Green Bay Packers Week 13 Report Card: Grading Each Unit
It wasn't perfect, but the Green Bay Packers are 12-0 after a heart-stopping 38-35 win over the New York Giants, where Aaron Rodgers and the high-powered offense were able to cover for the many mistakes by their defense, and they pulled out a close win on the road against a tough team clinging to its playoff hopes.
Offensively, the Packers sputtered a bit at times but made plays when it counted, putting up big numbers once again. Defensively, this might be one of the worst performances yet, with the exception of a couple of big plays by Clay Matthews.
Here is my report card for each unit of the Packers after their performance against the Giants, as well as a few individual standouts that get high marks on the week.
It's hard not to give an offense high marks when it puts up 38 points and goes on a brilliant drive in 51 seconds to win the game in the fourth quarter. However, there were a few bumps in the road, even on offense, where the running game struggled and the offensive line had trouble containing a stout Giants defensive line for much of the game. In addition, the Packers receivers dropped some key balls in the game.
However, in many ways, Aaron Rodgers covered up the issues for all of these deficiencies as he ran the ball quite effectively on his own and was able to scramble away from pressure frequently when his offensive line failed him.
And by the end of the game, when it mattered most, the offense clicked, particularly Rodgers and his receivers, who made critical, spectacular catches in the fourth quarter to keep the Packers on top.
Despite a few weaknesses, the Packers offense was just good enough to win this game and, more importantly, was good when it mattered most.
Running backs: B
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A-
Offensive Line: B
The defense continued its struggles in this game, allowing the Giants offense to roll up 35 points on them. And unlike other games this season where the defense struggled at times but made a key stop at the end of the game to win it, the defense did very little this week to contribute to the Packers' win.
Perhaps the best player on defense this week was Clay Matthews, who recorded an interception return for a touchdown and a forced fumble—both in the second quarter—that allowed the Packers to hold their narrow lead.
However, the defensive line was not able to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback, and the secondary did not match up well to the Giants' receivers. In addition, a beat-up linebacking corps was not able to rise above its injuries and performed poorly as well.
This year, the Packers defense has had good games and bad games, and this would certainly be in the latter category. However, it is unclear how much of a concern this should really be, as long as the defense gets more healthy. And considering the weak offenses the Packers have to match up against in the coming weeks—the Raiders, Chiefs and Bears, all teams that are struggling with new quarterback situations—that's something this veteran defense should be able to take advantage of.
Defensive Line: C-
Special Teams: A
With the exception of a missed Mason Crosby field goal at the end of the second quarter, the special teams was very solid in this game. Punter Tim Masthay pinned the Giants deep in their own territory several times, and kick returner Randall Cobb made a couple of big returns.
And, of course, Crosby more than made up with his missed field goal at the end of the second quarter by kicking the game-winning field goal at the end of the game.
Kick/Punt Returner: A-
Aaron Rodgers is easily the MVP of this game after a magnificent drive to win the game for the Packers. Despite a couple of bad throws, including an interception early in the game, he threw for four touchdowns and set up the game-winning field goal with a perfect, clutch final drive.
Other standouts include Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson, two receivers who made unbelievable catches in the fourth quarter to keep the Packers' drives alive, putting them in a position to win.
On defense, Clay Matthews gets high marks of the day for an interception returned for a touchdown and a forced fumble right before the half.
And, of course, Mason Crosby stands out for making the game-winning, 30-yard field goal. No matter how short the field goal was, it's always impressive to see a kicker pull through on a pressure-packed kick.