by Mark Metzler
The late December snow at Lambeau Field was beautiful, and the Green Bay Packers played as well as they have all season in defeating a very, very good Tennessee Titans team, 40-14.
Usually, I don’t care for snow, but in Green Bay, it is welcome. I’m hoping for it through the NFC Championship game.
The Packers, and especially Aaron Rodgers, were ready for the conditions, and rolled to three early touchdowns, two passes to Davante Adams and one to Equanimeous St. Brown. Rodgers was on. For the game, Rodgers finished with four touchdown passes. Adams caught three. Rodgers also left little doubt who should be the league MVP. It should be him. No doubt.
But just when you thought the Packers would roll, they let down at the end of the first half and the Titans were able to drive for a late touchdown to make it 19-7 at the half. Then the Titans took the first possession of the second half in for a score. All of a sudden the game was 19-14.
Then, Aaron Jones cracked off a 59-yard run, and Rodgers connected with Adams for Adams third touchdown. Essentially, the game was over.
Derrick Henry, who is my favorite player who isn’t a Green Bay Packer, was stuffed for the most part by the Packers, especially in the first half. The Packers focused on Henry and dared Ryan Tannehill to pass. It was a good game plan by defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. That was a nice change. Pettine’s schemes are often suspect.
In A.J. Dillon, the Packers had their own running back doing a Henry impression. Dillon, who has underperformed all season, took on a good deal of the work with Jamaal Williams out of the game with an injury and Aaron Jones fighting in-game injuries. Dillon looked good in the snow going north and south. He ended up gaining 124 yards on 21 carries, including a nice 30-yard touchdown run and another touchdown to seal the win.
Dillon’s only issue was with the Lambeau Leap. He didn’t have the vertical to get up on that wall the first time, and made it the second time with a boost from wide receiver Allen Lazard. The leap is hard. You can try it at the Packers Hall of Fame – at least you used to be able to try it. It’s probably still there.
Jones finished with 94 yards on 10 carries, taking him over 1,000 yards for the season. The game saw Corey Linsley’s return as center. Linsley is the best center in the NFL. That allowed Elgton Jenkins to move back to left guard. I was a bit surprised that Billy Turner started at right guard instead of Lucas Patrick, and that Rick Wagner started at right tackle instead of Turner. That line played great, but Wagner was hurt halfway through the third quarter, and Patrick came in. That line played well, too. I hope that Wagner is OK.
Jenkins and left tackle David Bakhtiari were named to the Pro Bowl team this year, as were Rodgers, Adams, Jones, cornerback Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith. Had Linsley not been injured, he would have made the Pro Bowl. Packers fans thought Robert Tonyan should have made the Pro Bowl, as well. He probably should have been given the honor. He’s had a nice season.
To get the top seed the Packers will need to defeat the suddenly red-hot Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday. With a win, the Bears will get a playoff bid, something that no one thought possible when the Bears got demolished by the Packers a month ago. So, the game really does mean something for both teams, and Bears will be playing their best. It should be interesting. Here’s hoping for a Packers win Sunday and through the playoffs. Running through Lambeau will be a big advantage.