GREEN BAY, Wis. — For much of this season, the Green Bay Packers have won with their remade offense only showing glimpses of what it could be.
The offense finally put it together Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, and the results were undeniably positive.
With a 42-24 victory, the Packers (6-1) prevailed for the third straight game without top receiver Davante Adams. They’ve positioned themselves to the point where they’re playing more for NFC seeding than a playoff berth, remarkable after only seven games. Best of all was how the Packers won, pulling away so much they were able to insert backup quarterback Tim Boyle late in the fourth quarter.
Here are five observations:
Without Adams, Rodgers’ best receivers at times were his running backs. He threw touchdown passes to Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. His top four wide receivers were a former fifth-round pick (Marquez Valdes-Scantling)) and three undrafted players (Geronimo Allison, Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard). Regardless, Rodgers had his best statistical game of the season, completing 25 of 31 passes for 429 yards, five touchdown passes, a rushing touchdown and a perfect 158.3 rating. Considering what the “V” in MVP stands for, Rodgers might start getting some consideration if this continues into the season’s second half. Hard to think of anyone more valuable.
An all-around back
While his playmaking can be dynamic, Aaron Jones has had much work to do on many of a running back’s ancillary duties early in his career. He showed a lot of progress Sunday as a pass catcher and, just as important, a blocker. A week after dropping a gimme touchdown, Jones made a tremendous adjustment on Rodgers’ first touchdown pass of the day, turning from his outside shoulder to the inside and securing the catch. Jones also had a key block on Valdes-Scantling’s 74-yard catch-and-run-touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Bend but don’t break
The Preston and Za’Darius Smith had a Halloween-themed sack celebration planned Sunday. They didn’t get to use it, contained by a Raiders offense that had allowed the fifth fewest sacks entering the game. The Raiders also moved the ball well throughout, with Josh Jacobs rushing for 124 yards on 21 carries. Oakland finished with 484 yards on 62 plays (a 7.8-yard average). But the Packers’ defense has shown one quality that it has lacked in the past. Even on days when it’s generating fewer big plays, it buckles down inside the red zone. The Raiders twice advanced inside the 5-yard line, and they failed to get points either time — the second a four-play stand from the Packers’ defense. Kevin King also had an interception in the end zone on a tipped ball by safety Adrian Amos. The defense should expect more than it provided Sunday. But if the Packers’ offense continues playing at a high level, that bend-but-don’t-break performance should be enough to win a lot of games.Get the 4th and Monday newsletter in your inbox.
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If you were expecting officiating to be any better after Monday night’s fiasco, well, you were wrong. Very wrong. Indeed, both the Raiders and Packers were the beneficiaries of highly questionable calls Sunday, though the Raiders probably left Lambeau Field feeling like they got the short end. They were called for two phantom pass-interference calls in the first half. At the end of the half, it appeared Kumerow stepped out of bounds at the 5-yard line, but the ruling of touchdown on the play stood. (Allison also clearly stepped out of bounds at the 3-yard line in the third quarter, and the initial ruling was a touchdown before being overturned.) Kumerow also got a phantom offensive pass interference call in the second quarter. Unlike Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who apparently hasn’t gotten the memo that these calls are almost never overturned via replay, Packers coach Matt LaFleur just ignored the poor call without throwing a challenge flag. In short, it appears the NFL’s officiating problem is going to get worse before it gets better.
Pro Bowl punter
It wasn’t his best hang time (unofficially 4.20 seconds), but JK Scott booted a 57 yard punt while standing inside his own end zone during the fourth quarter. With a holding penalty, the Raiders got possession at their own 42-yard line. That’s the definition of flipping the field, a 52-yard net. Scott entered Sunday ranked fourth in the NFL with a 48.6-yard average, and third with a 44.8-yard net average. Even on a day when he isn’t needed much, Scott finds a way to be a weapon.