The Green Bay Packers inflicted a severe beating upon the Cleveland Browns Sunday by a score of 31 – 3. That would make it two weeks in a row that the Packers have thoroughly whooped a vastly inferior opponent, but this game had a couple of positive aspects which show positive signs for the improving Pack.
For starters, the Packers finally got a running game going against the Browns. It was clear from the git-go that such was Mike McCarthy’s intention. The Packers opened the game with 10 running plays and only a single pass. It took a while to get Ryan Grant going but the Packers generated some confidence by rushing for over 200 yards for the first time in a long time.
It didn’t take long though to get the Packers’ potent aerial assault into gear as Aaron Rodgers cut it loose in the first half, and with a pair of long touchdown passes the Packers took control of this game early. By halftime the Packers led 21 – 3 and it was all but over. Rodgers was spectacular and for the first time this year, he had good protection and finished the game with zero sacks. Rookie T.J. Lang, getting his first start at left tackle, held his own and I thought was an improvement over the error-prone and injury-plagued Chad Clifton.
The Packers also had no turnovers and improved their penalty-prone ways to “only” eight this week for 70 yards. To keep alive their “absolutely-inexcusable-boneheaded” penalties streak, this week the special teams put 12 players on the field on a fourth down punting situation, which allowed the Brownies a fresh set of downs. The Packers can get away with stupid penalties like that against basement-dweller teams like the Browns, but these will prove costly when playing more talented teams.
But the story of this game was the shut–down defense that the Packers displayed, holding the Browns to an incredible measly 139 total yards. The Packers rolled up 460 yards in comparison. A.J. Hawk played one of his better games as a Packer and Charles Woodson continued to perform at All-Pro caliber. Temper all this good news with the fact the Browns have an awful football team. Nonetheless, the Packers improved and performed well.
Now for the really big show…. Benedict Favre returns to Titletown next Sunday wearing a purple number 4. It will be an afternoon of mixed emotions for Cheeseheads, trying to reconcile the 16 great years of cheering number 4 in green and gold and balancing those against Benedict’s latest fantasy… playing for the archrival Minnesota Vikings. It truly will be interesting.
The Vikings lead the North division with a record of 6 – 1, but they could easily be 4 – 3 had it not been for a missed last second field goal and a Hail Mary pass. The Packers have the talent to prevail in this game and, I think they will, but it will take a combination of raucous crowd noise in Lambeau, a good game plan from Mike McCarthy and good execution by the Packers who should be all jacked up to prevent Benedict and his latest employer to sweep the 2009 series. Go Pack go!