The Packers won the coin flip. That was about as far as good things went for the Green Bay Packers as Sunday’s contest began with the Carolina Panthers. The Packers were able to rally for a 30 – 23 victory, but this was not a pretty game for Cheeseheads to watch.
During the first quarter the high-powered Packer offense only mustered a grand total of three plays. On the other side, Cam Newton was torching the Packers’ defense as the Panthers cruised to a 13 – 0 lead. Newton is a tremendously gifted athlete but it soon became obvious that he is also a rookie. Rookie quarterbacks tend to make lots of mistakes and such was the case as Newton and the Panthers started to commit turnovers.
In the second half Aaron Rodgers hit on two long touchdown passes. The first one was to Greg Jennings, which put the Packers on top by a score of 14 – 13, and the second was an 84-yard beauty to Jordy Nelson which pretty much sealed the game. In between those touchdowns was a ten-yard pass to Donald Driver, his only catch of the game. Driver’s catch allowed him to establish a new Packer all-time record for receiving yardage, surpassing the great James Lofton. Driver’s physical skills have diminished some with age but he is such a great person. It was a treat to witness him break the record.
The Packers played this game without the services of cornerback Tramon Williams, who was injured last week. His absence was felt as Newton had 400-plus passing yards. As the season progresses, the Packers are going to have to find a way to tighten up their pass defense. An improved pass rush would help and there were also far too many mental mistakes in coverage assignments. Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers will have to rally the troops next week as two more starters, Nick Collins and Ryan Pickett, left the Panthers game with injuries.
The offense, although scoring 30 points, sputtered a bit in this contest. At times the passing game looked out of sync against this mediocre opponent. Rodgers delivered the goods when he needed to though and there are better games yet to be played. An offensive star appears to be in the making with running back James Starks. For the second week in a row he got more carries than Ryan Grant and he looks really explosive.
The Carolina game could have turned out to be one of those so-called “trap” games where the Packers might have been looking past the Panthers, thinking about next week’s opponent, the arch-rival Chicago Bears. It turned out that the Packers got the win and ugly wins count the same as pretty wins.
The Bears got slapped around pretty good by the New Orleans Saints last week and, as always, it will be an interesting “Bear week” in Green Bay. No doubt the Bears will be smarting from the losses suffered to the Packers in the last regular season game last year and again three weeks later in the NFC championship game. The Packers will need to play better next week in Chicago to come away with three wins in a row.