3 Takeaways from Packers' Week 3 Win
The 2021 NFL season has already brought us some memorable finishes. The season opened with a Thursday night thriller between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys. In Week 2, a track meet between Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson highlighted the Kansas City Chiefs-Baltimore Ravens matchup.
The 49ers scored the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute remaining, but Aaron Rodgers had one final drive left in him. The Packers took over with only 37 seconds remaining, Rodgers and Co. put Mason Crosby in position for a 51-yard field-goal attempt, which he nailed to win the game.
The Packers were embarrassed in Week 1 by the New Orleans Saints, but they appear to be rounding into form. On Sunday, they proved that they should be counted among the NFC's top contenders.
Here's what else we learned during Green Bay's 30-28 win over San Francisco.
Rodgers Is Back to MVP Form
Let's be perfectly honest. Rodgers was just plain bad in the opener against New Orleans. He finished that game 15-of-28 for 133 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. In the two games since, though, Rodgers has resembled the MVP that he was a year ago.
Against the Detroit Lions in Week 2, Rodgers tossed four touchdowns with no interceptions. He wasn't as prolific against San Francisco—he went 23-of-33 for 261 yards and two scores—but he was great when it mattered most.
Rodgers had less than 40 seconds with no timeouts to set up Crosby's game-winning field goal. He delivered 25- and 17-yard strikes on the drive with one incompletion and a pair of spikes on the drive to get it done.
Both completions were to Davante Adams, and his chemistry with Rodgers was on display throughout the game—Adams finished with 12 receptions, 132 yards and a touchdown.
While there may have been some (unwarranted) questions about Rodgers' approach to the offseason following the Week 1 loss, it's clear that he's all-in with this team and still one of the best signal-callers in the game.
Joe Barry's Defense Is Coming Together
Like Rodgers, the Packers defense struggled in Week 1. It allowed the Jameis Winston and Co. to rack up 322 yards of offense and five touchdown passes. For two quarters against the Lions last week, the defense again underwhelmed.
However, new defensive coordinator Joe Barry is starting to get his unit together. While San Francisco produced 353 yards of offense on Sunday night, it struggled to deal with Green Bay's pass rush. Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Oren Burks, Jonathan Garvin and Tedarrell Slaton all got pieces of Jimmy Garoppolo, who was sacked four times and was constantly under pressure.
San Francisco's first four possessions ended with three punts and an interception.
While the Packers defense is not a shutdown unit just yet—it ranks 24th in points allowed—it is trending in the right direction. If and when pass-rusher Za'Darius Smith is able to return, it should be even better. Smith was recently placed on injured reserve with a back injury.
"Why not try to get him as healthy as possible so we can have him more readily available, hopefully?" head coach Matt LaFleur said, per ESPN's Rob Demovsky.
If the Packers can consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks, they're going to be a tough team to deal with down the stretch. Rodgers and Co. are going to produce points, the onus to keep up will be on the opposition.
Mason Crosby Remains Clutch
Rodgers was not the only clutch performer late in Sunday's game. Crosby, who hit the game-winner, proved that he's still a difference-maker at 37 years old. He didn't deliver a record-breaking 66-yard kick like Justin Tucker did earlier in the day, but Crosby's 51-yarder was no gimme.
"As soon as I hit it, I was kind of leaning and then, as I was trying to get a visual on it to make sure it had the distance, nothing crazy happened and then I just kind of went blank," Crosby said, per Bill Huber of FanNation. "Took off running. Everybody else was watching. I was already going
Crosby, who made 100 percent of his field-goal attempts in 2020, is now a perfect 4-of-4 on the season. He's also made all eight point-after tries.
Green Bay has confidence in its kicking game because Crosby is playing some of the best ball of his career—which dates back to 2007, when he was a sixth-round pick of the Packers. When the Packers are trailing by three or fewer, they know they don't have to go the length of the field to win. Crosby is as clutch as he's ever been.