It was a snow-filled affair in Lambeau as the Green Bay Packers hosted the Carolina Panthers. In the closest of margins, the home team emerged with a 24-16 victory. Here is the full Packers vs Panthers Recap.
Best and Worst of King
Early in this game, we saw both the best and the worst of Kevin King. On the Panthers’ initial possession, King made a great tackle on Curtis Samuel to force the punt. Playing in off coverage, King reacted and moved quickly to the receiver he got a quick pass from Kyle Allen. Samuel needed to gain yards after the catch in order to get the first down, therefore it was a key tackle by King.
However, on the next drive, Carolina got into great field position immediately. King was covering D.J. Moore. Moore ran a shallow cross while King backed off and almost appeared to drop into a deep zone. But it was man coverage so nobody picked up Moore who took the short pass 38 yards upfield. It was a horrible blown coverage by King.
Allen looked comfortable passing from the pocket even in the face of the Packers’ potent pass-rush. It also helps when Christian McCaffrey is an option on screen passes as a way to get the ball out quickly. When he needed to stay in the pocket, Allen was able to maneuver well and find space to throw. A few plays after the big completion to Moore, the Panthers produced points. Allen rolled out to his right and found Samuel for the touchdown. 7-0 Panthers.
Not to be outdone at home, the Packers bounced right back with a scoring drive of their own. While Davante Adams saw the first target on this drive, it was the secondary Green Bay passing options who were moving the chains. Originally lined up just outside of the tight end, Jake Kumerow ran underneath across the formation and found space to take a quick catch for a 1st-down.
Eventually, a 3rd-and-9 came up. It was a vintage Aaron Rodgers scramble, as he found a receiver deep. But instead of the usual suspects on the receiving end, it was Allen Lazard who broke inside on his route and found separation. This presented Rodgers with a target that he placed a perfect pass on.
Adams did get the team in scoring range with another 1st-down reception, followed by an Aaron Jones touchdown run on the very next play. The offensive line held up well through the drive and allowed the Packers to tie the game at 7-7.
On the ensuing Carolina drive, Kyle Allen continued to cause problems for the Packers with his mobility. First, Darnell Savage missed a chance to take Allen down for a sack. Instead, the quarterback escaped and ran for a 1st-down. On the very next play, Kenny Clark also barely missed an opportunity for a sack.
Both players would redeem themselves. Savage by coming off the edge to stop Christian McCaffrey for no gain. Two plays later, Clark, as well as other Packers defenders, were quick to tackle McCaffrey on a 3rd down screen pass that resulted in a 3-yard loss. The Panthers would still kick a 50-yard FG, but the lead was only 10-7 over Green Bay.
Turn Over And Over
After punting only 32 yards to the Panthers 45-yard line, the Packers caught another break early in a drive. After D.J. Moore gained 9 yards on a 1st-down slant pattern, Kyle Allen mishandled the snap and fumbled the football. While it laid there next to him, Allen did try to secure it against his body, but Dean Lowry prevented that from happening and Montravius Adams recovered it. That was Green Bay’s 15 takeaway this season, as many as they had last season.
An amazing Davante Adams catch gave the Packers instant field position. Five plays later, Aaron Jones ran in for his 2nd TD of the day. That gave the Packers a 14-10 lead. While scoring obviously helped his team, an underrated aspect of Jone’s play is his pass-protection. On that 37-yard Adams reception, Jones picked up a late blitz coming from the offenses left side. That allowed Aaron Rodgers to stand in the pocket, wait for Adams’ route to develop, and throw a laser down the right sideline.
After the Panthers punted, the Packers took a penalty and possession of the football at their own 10-yard line. On 3rd-down, Aaron Rodgers was throwing from his own end zone. Gerald McCoy came in and got a QB hit to force an incompletion. However, in the process, he landed on Rodgers and landed himself a roughing the passer penalty. Now he did attempt to roll off of Rodgers and not put his full weight on the quarterback. But the officials did not see it that way and the drive continued.
Green Bay would use up the final 5:07 of the half in order to get right down to the goal-line. On 3rd-and-goal with only 8 seconds left, Rodgers threw a pass to Allen Lazard that end up as an incompletion. However, a Carolina penalty gave the Packers the football at the 1-yard line, but with only 2 seconds left. That was not enough time to run another play, and kick a field goal. Matt LaFleur, tempted by the opportunity to make it a two-score game, decided to run Jamaal Williams up the middle. McCoy made up for the penalty by blowing past David Bakhtiari and tackling Williams for a 3-yard loss. Rarely does Bakhtiari, a First-Team All-Pro last season, fail to even touch an opponent, yet that is what McCoy did to end the half.
If the Packers lost this game, then this decision could certainly have been magnified. While attempting to create a two-possession lead is understandable, being ahead by a 7-point margin would have been better than a 4-point lead.
