Packers Insider: Green Bay finds cure for San Francisco hangover
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - In a get-well game to rebound from a brutal loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers beat the New York Giants 31-13 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
The Packers’ December schedule started off with what looked like an easy game on paper against a 2-9 Giants team. The Packers’ defense let the Giants hang around and continued to struggle with the same issue that has plagued them all season: giving up too many yards. Their bend-but-don’t-break tendencies ultimately paid off, as they held the Giants to 1-for-3 in the red zone. Additionally, they exploited quarterback Daniel Jones’ rookie tendencies and picked him off three times.
The offense bounced back from an abysmal 1-for-15 third-down performance against the 49ers and went 7-for-12 against the Giants with Aaron Rodgers in the game. They struggled to get Aaron Jones going on the ground and through the air, but wide receiver Allen Lazard showed up big with 103 receiving yards and Davante Adams had two touchdown catches. The victory started the Packers off on a positive note heading into the last month of the regular season.
On the receiving end: Since Adams’ return from a turf-toe injury that sidelined him for four games, his receiving yards have been inconsistent. Against the Los Angeles Chargers he had 41 yards, against Carolina he had 118 and against San Francisco he had 43. Unsurprisingly, the offense struggled in the games he wasn’t producing. Against the Giants, Adams finished with 6 receptions for 64 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers’ star receiver may not have put up the yardage he would have wanted, but he certainly contributed in the red zone.
Option 1, 2 and 3: The foundation of the Packers’ offensive identity can be found in running back Aaron Jones. In their three losses, Jones was quiet: He had a combined 34 carries for 89 yards (2.62 yards per carry) and a touchdown and seven catches for 36 yards. In their eight wins, he had 114 carries for 538 yards (4.72) and 10 TDs and 29 catches for 318 yards and three TDs. Against the Giants, Jones had 11 carries for 18 yards. He also had 4 catches for 13 yards. An underwhelming performance, but the Packers still pulled out the win.
Right is might: When right tackle Bryan Bulaga left the San Francisco game in the first quarter with a knee injury, there was some uncertainty surrounding his availability for the Packers’ New Jersey road trip. But, not only did Bulaga practice most of the week in some capacity, he played every snap Rodgers was on the field Sunday. He performed well on a slick surface and against a quiet Giants pass rush.
Swat team: While the Giants’ offense has been somewhat rejuvenated under rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, he has shown his inexperience in the turnover column. Jones had fumbled 14 times and lost 10 of them. Jones fumbled the ball once, but the Giants recovered it. However, Kevin King, Tramon Williams and Darnell Savage each intercepted Jones.
Packers redux: After their no-show against the Chargers, the Packers responded with a victory over the Panthers. Against the Giants, the Packers were tasked with avoiding consecutive embarrassments that would surely bring outside criticism about the team’s playoff legitimacy. Their 31-13 victory over the Giants wasn’t exactly a blowout, but it was decisive enough to stave off a hangover from the discouraging 37-8 loss at San Francisco.
The Packers wide receiver posted career-high numbers against the Giants. He finished with three targets and three receptions for 103 yards and a score. His longest was a 43-yard reception in the first quarter.
See, what had happened was…
On second-and-4 from the New York 4, the first play of the fourth quarter, Jones rushed for a touchdown. However, the score was waved off after tight end Robert Tonyan was called for holding. Tonyan made the extra effort to block the second defender of Jones’ run, but hooked his outside shoulder to draw the penalty. Although the touchdown was negated, Rodgers connected with Adams later on in the drive to put the Packers up 24-13.
Times the Packers have scored on opening drives this season, including Adams’ touchdown against the Giants.
Positive punt return yards from Tremon Smith, the single longest punt return of the season.
The Packers’ third-down conversion rate, a marked improvement after going 1-for-15 against San Francisco.
Quarterback hits by outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith on Daniel Jones.
Receiving yards for Allen Lazard, a career-high.
Next Gen stat of the day
Za’Darius Smith’s average yard separation from Daniel Jones. The league average is 4.5 yards.
Did you notice?
On second-and-1 from the New York 37, Rodgers faked play action to Aaron Jones and rolled to his right. Rodgers had about four seconds to make a deep pass to a wide-open Lazard in the end zone to break the tie and put the Packers up 14-7. The Giants’ secondary was in Cover 4, so there was no safety help. When Lazard cut to the inside of safety Antoine Bethea, the first-year wide receiver had an unhindered path to the end zone. It was his second of two wide-open catches in the first half. It was the same coverage that the Packers got burned on when George Kittle made a 61-yard touchdown reception last week.
Play of the game
On fourth-and-10 from the New York 35, Rodgers found himself under pressure from linebacker Markus Golden. While Golden attacked his feet, Rodgers managed to get the ball out to wide receiver Geronimo Allison, who made a contested catch for a 15-yard gain and a first down. The play kept the Packers' drive alive and it ended in a 17-yard Adams touchdown catch to put the Packers 24-13.
The Packers finished 1-for-1 on fourth down and 3-for- in the red zone.
Video of the game
Tweet of the day
The game broadcast superimposed lines and hash marks onto the snow-covered field at MetLife Stadium.
On the game broadcast, the hot mic picked up Rodgers shouting, “Big Dog! Big Dog!” before his touchdown pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis. "Big Dog" is Lewis' nickname.