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Raiders vs. Packers: The Aftermath

December 11, 2011

On a crisp December day in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the Oakland Raiders didn’t even bother to show up as the Packers crushed them by a score of 46-16.

Play Of The Game

The Packers defense set the tone early when linebacker D.J. Smith ended the Raiders’ initial possession by tipping the ball to himself and pulling it down for an athletic interception. The books will record a pick for Smith, but it was the pressure brought on by fellow linebacker Clay Matthews that caused the turnover. Raiders tight end Kevin Boss was embarrassed by Matthews’ speed on the play and the Packers outside linebacker got a hand on quarterback Carson Palmer forcing him into an ill-advised throw. The official record will read Matthews with the quarterback pressure and Smith with the interception, but Matthews’ on-field presence simply cannot be quantified.

Speaking of Smith, who along with Robert Francois started at the inside linebacker positions for the second week in a row, he collected tackles Sunday afternoon like Packers fans collect hangovers, finishing the day with a team-high ten tackles.

Forget Me Not

Ryan Grant looked, dare I say, explosive today. In particular, the Packers first official play from scrimmage showcased Grant’s first rushing touchdown of the season. Grant ran to his left and made one cut between a Scott Wells and T.J. Lang created hole for a 47-yard scamper. The play was also made possible by Jordy Nelson’s superb downfield blocking and Grant’s ability to make a defender miss. But credit the Packers forgotten running back who outran the entire Raiders’ defense on the play. As if on cue, Ryan Grant has found that extra gear that seems to come around every December. The former Notre Dame running back finished with 10 carries for 85 yards and two touchdowns. Not a bad day’s work for the 29-year-old running back.

Just Another Day At The Office

Even when the Raiders had 12 men on the field, Aaron Rodgers still was able to dissect their defense. On that particular play, Rodgers had two Raiders defenders in his face as he threw up a 37-yard pass off his back foot to a streaking Jordy Nelson who adjusted nicely to position himself under the ball to make a fantastic touchdown catch.

Rodgers continued to shred the Raiders defense until he was blindsided by Raiders linebacker Aaron Curry late in the first half. I’m not sure whether it was mental or physical, but Rodgers didn’t appear to be the same quarterback after the hit. As the CBS broadcasting crew pointed out, starting with the play in which he was hit by Curry, Rodgers threw four straight incomplete passes for the first time all season.

With two minutes left in the third quarter, Rodgers’ day was done. Already leading 43-7, the team went to backup Matt Flynn, and Aaron Rodgers’ final numbers read 17-out-of-30 passing for 281 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Down Goes Jennings

There are two players on the Packers roster that are irreplaceable: Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. Without either of those players, their respective units would cease to function at a high level. Right below Rodgers and Matthews, however, is the Packers top wideout Greg Jennings. And on the opening drive of the second half, the Packers lost Jennings to a knee injury. As the training staff examined the 28-year-old receiver’s left leg, he grimaced in pain and clutched a towel over his head. After the game, McCarthy characterized the injury as a “knee sprain” but the question remains of how badly the left knee is sprained.

Jennings wasn’t the only Packers player to leave early on Sunday. Running back Brandon Saine and defensive end Ryan Pickett both left with concussions. The usual tests will be performed, and both players will need to show no negative effects from the head injuries in order to play next Sunday.

Up Next?

The Packers travel to Kansas City to face a lackluster Chiefs team. At 13-0, the only thing standing between the Packers and an undefeated regular season is whether or not head coach Mike McCarthy decides to rest his starters at any point during the last three games. All the Packers need is one more victory, or a loss by the San Francisco 49ers, and the team will secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

In McCarthy we trust.

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