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Shock and Awe in Green Bay (12/26/2012)
By Dave DeLano


     
Going into Sunday’s game, the Green Bay Packers had only lost once in the past twenty years when playing their regular season finale in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field. The winning streak extended Sunday afternoon as the Packers totally unloaded on the Tennessee Titans, ending in a lopsided score of 55 – 7.

Granted, the Titans are not a very good football team this year and have suffered a ton of injuries. However, the scope of the overall dominance the Packers displayed in all aspects of this game was truly amazing. The dominant victory comes with perfect timing as the regular season winds down and with the playoffs lurking around the corner. Last year Cheeseheads saw what can happen when a very good team doesn’t peak as the season winds down; this year is more reminiscent of 2010 when the Pack won it all.

As usual, Aaron Rodgers led the Packers’ offensive assault, passing for three touchdowns and running for another. One of Rodgers’ touchdown passes went to James Jones, who is quietly having a tremendous year. Jones leads the league with thirteen touchdowns and I think has only a single dropped pass all year. Rodgers is a master at game management and keeping an upbeat offensive tempo, and he was at his best against the Titans. The Packers also got a nice effort from running back Ryan Grant. Grant has a history of playing his best ball during late-season cold weather games. Evan Dietrich-Smith was inserted at center in place of the benched Jeff Saturday and it appeared to me the change was for the positive.

The Packer defense was simply outstanding, holding the Titans to less than 200 total yards while sacking their hapless quarterback seven times. Middle linebackers A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones led the charge. Mike Neal is really coming on now that some of his many injuries are subsiding. Rookie sensation Casey Hayward, looking somewhat Charles “Woodsonish,” attacked the Titans’ running game like I hadn’t heretofore seen. Hayward is making a strong case for defensive rookie of the year.

Even beleaguered kicker Mason Crosby showed hope and promise by hitting two out of two field goal attempts. True, one of those kicks “doinked” off the goal post, but considering the slump that Crosby has had, it was time to catch a break. Bad news for the special teams was the ankle injury suffered by all-purpose dynamo Randall Cobb as he was returning a punt. Cobb left the game and the extent of the injury is as yet unknown.

The regular season concludes next week when the Packers travel to Minneapolis for a rematch with the Minnesota Vikings. The outcome of that game has major playoff implications for both teams. If the Packers win next week, they will retain the second seed in the NFC and, thus, receive a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

The Vikings are fueled by the sensational running of Adrian Peterson. Peterson has a chance to break the all-time single season rushing record with a monster performance against the Packers.

The Humpty Dump in Minneapolis is a horrible place to play football games and there is no love lost between these two teams or their fans. The Packers have won the last five games against the Vikings and nine of the last ten. The Pack can run that streak to six in a row with an effort similar to that against the Titans.

D H D 

 

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