The Green Bay Packers hosted its NFC foe, Los Angeles Rams on Sunday afternoon in what was the premier matchup of the day in the NFL. The Packers were able to grab a firm hold of the lead early on and never let go, knocking off one of the best teams in the conference and improving to 9-3 for the third-straight season. Let’s look at one up, one down from week 12.
Up – offensive line
The Packers’ offensive line has been at the center of some recent criticism from the media over the past few weeks.
Some reports suggested the group’s inexperience and injuries might be catching up to them, despite Aaron Rodgers expressing his appreciation for the unit’s resiliency.
The line quieted some skeptics on Sunday with one of its more admirable performances of the season.
On paper, a Rams defensive line featuring Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Leonard Floyd was the consensus favourite against a Packers offensive line starting Yosh Nijman (fourth career start), Royce Newman (12th career start), and Jon Runyan Jr. (11th career start).
Despite a few pressures allowed, the latter held its own for most of the game.
The box score doesn’t show a pretty number (2.9 yards/rush), but the line was able to get enough of a push on some big downs with big thanks to some freakish, hard-nose running from running back AJ Dillon.
The line also helped the Packers manage a dominant 39:40 in time of possession — nearly doubling the Rams — and allowed just a single — as Rodgers called it — phantom sack to one of the most feared pass-rushes in the league.
Rodgers has been adamant about his appreciation for right tackle Billy Turner this season, saying he should get a pro-bowl nod. But his post-game press conference featured some love for his blindside protector, Nijman.
“I gave him a big hug after the game,” he said. “I told him I almost forgot about that side of the line […] I didn’t have any worries about my backside.”
Down- offense in +territory
It’s tough to label a unit that just posted 30 points as a “down,” but, that’s just how high the bar is set in Titletown.
The mantra of the modern-day NFL defense isn’t preventing yards, it’s forcing teams to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns.
“This should’ve been a 40-point game for us,” Rodgers said Sunday evening.
The Packers offense was held to 3-5 in the Red Zone on Sunday, and ultimately settled for a field goal four times, connecting on three of them.
It can be the difference against a good football team like the Rams.
It’s tough to think last night’s bout should’ve come down to an onside-kick, based on how well the team played.
But it did. And that’s, in large part, due to the offense not capitalizing on opportunities in plus-territory.
The Packers’ offense is starting to find the groove that made them so dominant in 2020, the group that led the NFL in total offense.
Now is the time to start clicking on all cylinders and that means the offense will need to start finishing drives.
A 10+ play drive can quickly become a disappointing one if it doesn’t end with six points.
The Packers enter the much-needed bye week with a chance to get healthy for the most important stretch of the season.——————
Joshua Frey-Sam is a journalism student and aspiring sportscaster hailing from Winnipeg, Canada. A Packers fan since 2005, Josh has worked to master the financial and scouting aspect of the NFL over the past few years. Josh remains a firm believer that Dez did not, in fact, catch the ball. You can follow him on twitter at @jfreysam.