Aaron Rodgers tied a franchise record by throwing six touchdown passes Sunday, helping the Green Bay Packers defeat the Houston Texans 42-24. The Packers improved their record to 3-3 on the season and ended the Texans undefeated start.
After a dominating performance on the road against an elite team, are the Packers back on track to be one of the NFL’s best teams in 2012?
The Packers were a vastly improved team Sunday, especially on offense.
Rodgers returned to MVP form in what was easily his best game of the year. The Green Bay quarterback recorded season highs in yards (338), touchdown passes (six) and passer rating (133.8). The Packers were able to balance their attack with 99 yards on the ground. Second year running back Alex Green contributed 65 yards on 22 carries.
The Packers’ defense turned in a strong performance against one of the NFL’s top offenses. Arian Foster was held to only 29 yards on 17 attempts and Matt Schaub was sacked three times and intercepted twice. All this was accomplished without B.J. Raji, who was out with an ankle injury.
With the exception of a blocked punt that was recovered for a touchdown, the Packers’ special teams also played well. Randall Cobb was consistent in the return game, averaging nearly 30 yards on three kick returns and 7.7 yards on three punt returns.
Perhaps the most significant accomplishment for the Packers was limiting themselves to only four penalties in the game. Green Bay would be much better off if they could maintain that level of discipline each week.
Finally, the coaching staff deserves credit for preparing a brilliant game plan and adjusting well to injuries both leading up to and during the game.
The Packers have had their share of ups and downs in the first six weeks and their schedule doesn’t get much easier over the final 10 games of the season.
They will face the St. Louis Rams next week, followed by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals and finally a bye in Week 10. In Weeks 11 through 17 the Packers will play the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, the Tennessee Titans and another five games against divisional opponents.
The NFC is very competitive this season and a wild card spot could require 10 or even 11 wins.
With that said, the Packers still have a shot at winning the tough NFC North. They have already beaten the Chicago Bears, handing Jay Cutler and company their only loss of the season in Week 2. With five games left against divisional opponents the Packers sit third in the NFC North behind the 4-1 Bears and 4-2 Vikings.
Criticism of the Packers over the first five weeks may have been justified in some areas, but overblown in others. And while it’s difficult to judge a team based on one game, the Packers proved a lot in their win over the previously undefeated Texans.
If the offense can continue to dominate with the passing game and the defense can generate turnovers, the Packers could once again be among the best teams in the NFL.