC North title with their 27-20 victory over the Detroit Lions. The Packers are now 9-4 on the season.
Here are my takeaways from the triumph:
- If you would’ve been told, after Green Bay’s choke job in Indianapolis, that the Packers would rattle off seven wins in their next eight, how hard would you have laughed? And don’t forget – you’re also told the team will lose several more key players during that eight-game stretch. It’s a testament to the unwavering toughness of this team that it stands here now.
- And that toughness was tested early on, wasn’t it? After seemingly not taking Detroit (4-9) as seriously as it needed to, the Packers trailed 14-0, and new combinations of curse words were surely strung together in the homes of Packers fans everywhere. I had a few doozies myself. Luckily for us, this team didn’t blink.
- Seven plays, 59 yards, all runs, on the eventual game-winning touchdown drive. That’s imposing your will. That’s what you have to do to win in December and January. And, more than anything, that was damn fun to watch. Great to know that the team doesn’t always have to rely on the brilliance of Aaron Rodgers to win games, isn’t it?
- Nice to see all three running backs contribute on that drive, too. Alex Green (13 carries, 69 yards) has the ability to be the lead dog. We’re learning that more and more each week. If DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant (combined eight carries, 44 yards including Harris’ 14-yard game-winning run) can just chip in here and there, this team suddenly becomes really dangerous.
- Tramon Williams – listen, no one is ever gonna completely shut Calvin Johnson down. But holding him to a rather quiet 118 yards on 10 receptions is about as close as you can get. Perhaps this is the spark that gets Williams back to his 2010 form, when he was one of the game’s best corners.
- Welcome back, Sam Shields. Made a handful of big plays tonight, including an interception. He was having a really solid season before his injury and it looks like he’s picking up where he left off.
- An official welcome to the NFL moment for Mike Daniels. Way to scoop that up and rumble in for the score. That play really seemed to energize the entire team.
- Randall Cobb – just doing it every single week.
- Greg Jennings – where you at, man? Been a pretty quiet first two weeks back off injury. They need him to get going.
- How happy is Clay Matthews’ agent? It’s clear this pass rush is zip, zero, zilch without his presence. Only one sack and two quarterback hits tonight? That’s not good enough at all.
- If anyone was downplaying the absence of C.J. Wilson, they aren’t anymore. Green Bay’s run defense has been rotten since he got hurt against the Giants. Wilson alone doesn’t account for all of that, but he’s a huge part of it.
- When T.J. Lang returns, he has to be back at left guard. Don Barclay turned in another fine showing and deserves to be the right tackle going forward. The sooner Evan Dietrich-Smith is back on the bench, the better.
- Mason Crosby watch: The tanker ship in the sea of molasses is turning it around. Slowly. But it’s happening.
- Hopefully, Matthews and Woodson at the very least are back for Chicago next week. We’ll have to see about Lang and Jordy Nelson. Be great to have all four back.
- Packers. Bears. Soldier Field. December. For the division title. Admit it – that gives you chills, doesn’t it?
- After the Giants game, I wondered aloud if this team wasn’t just a tick behind the elite in the NFC, namely San Francisco and New York. I’m still not completely convinced the Packers are at that level yet. But these last two weeks have made me think they’re a little closer than before. Mostly due to the toughness and resolve this team has shown playing two divisional games extremely shorthanded. That’ll benefit them going forward. At the very least, I now think they can get to that level as long as they get enough of the injured players back with enough time for them to gel before the playoffs start.
- All in all, it’s fair to be excited. This is the best time of the year for football. And the Packers have a shot. That’s all you can ask for.