Image courtesy of Packers.com
Well everyone, I have a confession to make. It turns out I lied to you in my game preview. You see, in the preview I bemoaned the Packers’ sloppy play of late, and stated emphatically that they couldn’t play that poorly and expect to escape Detroit with a win. I was wrong.
Nine penalties for 80 yards. 1/3 on field goals. They put the ball on the ground twice, but were very lucky to have recovered both. Rodgers also threw an interception.
Don’t get me wrong, any divisional win is a good win. Not to mention, the Packers pulled out a victory on the road with plenty of starters keeping the bench as warm and crowded as public pool in July. Hopefully the bench was less urine-soaked than a pool, but I guess you never know, just ask San Diego Chargers kicker, Nick Novak.
On the topic of Nick Novak, do you remember who beat him out for the starting job at the beginning of the season? That’s right, it was Nate Kaeding, the NFL’s most accurate kicker. Unfortunately for him, he later suffered a somewhat minor groin injury, but it was enough for the Chargers to waive him, which means he’s available right now and healthy again, just waiting for another shot in the NFL. You thinking what I’m thinking? Apparently Mike McCarthy isn’t. And admittedly, Kaeding has struggled in the playoffs, but outside of Crosby’s fantastic season last year, he’s been mediocre for most of his career, and right now he’s the worst kicker in the NFL currently on a roster. Even if this is a repeat of 2009, where he had a terrible season but seemed to rebound the next year, is that really what the Packers want? A kicker who occasionally has terrible years but can follow them up with decent ones?
And kicking wasn’t the Packers’ only woe. The Packers had some very costly penalties, many of which were literally at the hands of Evan Dietrich-Smith, the new starter on the offensive line. Of course, the referees in this game were terrible, for both sides. Packer fans have seen some really terrible officiating this year, but I’d say this one might be the third-worst officiated game yet, behind the Saints game and of course at Seattle.
Now that I’ve aired my grievances, let’s talk about what did go right. First of all, my two favorite players for the year continued their streaks of being awesome. Of course I’m talking about Randall Cobb, who had the best hands on the field for either team, and Casey Hayward, who might honestly be right behind him. In fact, Cobb is so good that he might actually be hurting the Packers, as it looked like Rodgers was just trying to force the ball to him on his one interception for the day. Casey Hayward made up for it though with another interception of his own. These two are pretty clearly my Packers’ Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year so far.
And another guy who has been the opposite of my favorite player had a pretty redeeming game. Finley only caught three passes, but totaled 66 yards, and two of those catches were critical, including one touchdown. I won’t get my hopes up, but I think everyone wants more and quite frankly expects more games like this. Or at least, we used to expect games like this.
I also thought Starks had a good game. He only had 74 yards and a 3yd/carry average, but he fought for every one of those yards. I still anxiously await Benson’s return, as no other back on the roster has played like he was prior to the injury, but Starks is definitely a step up from Green. I still maintain that Green was the biggest waste of a draft pick in the past couple of years as he has yet to show me anything of value, but I digress. The Packers showed a real dedication to the run in this game, and if they keep that up once Benson is able to return, most likely around December, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a performance from him reminiscent of Starks’ performance during their Super Bowl run.
All of that is of course assuming the Packers make the playoffs. That’s looking pretty good after today, and a Bears loss tomorrow could make those prospects that much brighter. Things are on the right track, but the Packers still need to step up their play. At least, I would think so, but I’ve been wrong on that before.