Who Said They Were Down? Green Bay Packers Rout San Francisco 49ers, 34-16
Who said they were down and out?
With a 7-4 record entering into Sunday's matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in Green Bay, the Packers took the field to an overly excited chorus of applause this afternoon, as Aaron Rodgers and company prepared for Mike Singletary's determined offense in a crucial end of season game.
Fresh off a tough loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 12, the Packers looked to rid any lingering jitters early with some bursting offensive play, that was then unexpectedly met with a standing 49ers defense and a handful of Packer mistakes.
Midway through the first quarter, nails were no doubt being chewed in the old school stands of Lambeau Field. The Packers biggest rival, penalties, came back to haunt Mike McCarthy's team in the first half, and when a number of neutral zone infractions cost the Packers some serious yardage, it was clear that Green Bay were still mildly rattled from their trip down South over a week ago.
What wasn't shaky for the Packers in the first half, however, was the run game. It may seem uncharacteristic of Green Bay this season, but after Brandon Jackson caught a short screen route and ran it down to the one-yard line, John Kuhn finished the job by putting the Packers up by a touchdown.
Unluckily for Mike McCarthy, the fat lady hadn't sung just yet.
Will the Packers make the playoffs in 2010?
That is until Donald Driver stepped up to the plate.
Clinching to a one-point lead heading into the half time break, the 49ers looked to be the more confident team following a dazzling Vernon Davis catch for a touchdown, that was inspired by Troy Smith's evasive pocket presence seen throughout the game.
Fortunately for Green Bay, yet another of their numerous saviors provided a much-needed lifeline, and when Aaron Rodgers launched a rainbow pass to Donald Driver for 61 yards and some "pillar to post" style running after the catch, the Packers quickly found themselves with a minor scoreboard cushion early in the third quarter.
The events to follow were a mirror image of Green Bay Packer football we have come to expect this season.
Following Driver's Lambeau Leap into a cold but welcoming crowd, the Packers then took to the defensive front, to provide a stand against a resilient 49ers offense. How did that wind up? Quite well, considering the Packers managed to limit quarterback Troy Smith to a mere 194 yards and one touchdown on the day.
Next up to the plate, was Greg Jennings.
As far as MVP-type seasons go, No. 85 is far from in the discussion, but at the same time the Packers leading wide receiver managed to cap off his second touchdown pass in the third quarter, and also stretch the Packers lead to 31-16.
Impressive from the Packers? It certainly was, although a few minor kinks still stood out throughout the game.
As long as we are focusing on the positive though, the fact that the Packers run game is showing the slightest form of life is a promising sign heading toward the end of December. With the New England Patriots awaiting in two weeks time, the Packers will need an entire team effort if they are to take down one of the NFL's best.
New to the starting roster, running back James Starks rushed for 73 yards on the day and it was nice to see Green Bay utilize their depth. Aaron Rodgers himself added 39 rushing yards to his day, and if the ground game can pick up in Ryan Grant's absence, it will add a third-dimension to an already threatening team.
Special teams on the other hand, well let's just say problems remain to be solved. Kicker Mason Crosby botched a chip shot early in the first quarter, one of the Packers many early game problems that looked destined to cost them a win.
Yet at the same time, they say good teams find a way to fight back in the face of adversity, and the Packers showed some grit and determination on Sunday.
An 8-4 record now remains with Green Bay, and now that a trip to the Detroit Lions in Week 14 lays ahead, the Packers must continue to build momentum if they are to catch the red hot Chicago Bears in the NFC North.
Sunday may have marked the start of a special playoff run, and since Green Bay have beaten the 49ers eight straight times in recent years, the Packers latest wins puts them back in the hunt with four weeks remaining.
Throwbacks on and all a dark blue seen throughout the entire stadium, if one thing is for sure, Week 17's matchup against the Chicago Bears is sure to be interesting.
Nothing but happiness remains in Green Bay right now, and the sight of Aaron Rodgers' 298 yards and three touchdowns only further widens the smile. Greg Jennings' two touchdown catches, Donald Driver's effort and the demeaning defense still has a ways to go, but Green Bay aren't calling Houston with a problem just yet this season.
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Ryan Cook is an Australian Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters, plus a contributing writer for Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Generation Y Sports.
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