By Mark Metzler
Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins was another example of the Packers failing to put away a lesser opponent early on. Still, the Packers outscored the Redskins, 20-15, taking the team’s record to 10-3 and maintaining a game lead in the NFC North. That’s important, but the win didn’t inspire a ton of confidence.
The Packers looked good coming out of the gate and quickly and convincingly built a 14-0 lead, but let the Redskins back in the game with Adrian Peterson scoring a touchdown to make the game 14-6. Despite that the Packers could have really put the game away at the end of the first half, but a fumble by Rodgers let the Redskins back in for a little while.
It was interesting to see how the Packers would come out of the half to see if the team could take control. They moved the ball down the field quickly behind Aaron Jones. Then, the dreaded fourth and one. This time, the Packers converted, and came up with a field goal. It was not quite enough, and the Redskins got within one possession with a Mason Crosby field goal near the end of the third quarter to make the game 17-9. It should be noted that Jones had another great day with nearly 200 total yards.
I was happy to see the team’s final drive, taking the ball almost the length of the field to set up another Crosby field goal. It is something to build on because Washington’s defense was better than I expected.
Much has been made of the Packers’ feeble return game, with the team going through several returners already. With that in mind, the Packers signed running back/returner Tyler Ervin. Ervin did well with punts, catching them and moving forward. On three successive returns, he set season highs for the team. Kudos to the front office for making the move.
The reason Ervin had so many chances is because the Packers’ defense played well, with a few lapses against the Redskins’ offense. The pass rush continually hassled Dwayne Haskins, who was troubled by ankle injury after a Preston Smith sack, one of many for the Packers. He didn’t look like a highly-touted pick and the potential savior of that team, as he was billed coming out of the draft. It’s hard to truly evaluate because of the injury, but it wasn’t for the Redskins because the team kept Haskins in the game instead of going with the capable backup Case Keenum. It was a puzzling decision, either stupid or courageous. I believe the reasoning for either is about the same. It depends on how you look at it.
My hope entering the game was the Packers would win convincingly to help get a little retribution for last year’s humiliating loss. The win wasn’t convincing, but it was a win. I was also hoping that the team would beat Adrian Peterson mercilessly. (Peterson actually played pretty well.) We all remember what he did to a defenseless child. So, because I believe in karma, I was happy to hear at the beginning of the year that Peterson was nearly broke after making more than $100 million in his NFL career. I’m hoping after his career is over that he will face the future he deserves. I do hope, however, that he makes just enough money to pay his child support.
Next week it’s the Bears at Lambeau. The Bears have been playing well and are still in the playoff hunt. Really, the only way they can make it is for the Bears to beat the Packers and the Packers to beat the Vikings in the following week. Then, it’s the Bears and Vikings in the final week. That could be a big game, and anything is possible. So, the Bears will be focused and fired up against the Packers. It will be an important test for the Packers. Frankly, the team will have to play a little better than it did against Washington to come away with the win.