Technically, the second play from scrimmage in the 2nd-half was another long reception by Davante Aams. The 38-yard gain was made even more impressive considering that the Packers 3rd quarter began with a 7-yard sack followed by a holding penalty. Adams beat Donte Jackson one-on-one by sticking a double move and getting wide open.
Next, was a 28-yard run by Aaron Jones who made the most out of key blocks by Billy Turner as well as receivers Jake Kumerow and Marcedes Lewis. Jones found success running to the right side of the offensive line often in this contest. That continued on his 3rd TD run of the day. It was a great design by Matt LaFleur who had Lewis run an out route from the right tight end spot. This brought a defender with him and allowed Turner as well as Bryan Bulaga to have one-on-one blocking assignments and easily give Jones the space to score.
The 1st-half decision to go for it, instead of kick the field goal was, at least temporarily, forgotten as the Packers took a 21-10 lead.
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The Panthers were quickly able to get up the field. It began with an initial 1st-down, courtesy of D.J. Moore, on a dig route reception against Jaire Alexander. Christian McCaffrey gained a couple of 1st-downs a the ground, including a play where he cut back and forced a rare missed tackle out of Blake Martinez.
Ibraheim Campbell, in his first game action of the season, forced a Christian McCaffrey fumble. While the Panthers recovered, it was nonetheless a positive sign to see the young defensive back making such an impact.
Eventually, Carolina got into scoring range thanks to a 15-yard reception by Greg Olsen. However, two plays later, Kyle Allen threw an interception in the end zone. He noticed Jarius Wright get free of Tramon Williams with a move towards the middle of the end zone. He did not, however, see Adrian Amos playing the free safety role and he made a play on the ball. While he did not come up with an interception, Amos managed to tip it so that Williams could get the pick.
After week 10, the Packers defense is 6th in the NFL with 16 turnovers.
Stealing the Clock
As they have done in other instances this season, Green Bay ate up a lot of the game clock on a scoring drive. 5:49 to be exact. It was the second Packers’ possession of the game that took up more than 5 minutes. Eventually, the drive stalled but Mason Crosby made a 47-yard FG attempt to make it a 24-10 game.
Carolina would answer with an extended drive of their own. Even after his interception, Kyle Allen was still standing in the face of immense pressure and completing passes. On 3rd-and-9, even with Za’Darius Smith hitting him, Allen found Greg Olsen for a 1st-down. This was especially impressive after getting sacked by Ty Lancaster two plays previous.
Eventually, the Panthers would punch in the football with a 3-yard Christian McCaffrey TD run. Even though he had the angle to potentially get a tackle, Adrian Amos could not get to McCaffrey quick enough as the running back used his burst to get into the end zone and make it a one-score game. Down by 8, Carolina went for a 2-point conversion. On the Allen attempt, in a play that was similar to the INT, Adrian Amos broke the pass from his free safety spot and kept the score 24-16.
Closest of Margins
Following three straight punt possessions, two by the Packers, Carolina had themselves a drive. Although it almost did not get far as Kenny Clark broke up a play by beating Matt Paradis one-on-one. This forced Kyle Allen to rush his throw and it almost led to a Jaire Alexander interception. Clark made another huge impact a few plays later by beating Paradis again and forcing Allen out of the pocket for a no-gain run. Clark had himself a great comeback game after a brutal performance against the Chargers.
A 4th-and-10 play with less than 1 minute left became a key moment. While he had played well since the big 1st-quarter reception by D.J. Moore, Kevin King allowed Moore to once again gain a 1st-down. King was playing off coverage which enabled Moore to get the separation needed on the back-shoulder throw. Not to question Mike Pettine, whose defense has drastically improved this season, but the amount of off coverage that is used can be frustrating. Especially on a 4th-and-10. I understand that the emphasis was not to give up a big play, but mixing in some press coverage could be advantageous.
Eventually, the Panthers were faced with another 4th-down. This time they only needed to gain 1-yard. Clark once again push threw the offensive line. Allen had to rush his throw which did not give Christian McCaffrey enough time to separate from Darnell Savage. The pass fell incomplete but an offside penalty on Preston Smith kept Carolina alive. Discipline was an issue for the Packers as 10 accepted penalties in this game would indicate.
With 3 seconds left on the game clock, and the football at the 2-yard line Carolina needed a TD and 2-point convert to tie the game. The Packers defense was late getting into position as Kyler Fackrell barely had time to make it to the right side of the defensive formation before the snap. It was fortunate that he did as that is exactly where McCaffrey ran. Fackrell stopped his progress but McCaffrey was not yet down. At least not until Preston Smith made up for his penalty and came from the backside of the formation to grab McCaffrey’s legs. Caught between Fackrell and Smith, McCaffrey was unable to reach out any further and came up just inches short of the goal-line. Time expired and the final score read 24-16 Packers.
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