Halloween has traditionally cradled surprises, but the Cheeseheads surprise of this year’s trick or treat day took place in New Jersey where the Green Bay Packers held the New York Jets out of the scoring column and came up with a 9 – 0 victory. Many pundits had the Jets power-ranking at # 1 and with their league-leading 5 – 1 record prior to Sunday, it truly was an amazing win for the Packers on the road.
The Pack came into this game as 6-point underdogs with four defensive starters out with injuries, so how did the Packer defense hold the Jets, fourth-best scoring team in the NFL, to a goose egg? Credit has to start with Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers for designing a brilliant game plan. Foremost in that priority was stopping the Jets’ potent run game, which they did. Standout performances were turned in by Tramon Williams and Desmond Bishop. Bishop is one of those players who has stepped in for the injured Nick Barnett and has played so well that it will be difficult to determine what to do with him next year when Barnett returns.
The Packers used a rare combination of field position and penalty-free play to maintain dominance in the first half. Often maligned punter Tim Masthay turned in a career day. Masthay’s eight punts were deep when need be and accurate at other times allowing the Packers great field position, exactly what is needed in an intense defensive dual.
Aaron Rodgers struggled with unusual passing inaccuracy. Perhaps it was the wind in the New Meadowlands Stadium because the Jets quarterback also had troubles throwing accurately. The opportunistic Packer defense was not bothered by the wind as they came up with two first-half turnovers which allowed the Packers a 3 – 0 advantage at halftime.
The second half was much the same as the first with both defenses playing very tough. A couple of big plays by safety Charlie Peprah, another defensive player filling in for an injured starter, came at critical times. Charles Woodson also came up with a key interception in the fourth quarter. That turnover, the third for the Jets, proved to be the backbreaker.
It is hard to figure why the Packers’ highly-talented offense has sputtered so badly this year. The loss of Ryan Grant was a nasty blow and then losing Jermichael Finley surely hasn’t helped but it seems as though the Packers’ brain trust has not adjusted adequately to the loss of these players. The Packers have to produce more points with the players they have left since it is highly unlikely they will win any more games scoring just three field goals.
Next up are the Dallas Cowboys who come to Titletown next Sunday for the evening game. The Cowboys had major aspirations this year and have disastrously underachieved. Cheeseheads have no tears to shed for the Cowboys and their arrogant owner as the bitter rivalry between these two teams goes back to the Ice Bowl in the late 1960s. The Packers have a good chance to take control of the NFC Central if they win next week and then have a healing bye week to look forward to.