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Packer Partisan (09/17/2008)
By Dave DeLano

Rogers Exceeds Expectations as Packers Manhandle Lions

Aaron Rodgers took a second giant step in reinforcing confidence in the Nation of Cheese that he is a worthy heir as the leader of the Pack. On Sunday he led the Packers to a 48 -25 victory over the Detroit Lions. Rodgers has gracefully handled extraordinary pressure in replacing Brett Favre this year, but even the sharpest critiques of the Favre exodus from Green Bay would have to agree that Rodgers’ performance to date has far exceeded expectations.

The Pack started this game like gangbusters scoring three unanswered touchdowns with passes by Rodgers to James Jones, Donald Driver and rookie Jordy Nelson. It looked too easy for a while and indeed it was. The first half belonged to the Pack as they cruised to a 21 – 3 halftime lead.

The third quarter brought some complacency for the green and gold. The Packers’ offensive line is still banged up and minus two starters. Those remaining unfortunately could not get the running game going against an underwhelming Lion defense. It was a bit reminiscent of last year’s early struggles; there just wasn’t a whole lot of blocking done at the line of scrimmage.

The Packers’ defense and their special teams units also got sloppy in the second half. Punter Derrick Frost let a snap slip right between his hands causing a safety. Jarrett Bush’s boneheaded penalty negated a long return by kick returner Will Blackmon, and the Packers’ secondary allowed Detroit’s talented receiver, Calvin Johnson, to take in two touchdown passes in a short period of time. The combination of the above allowed Detroit to take a 25 – 24 lead with just seven minutes to play.

No worries though as it was the Packers that made the key plays when the game was on the line. Rodgers hit Greg Jennings on a short pass. The electrifying Jennings turned it into a 60-yard gain. Mason Crosby kicked a field goal to retake the lead and then the defense took over. Savvy veteran cornerback Charles Woodson picked off a telegraphed pass that was quickly followed-up by a touchdown run by Brandon Jackson. Woodson then picked off another telegraphed pass on the Lion’s next possession that he ran back for a touchdown, and Nick Collins did the same a few minutes later.

A couple observations from this game: 1. Mason Crosby has a very powerful leg. Driving kick-offs into the end zone for touch backs is a huge plus for the Packer defense. 2. Aaron Rodgers has very quick feet. His foot speed is most effective evading pass rushers, but he can also make plays on scrambles. 3. Jarrett Bush has to go. Whenever his number is called, something bad happens. Ted Thompson needs to make the decision and the sooner the better.

The Dallas Cowboys are up next for the Pack and what a great challenge this will be on national television next Sunday night at Lambeau. Many pundits predicted the Cowboys would be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl this year. The young Packers have the talent to win this game if they bring their “A” game.



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