by Mark Metzler
Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders proved once again that football is a game of inches. Never was it more evident than at the end of the first half. As Raider quarterback Derek Carr reached for the end zone, the ball slipped out of his hand and went into the end zone, resulting in a touchback. Just a minute later, Packers’ wide receiver Jake Kumerow tip-toed into the end zone, turning what would have likely been a 17-14 halftime deficit to a 21-10 Packers’ halftime lead.
It was the difference as the Packers took the ball in the second half and continued on where the team had left off before the half, sparked by a long completion to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Essentially, the game was over then. The final was what appeared to be a lopsided Packer win at 42-24, but the game was much closer than that, especially in the first half.
Aaron Rodgers had his best day of the season and one of the best of his great career. He ended the day with five touchdown passes and 429 yards. He had a perfect passer rating, the first time in his career. He even ran for a touchdown. The game’s announcers pointed out it was only the third time in NFL history where a quarterback threw for five touchdowns and ran for another.
During the game it appeared that the offense was starting to hit on all cylinders. Rodgers hit eight different receivers, including touchdowns to Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, Jimmy Graham, Valdes-Scantling and Kumerow. When Davante Adams comes back – which could be as early as this week – it will be an offense that will need to reckoned with for the rest of the season.
Granted, it was hard to say how much of it was the Packers’ offensive mastery and how much of it was the Raiders’ ineffectiveness on defense. We’ll find out more on Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.
As you would expect against a Jon Gruden coached team, there wasn’t any quit in the Raiders. They kept fighting back and were eventually stopped for good at the beginning of the fourth quarter on the key fourth and goal with linebacker B.J. Goodson making the stop as running back Josh Jacobs tried to leap over the line. Goodson has played well since being acquired at the beginning of the season.
Now, with the offense playing better, it’s time for the defense to take it up another notch. I think it’s possible.
The Raiders are a good offensive team. They have some good players. Jacobs is excellent, Carr is in the upper half of quarterbacks in the league, the tight end Darren Waller is skilled and was impressive, and the offensive line is very good. Plus, they have Gruden, who is intense and an excellent play caller. They should be in the playoff hunt right until the end. I tell you what, I’d hate to have to play them in two years after they make additions to wide receiver and to the defense.
So far, the Packers have played seven good football teams and are 6-1. It is a good start to the season, and the team is improving. I’d really like to see the playoffs wrapped up before they play the red hot Vikings and the Lions on the road over the last two weeks of the season.
Next Sunday night will be interesting. They play a very good Chiefs team that will be without reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs aren’t a great defensive team, so it will be interesting and fun to see if the Packers continue playing well.