Even though they faced third-string QB Charlie Frye, the Packers’ win over the Seahawks was a resounding one that made a statement to the rest of the league: the Pack is back.
Throughout the season, Green Bay has suffered from seemingly endless injuries, and it’s shown. The running game has been shaky all year, the defense has been poor without Cullen Jenkins and Al Harris, and the passing game hasn’t been extraordinary due to Aaron Rodger’s sprained shoulder.
Against Seattle, however, the Packers seemed to find their rhythm, injuries, and all.
A running game which has been dormant all year (only one TD) continued to improve as Ryan Grant rushed for 90 yards on the day. Furthermore, Grant showed that his hamstring injury may finally be behind him, as some of his explosiveness and play-making ability from last season emerged at times during the game.
While Grant has steadily improved throughout the year, he has yet to have a breakout game. Based his most recent performance, however, Grant is going to get hot, and soon.
Defensively, the Packers made major strides, despite being without run-stopper Cullen Jenkins and lockdown corner Al Harris, both most likely out for the season. Against Atlanta, Michael Turner ran all over a Packers defensive line (ranked 27th in rushing defense) that could not begin to stop the run or the pass, as QB Matt Ryan was hardly hurried during the game, let alone sacked.
Against Seattle, on the other hand, Green Bay looked significantly better, as Aaron Kampman sacked Frye twice and Charles Woodson came up with a sack as well.
Speaking of Woodson, the former Heisman trophy winner now has an NFL best four interceptions on the season after he picked off Frye in the fourth quarter. The rest of the secondary looked solid too as Tramon Williams, who is filling in for Al Harris, sealed the win for Green Bay with an interception.
Despite playing with a third-string strong safety and a backup corner, the secondary finally looked sharp for the first time all year.
Finally, Aaron Rodgers continues to excel despite a shoulder sprain. Rodgers threw for 208 yards and two touchdowns on 21 completions in 30 attempts. Maybe some of Favre’s toughness wore off on Rodgers, who has played exceptionally while injured.
A win against Seattle was more than a win against an injured team playing with a third-string QB.
Yes, the Packers were able to win a crucial game, but it was how they won the game that made the biggest statement. Despite numerous injuries, the Packers looked again like a team that could become dominant in the NFC North. For now, it appears that the lowly Packers that lost three consecutive games have once again become a serious playoff contender.
Most importantly, for the first time all season, everything seemed to click for Green Bay, as the Packers were great on all sides of the ball.
The real test, however, comes next week when Indy comes to town. Green Bay won’t be facing any third-string passer, either, so the entire team needs to continue to progress in preparation for Peyton Manning and the Colts.
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