And Then There Was One. . .

Posted: October 17, 2011 by Kodi in NFL, Pack It Up

A.J. Hawk wants to remind you that the Packers are Number 1!

The Packers faced off against a St. Louis Rams team that has not won a game yet this season. . .

Green Bay is the last undefeated team in the NFL after their victory over the Rams and the Lions loss to the Niners

The Green Bay Packers welcomed the winless St. Louis Rams into Lambeau Field on Sunday with an opportunity to start the season 6-0 for the first time since 1965. The Packers went on to win the gamev24-3 and became the 7th Packers team to start 6-0. The Lions were the only other undefeated team in the NFL but with their loss to the 49ers the Packers are the last team without a loss. The Packers haven’t been the last undefeated team for 46 years.

The Packers 6th straight victory is part of a 12 game winning streak that stretches back through the Playoffs and the final two games of the regular season. Green Bay hasn’t seen a winning streak like this since the Lombardi days, specifically the 1961-’62 seasons. Mike McCarthy and the Packers are now 3-0 at home for the first time since 2002, when the Packers went undefeated at home but lost against Mike Vick and the Falcons at Lambeau during the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

The game had a slow start for the Packers offense, led by Aaron Rodgers, but the final three possessions of the first half resulted in TDs. The first points of the day came from K Mason Crosby who knocked in a 32 yard FG, his 17th consecutive, tying a Packers record set by K Chris Jacke in 1993. Rodgers found James Jones for a 35 yard TD, his third in as many games an achievement Jones had never accomplished until this year.

The Packers had a 10-0 lead when they stopped the Rams on 4th down at the 7 yard line to get the ball back. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers took advantage of former Packer CB Al Harris who was starting for St. Louis due to some secondary injuries. Harris is an aggressive CB and Rodgers wanted to expose his former teammate and did so when Jordy Nelson ran a double move.

“Obviously with Al being here, we know how he pays. He’s an aggressive corner. He’s a great corner. We gave him one step in to make it look like a slant, he bit on it, Aaron put the ball out, and I was able to split two guys and get in the end zone” Jordy explained after the game. It wasn’t just the double move that got Harris to jump but also a picture perfect pump fake by Rodgers that made nearly everybody bite. After that he hit Nelson who cut between the only two defenders around him and broke free for a 93 yard TD.

The play was a career long reception for Jordy Nelson and a career long throw for Aaron Rodgers and the 4th longest in franchise history and longest since Brett Favre hit Robert Brooks on a 99 yard TD pass at Soldier Field in 1995. Nelson now has two TD receptions of 80+ yards tying a franchise record held by teammates Greg Jennings (‘07), Donald Driver (’02) as well as former Packers Antonio Freeman (1998) and Billy Howton (1952). It is the 3rd career TD of 80+ yards but one might be surprised to read that Nelson’s second catch for 11 yards put him over the century mark for just the 2nd time in his career.

The Packers 3rd and final TD was a pass from Rodgers to Donald Driver in the end-zone and put Green Bay up 24-0. Rodgers finished the game 17-28 with 310 yards, 3 TDs and another tipped ball INT but finished with a QB Rating of 119.6. Rodgers is 4th in the NFL in completions (146), 1st in completion percentage (70.2), 3rd in yards (2,031), 1st in TDs (17), Tied for 1st in completions over 40 yards (7) and 1st in QB Passer Rating (122.5). Rodgers is firing on all cylinders and has thrown just 3 INTs in the first 6 games of the year but realistically just 1 was his fault because the other 2 came off his teammates hands before landing in the oppositions.

It doesn’t matter that the Packers didn’t score at all in the 2nd half because neither did the Rams and Rodgers explained “it’s a feeling of minor disappointment in that locker room” but the QB explained “it’s tough to win in this league. We’re still 6-0”. Green Bay has outscored its opponents 197-114 thus far and HC McCarthy has created a theme for this upcoming week “7 days to 7-0”. The Packers haven’t had a real challenge since the goal-line stand against the New Orleans Saints in the opening week of the season. Realistically that wasn’t much of a pressure situation in itself because the Saints had to score the TD and successfully convert a two point conversion and that still would have only TIED the game.

The Packers have won games decisively but they have given up a tremendous amount of yards defensively. Green Bay allowed Rams QB Sam Bradford throw for 321 yards, his second career 300+ game and also let Steven Jackson run for a season high 96 yards on 18 rushes. In all the Packers D gave up 424 total yards, 22 1st Downs and created just one turnover. That came when CB Sam Shields picked off a pass in the end-zone in the 4th quarter. Shields attempted to find a hole and create an opportunity to return the INT from the end-zone but was leveled by a Ram player and sustained a head injury.

It was the only TO that the Packers defense had on the day but brought their team’s season total to 14 in the first 6 games. The Packers have the 3rd most turnovers defensively in the NFL and the 2nd most INTs with 11 total picks. The Packers gave up a ton of yards but played solid ball when it counts most, in the red-zone. They forced the Rams to kick two Field Goals, one of which K Josh Brown missed, and the other appearance ended with Shields INT.

It seems that the identity of this Packers defense has been a bend but don’t break mentality and CB Tramon Williams explained “we’re not trying to live that way purposely, but it’s not going to be perfect every time. It’s not going to be pretty”.  Williams went on to say “it’s the identity of this team, of this defense, and once you get an identity, you have to ride that throughout the year”. The Packers defense clearly has it’s best games ahead of them but it hasn’t mattered how many yards were given up, rather the points. As I said earlier the Packers have outscored its opponents by 83 yards and their 114 points allowed ranks 7th in the NFL, accompany that with the best offense in the league an voila 6-0 and a great view from atop the NFL standings.

Finally we must get to the one finger salute that LB A.J. Hawk gave the Packers sideline after recording a sack in the 2nd quarter. “I guess it was on TV” Hawk admitted to a journalist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel but it wasn’t out of spite. “I definitely wasn’t mad or upset with anybody. It was kind of a running joke with a couple of my teammates. I got caught up in the emotion of the game” and Hawk really felt bad about the situation. “I definitely want to apologize to anyone who’s kids were watching and got offended or anything. I understand. I’m sorry that got out there” Hawk wanted to reiterate how it wasn’t malicious “it wasn’t meant to get out there for people to see”.

The most likely scenario is that Hawk’s teammates had been giving him a hard time for not recording a single sack in the 2011 season. He got that sack and his emotions got the best of him and he wanted to tell his teammates to “fuck off” and he had every right. Charles Woodson also recorded a sack and the Packers faithful finally got a sack from the coveted Clay Mathews.

Realistically the Claymaker has had an impact in every single one of Green Bay’s games but he has just 2 sacks on the season. He has however constantly been double teamed and has opened up opportunities for the other players attacking the QB. Clay has a lot of pressure on him because of the incredible first few seasons in the NFL but some fans need to realize he may not have the same impact in certain statistical categories as he did last year but that he’s still an impact player for that Packers D. Clay has the same sentiment but knows the sacks are on their way. “I’m doing my job. I can say that honestly, knowing that they ask me to put pressure on the quarterback, stop the run, put hits on them, do what I do, and they’ll come” Mathews said after the game.

The Packers are traveling across the border to battle the Minnesota Vikings in week 7 and they could be in for a surprise. They have a battered offensive line and are facing a team with the league leader in sacks, Jared Allen, but can’t play down to their opponents like they did last season. Green Bay needs to come in and prepare well, even for a potential QB change for the Purple, and execute their game-plan. They need to keep their foot on the pedal and if they happen to jump out to a 24-0 lead in Minnesota they can’t have a 2nd half like they did against St. Louis.




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