by Mark Metzler
The Packers weren’t perfect, but the Los Angeles Rams were simply inept on Sunday. The Packers capitalized on a ton of Rams’ mistakes to win 36-28 in a game that could have been a blowout.
The key again was the start of the second half. With the score 20-17, the Packers came out and drove almost eight minutes to take the game to 27-17. Then a three and out, a stop by the Rams and a fumbled punt, that the Packers converted into a field goal.
There were a lot of big plays to go around, including long passes from Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. A.J. Dillon did a great job running the ball. He’s punishing. The play that sealed the deal was Rasul Douglas’ interception of a Matthew Stafford pass that took the score to 36-17. Douglas really has been outstanding for the Packers since they picked him up early in the season.
The Packers were able to turn most of the Rams’ mistakes into points — not always touchdowns, but at least they were able to convert some short field goals. It was a shame to see Mason Crosby miss his last field goal attempt. He needed the confidence. It’s got to be tough mentally to be a kicker, especially when you’ve missed a lot, as Crosby has done this year.
The game started with a big play as Rashan Gary strip-sacked Stafford. The key right before that was Matt LaFleur’s decision to punt instead of attempting a long Crosby field goal. That pinned the Rams and led to the fumble. Then Rodgers scored on a touchdown run — broken toe or COVID toe or whatever toe he had Sunday — circling the right end. Like many Packers fans, I really don’t care for Joe Buck, but I did think what he said about Rodgers toe was funny. He detailed how Rodgers got a painkilling shot before the game, Buck saying that Rodgers toe was “immunized.”
By the end of the game you could see that Rodgers was limping badly. He said he would consider surgery, but he wouldn’t miss any time. But I have trouble believing anything he says. Still, it’s amazing the way he plays. Essentially, he hasn’t practiced in three weeks, but he still looks like he has a chance at winning the MVP again. Clearly, there is no one more valuable to his team than Rodgers. Trouble is, he knows that.
The offensive line played incredibly well for a group that is missing its top three players. Yosh Nijman did a fantastic job at left tackle. He’s got to be the best third-string tackle in the league. Really, he could start for a lot of teams, and the Packers were lucky he started for them Sunday.
There were many times in the game that when you thought it was over it wasn’t. With a 10-0 lead, and the Rams facing a third down and eight, the Rams and Matthew Stafford hit a 79-yard touchdown to Van Jefferson. It was a well thrown pass, as many from Stafford seem to be. He can get hot, but then he can also miss easy throws. The 54-yard touchdown pass to Odell Beckham Jr. was well thrown. The Rams are a much different team with Stafford at quarterback. Stafford lets them stretch the field offensively.
So, during the past three of four weeks, the Packers have played three teams that are going to the playoffs – the Chiefs, the Rams and the Vikings – yes, the Vikings will probably make the playoffs. The results have been mixed, but the Packers have been more than competitive. They would have beaten the Chiefs with Rodgers, and I’m sure they would have beaten the Vikings if they had some of their key players back, including Gary and Aaron Jones, who both missed the game.
Next week is a bye. It’s a good time for a rest, and we’ll see who comes back to play the Bears.