Monday, October 14, 2013

The 53 - Packers beat Ravens on the road

I located what I think is the only sports bar in Santiago, Chile that shows NFL game(s).  I put the "s" in parenthesis because I was unable to get a straight answer from the bar whether they will in fact play all the games or just the "national game".  I say "national game" because when Cheesehead Chick and I tried to watch the Packers/Lions game at a bar in Rio de Janerio, Brazil we were only able to watch the the Colts/Seahawks games since ESPN only shows one non-SNF or MNF game a week instead of the full slate.  Instead of rolling the dice that I wouldn't even get to see the Packers/Ravens game, I made the smart decision to go on a winery tour of Conchay y Toro aka the MillerCoors of wineries in Chile with Cheesehead Chick.  I had the best of both worlds because I was able to get wifi at certain times to stay apprised of the game.

Inactives for the Packers against the Ravens were: Josh Boyd (DE, healthy scratch), Jarrett Bush (CB, hamstring), Casey Hayward (CB, hamstring), Brad Jones (MLB, hamstring), Clay Matthews (LB, thumb), James Starks (RB, knee), and Greg Van Roten (C/G, foot).

Going into the game Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was 10-0 against the NFC at home and the Ravens had not been beaten by an NFC team at home since 2006 (won 13 in a row) while Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was merely 7-8 against AFC teams on the road.  The Packers not only broke the aforementioned streaks but they are now 4-1 "all-time" against the Ravens.

A lackluster first half performance that saw the Packers leading the Ravens 6-0 was compounded by some very serious injuries.  Wide receivers Randall Cobb (knee) and James Jones (shin) both were injured in the first half and did not return to the game.  Cobb's injury occurred on what looked like like a borderline questionable tackle by rookie safety Matt Elam while Jones was hurt blocking on a run play.  Cobb's injury looked much worse and will most likely keep him out an extended period of time.  Besides the wide receiver injuries, outside linebacker Nick Perry played well with a sack that lead to a forced fumble but suffered a foot injury and the severity is unknown.

Although injuries will cloud the win for the second week in a row, the Packers had a number of positive individual performances against the Ravens.  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had what most quarterbacks would consider a very good game going 17 for 32 throwing for 315 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception that stat line almost looks average on paper given how well Rodgers has played the last few years.

The Packers got another impressive performance by rookie running back Eddie Lacy.  After rushing for 99 yards last week against the Lions, Lacy ran for 123 yards on 20 carries against the Ravens.  Rounding out the impressive offensive performances was wide receiver Jordy Nelson with four catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.

The defense looked good against the Ravens despite missing two starting linebackers: outside linebacker Clay Matthews and middle linebacker Brad Jones.  The Business H.J. aka A.J. Hawk had 10 tackles, five tackles for a loss, and three sacks.  Yes, you read that last sentence correctly, Business H.J. had arguably his most productive game as a member of the Packers.  Rookie cornerback Micah Hyde was productive on defense as well with 7 tackles, 1 for a loss and 1 sack.

Moving to special teams.  Not only was Hyde impressive on defense but more importantly he averaged just under 14 yards a return on his five punt returns against the Ravens, which is helpful given that the Packers might be without Cobb for an extended period of time.  If Hyde can be an effective punter returner that will soften the blow of losing Cobb slightly.  Punter Tim Masthay boomed some punts but unfortunately with special teams maven Jarrett Bush out the coverage of those punts was lackluster.  Place kicker Mason Crosby made four of his five field goals attempts so he is no longer perfect on the season but still went a long way towards helping the Packers notch a much needed road victory over the Ravens.

Since the Packers won, I thought I would have some fun with highlighting some of the bonehead plays by various Packers from the game so I will hand out an offensive, defensive, and special team Trojan Boner of the Week Award.  The winner on offense is tight end Jermichael Finley.  After Finley picked up 52 yards on a third and three with less than two minutes in the game he went out of bounds to stop the clock.  Lacy ran out the clock so he bailed out Finley but those kind of mental mistakes are inexcusable from a player of Finley's caliber.

The winner on defense is safety Jerron McMillian for two consecutive plays.  First McMillian let wide receiver Tandon Doss break free for a 63 yard gain on 4th and 21.  The play had flashes of 4th and 26 against the Eagles in the playoffs from a decade ago as McMillian let Doss get behind him and slipped as he turned to chase Doss.  If that wasn't bad enough, McMillian gave up a touchdown catch to tight end Dallas Clark on the next play.  Given how bad McMillian has been in coverage, safety Chris Banjo will most likely be the primary backup safety ahead of McMillian going forward.

Finally the "winner" on special teams and a strong candidate for the Trojan Boner of the Year Award is fullback John Kuhn.  The Packers blocked a punt but it went across the line of scrimmage.  Kuhn unsuccessfully tried to the field the punt, which was then recovered by the Ravens for a fresh set of downs.  Kuhn has long been considered a special teams maven but last week Kuhn didn't see a single snap on offense so there is no room for special teams gaffes like that.

Sorry for the non-traditional posts the last two weeks but traveling around South America has severely hampered my ability to post my usual updated player rankings and comments following each game.  Don't worry, next week I am going to the Packers/Browns game at Lambeau Field so check back for my usual post with updated player rankings.

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