Four weeks ago the Green Bay Packers had just suffered a devastating loss to the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers which brought their record to 4 – 4. Some critics called for a new Head Coach and General Manager, but four straight wins have quelled the wolves’ howls. The Packers’ recent performance has vaulted them right into the thick of a play-off run with a 27 – 14 victory over the Baltimore Ravens Monday night.
On a crisp December night at Lambeau, the Packers’ defense was absolutely awesome holding the Ravens to 78 total yards in the first half. It is quite remarkable how much the defense has improved since last season. Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers has literally remade an awful defense last year into a unit that is ranked as the number one rated defense in the NFL thus far this season. That unit was in full display Monday night against a pretty decent Baltimore offense.
Aaron Rodgers hit two touchdown passes to lead the Pack to a 17 – 0 halftime lead. One of those was to tight end Jermichael Finley. Finley, who would later catch a second touchdown pass, is an awesome young talent and barring injury should be a huge weapon for the Packers for many years. He has the size, speed and athleticism to be a premier NFL tight end and Cheeseheads are just now witnessing the infancy of his career.
This game got a whole lot closer in the second half when the Packers got sloppy and miscues allowed the Ravens to climb back with 14 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter. The Ravens and Packers came into this game as the most and second -most penalized teams in the NFL. Not surprisingly, these two undisciplined teams combined for 23 penalties for an incredible total of 320 yards, which makes this game the second -highest total in penalty yards in the history of the NFL.
The stupidity of all the penalties should not distract Cheeseheads from celebrating the advances of the Packers’ defense and the amazing abilities of Aaron Rodgers and the emerging star Jermichael Finley. In the fourth quarter Rodger’s mobility and accurate passing led the Packers down the field on a critical 50- yard drive culminating with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Finley which sealed the fate in this game.
Cheeseheads can also rejoice with the play of three rookies who are contributing big time to the success of the ascending defense. Brad Jones, B. J. Raji and especially Clay Mathews all played large in this game and seemingly have nice careers ahead of them in Titletown. A.J. Hawk also put in a very nice performance. Hawk has stepped up his game this year and is one of many reasons why the Pack defense is rated number one in the league.
Next week the Packers travel to Chicago for an early game matchup with the Bears. The Bears are not having a good year, but they are 4 – 2 at home and the ancient rivalry always make the trip interesting. The odds makers should project a Packer victory next week as the Pack has a talent advantage and they are on a roll right now.