Packers vs. Chargers: The Aftermath
The Packers fended off a late Chargers comeback to hold onto a 45-38 victory in San Diego on Sunday afternoon.
Action, Excitement, and Anxiety
For Packers fans, it’s never easy. The game started out with plenty of action for both teams as the Chargers took the opening drive right down the field to take an early 7-0 lead, but after Aaron Rodgers and company answered with a touchdown of their own, the Packers defense provided some excitement with two interceptions returned for touchdowns on two consecutive drives. The emotional rollercoaster continued as the Chargers fought back to bring the game within four points after an eight-yard Mike Tolbert touchdown run and kicker Nick Novak added a field goal. A beautiful back-shoulder throw to Jordy Nelson closed out the half with another touchdown for the Packers, but following Mason Crosby’s twenty-second consecutive field goal in the third quarter, the Chargers answered with an Antonio Gates touchdown catch. Aaron Rodgers appeared to put the game away with two consecutive touchdown drives early in the fourth quarter, but the Packers defense was sieve-like as Phillip Rivers and the Chargers offense scored twice in just over four minutes. With the Packers offense only able to muster one first down in the final ten minutes of play, it was the much-maligned defense that came up with a game-ending interception to end the anxiety for Packers fans.
A Broken Record
I realize that I write these words every week, but Aaron Rodgers is unreal. He only missed on five passes all day, finishing 21-for-26 for 247 yards and 4 touchdowns. Factor in the rainy conditions and the fact that he isn’t throwing many easy, short passes, and there is no one in the league that is even close to his level. His 64-yard pass to Jordy Nelson in the fourth quarter was magnificent. Rolling out to his right, Rodgers willed the ball on pure arm-strength 50 yards in the air. Add in his beautiful back-shoulder throws, and he is simply unstoppable. Speaking of the offense, the number of drops by the wide receivers seems to have lessened. Either Rodgers is demanding more from his receiving corps or receiver coach Edgar Bennett knows a thing or two about focus and ball security. I’m guessing it’s a bit of both.
Good Peprah, Bad Peprah
The Packers knew that replacing Pro Bowler Nick Collins wouldn’t be easy, and having a more than capable backup in Charlie Peprah has proven to be invaluable. However, with Peprah comes the good and the bad. Desmond Bishop handed Peprah a gift of a tipped ball in the first quarter and Peprah finished off the play with a zigzagging 40-yard return for his first career touchdown. But later in the game, the sixth-year veteran out of Alabama blew two different deep coverages on Vincent Jackson that resulted in big plays. Alas, Peprah had the last laugh, and ended the game with an interception to seal the victory for his team. He was rightfully excited to come up with the big play, but what ever happened to just going down and ensuring the victory after an interception? There’s just no reason to run that ball back. Just ask Sam Shields…
Another Day At The Office For The Offense…About That Defense
Watching Mike McCarthy work in the first few quarters is like watching an artist work a canvas. A near-perfect mix that keeps the defensive coordinator guessing, McCarthy knows how to run an offense. His fourth quarters lack that same gusto at times, but he always seems to get the job done. In particular, McCarthy masterfully used pre-snap motion in the first quarter to isolate single coverage on Jermichael Finley, and by the time Chargers safety Eric Weddle figured out what was going on, it was already too late and Finley was in the back of the end zone spelling out his Y-O-T-T-O celebration.
As good as the Packers offense has been, the defense has been less than spectacular. I cannot seem to put my finger on exactly what is different from last season, but Dom Capers has to figure out how to garner a pass rush. Was Cullen Jenkins that good or are teams figuring out how to wear down B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews? I noticed Raji laboring in the fourth quarter, and Matthews stayed in the game despite a slight limp, but credit Norv Turner’s offense for moving bunch formations, motion, and multiple receiver sets over to Clay Matthews side of the field and forcing the outside linebacker into coverage. Erik Walden continues to benefit from the attention paid to Matthews, but the defense has to find a way to pressure the quarterback on a consistent basis. As my father said in our weekly post-game chat, “This isn’t a championship defense.”
One Last Thing…
I counted at least two Chargers linemen mocking Aaron Rodgers’ championship belt. I understand being fired up after a big play, but are you so unoriginal that you cannot come up with your own celebration? Further, you might not want to mock the guy who lit you up for 4 touchdowns, and ultimately, the victory.
The Packers return home to Lambeau Field for a divisional match up against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football. The Vikings are coming off of a bye week following quarterback Christian Ponder’s first career victory, who will certainly be eager to show that his performance against the Packers in week seven was no fluke.