Green Bay Packers: Five Things We Learned from Sunday Night's Game
Without further ado, here are five things we learned from Green Bay's trip to Atlanta:
Offensive Line Still a Work in Progress
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People get injured, so I'm not buying the excuse that Bulaga and Clifton weren't playing. Giving up four sacks to quarterback Aaron Rodgers is simply inexcusable at this point.
The first four weeks of the season, the offensive line played OK, but took a step back against an Abraham-less defense by giving up four sacks.
This needs to stop. Period. Rodgers has already been sacked enough times for his career, and it doesn't help that he's already suffered two concussions.
I'm tired of talking about offensive line woes.
Mason Crosby Had a Good Game
I'm not sold on kicker Mason Crosby. Not even close. But give credit where credit is due, and Crosby certainly deserves some here.
Typically Crosby will crumble under the pressure, and hit the upright. But trailing the Falcons, 14-6, in an extremely hostile environment, Crosby kicked a 56-yard field goal like it was nobody's business.
Snap, placement, dead center field goal.
More of that, please.
With a kick like that, and hitting all four of his field goal attempts, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that had to be the best kick and the best performance of his career.
Aaron Rodgers Making Headway
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Not only is Rodgers only 150 yards behind the league's No. 1 passer Tom Brady, which he previously was 300 yards away earlier in the year, he passed for his 100th and 101st touchdown.
With each passing game, Rodgers further excels himself ahead in the MVP race. New England's Brady already has six picks, Philadelphia's Michael Vick's team is 1-4 and he's thrown seven interceptions, New Orleans' Drew Brees has thrown five picks (and that guy's asked to throw the ball a lot more than Rodgers anyways) and San Diego's Rivers just isn't having a good year.
And for what it's worth, Rodgers now has a lifetime passer rating of 100.9, by far the biggest in NFL history.
This wasn't his most memorable performance. In fact, it probably wasn't even his most memorable moment in Atlanta. But he still put on one heck of a show, and took one gigantic leap in terms of what he's accomplished so far in his career.
Pass Defense Drastically Improved
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The Packers' ability to stop the pass seemed questionable at best so far this season.
But after allowing only 200 (legit) yards to Denver's Kyle Orton last week and then allowing only a total 167 passing yards to Matt Ryan, who had two legit receivers, it speaks volumes of just how well the secondary has picked up.
Safety Charlie Peprah seems to be settling into his position better after giving up a ridiculous play to the Chicago Bears in Week 3.
Sam Shields especially turned a corner in this game. The Falcons took multiple long shots at him and he never let them get away with it.
All things considered, this definitely has to be the best defensive performance by the Packers so far this season.
The Run Game Can Be Stopped
So far this season, either Ryan Grant would have a good game, or James Starks would have a good game. When one was injured, or just having a bad game, the other would step up to the plate.
Not this time.
Starks and Grant had a combined total of 58 rushing yards. That was on 19 carries for an average of three yards a carry. Oh, and Grant fumbled the ball early in the game that gave Atlanta a 14-0 lead.
I'm not panicking here, the run game is probably the best it's been since Rodgers took over. But it took a step back on Sunday Night.
Conclusion: Packers Won an Important Game
The Atlanta Falcons knew how important this game was. If the Green Bay Packers had lost, they would be 4-1 and the Falcons 3-2, and it would keep the Falcons in contention for the first seed.
Not only were there deep feelings about their loss from their previous meeting in the postseason, not only were they a team desperate to stay in the race within their own division, but they simply know that playing and beating the Packers at Lambeau Field (they're a dome team remember) seems like an impossible task.
For reasons regarding the past, present and future, the Falcons simply needed this win, and the Packers proved to be the better team. For that reason, I really can't complain about the ugliness of the game.
The Packers won against a very, very desperate team.