The Green Bay Packers edged out a close 20-15 victory over Washington during week 14 of the NFL season. Here is the full recap of Packers vs Washington.
Tale of Two Teams
Both Green Bay and Washington could not have more opposite first quarters. For Washington, they punted on their opening 3 possessions and gained a grand total of 4 yards on those drives. The Packers pass-rush was relentless and Mike Pettine was fully willing to blitz even on 1st-down. It worked as his defense accumulated 4 sacks in the game. Dwayne Haskins was doing his best to move in the pocket and to avoid incoming rushers. After one particular sack, he needed to get his ankles taped. For the rest of the contest, Haskins was clearly limited in his mobility but still stayed in there and played a great game.
For the Packers offense, it was as good of a start as they could have hoped for. Their opening play was a 20-yard connection between Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Graham. Aaron Jones was heavily involved from the beginning as he had a hand in 4 of the 7 plays on his team’s opening possession. That included a 4-yard TD run to give the Packers a 7-0 lead. A few weeks ago, there was some concern about right tackle Bryan Bulaga as he left the game with an injury. In two games since that injury, he has played every snap and looked great. That includes making a key block on this TD run.
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Green Bay’s second possession was a 3-and-out. However, the third time that the offense took the field, they added to their lead. Once again, a big play by Graham kick-started the drive. While he s not quite the athlete he once was in his heyday, Graham still possesses the ability to get downfield, and Matt LaFleur had no fear of using him in that regard during this game. It was, however, another tight end who found the end zone. Robert Tonyan scored the second TD of his career to give his team a 14-0 lead. Washington’s defensive game plan was to shut out the Packers’ primary passing options. They succeeded by putting extra attention on Davante Adams and Allen Lazard. However, on Tonyan’s TD reception, doubling Lazard cam back to bite them as it left the TE wide open in the end zone.
Turning Things Around
After initial struggles, Washington’s offense found their footing. They did so on the ground by, at one point, calling 8 straight run plays. Additionally, Dwayne Haskins did complete a 30-yard pass to rookie Kelvin Harmon. That sep up Washington near the goal-line. On the very next play, Adrian Peterson found the end zone and cut the Packers lead to 14-6 (missed PAT). The veteran RB ran really well in this game. He looked explosive and showed enough speed to get to the outside on certain runs.
This was extremely important considering that Derrius Guice left the game with an injury in the 2nd quarter and did not return. It’s unfortunate that the young RB has continuously dealt with knee issues in his career. For Washington, it was really a shame in this contest as Guice produced 42 yards on only 5 carries before exiting.
Late Half Turnovers
After allowing Washington to score, the Packers had an opportunity to extend their lead before halftime. The drive began well enough as both Davante Adams and Allen Lazard caught passes for 1st-downs. For both receivers, it was the first time where they caught passes of the game. Adams even came up with a 4th-down catch after dropping a pass on the previous play.
Under a minute left in the first half, Green Bay had the ball at the Washinton 27-yard line. In field goal range, that priority is ball security. However, Ryan Anderson beat Bryan Bulaga’s 1-on-1 blocking attempt and got to Aaron Rodgers. With the QB getting ready to pass, the ball was not well protected and Anderson knocked it out of his hand. Anderson even recovered it himself and gave his team a chance to eat into their deficit.
Washington, however, would not be able to capitalize. To their credit, the Packers pass rush continued to cause havoc for Washington’s offense. Blake Martinez came in on a blitz and would have had the sack, if not for a penalty that nullified the play. Mike Pettine kept calling up pressure plays and it paid off when Za’Darius Smith hit Dwayne Haskins’ arm during his throw. This caused the pass to be underthrown and Adrian Amos came up with the INT to effectively end the half.
Run > Pass
The Packers began the 3rd quarter with the football and went right to establishing a heavy dose of Aaron Jones. The running back gained 34 yards on 4 carries and an additional 19 yards on 2 receptions during this drive. Jamaal Williams even had a key moment by converting on 4th-and-1 thanks to some great blocking on the left side by Billy Turner (who pulled out from his right guard spot), David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins. Eventually, the possession would end with a field goal attempt. Mason Crosby re-established the Packers’ two-score lead at 17-6.
The run game was far more efficient for the Green Bay offense than their passing plays were. That was partially due to Jones himself who ran for 134 yards on 16 attempts (8.2 yards per carry). He was also their leading receiver with 6 receptions for 58 yards. Meanwhile, the Packers’ passing attack only produced 195 yards in this entire game.
The lack of prowess in the passing game also extended to Washington. The Packers pass-rush continued to produce and as always, it began in the middle with Kenny Clark. He was in on the opening sack of the game, early in the 1st quarter. Washington did double-team him to open the 2nd half and even that did not work. Clark beat his double-team on 3rd down and got to Dwayne Haskins for the sack.
The ensuing Packers offensive drive went no better. Three straight incompletions forced them to punt as well. Once they got the ball back, Washington’s offense performed much better then they had on the previous drive. Their top receiver, Terry McLaurin, finally got on the stat sheet, with a key 3rd-down reception around mid-field. Washington failed to move the chains beyond that, but they were in field goal range as Dustin Hopkins closed the gap to 17-9.
On the final 3rd-down of the drive, Za’Darius Smith came from behind to sack Haskins as he was trying to escape the pressure. It was a scary moment for Packers fans as Smith stayed down after making the tackle. Earlier this season, Smith went down with injuries that looked as though they would cost him time. As was the case in those other instances, Smith returned to the field on later in the match.
After that Washington field goal, the next two possessions ended in punts. On 3rd-and-9 from their own side of midfield, the Packers ran a play with Aaron Jones lineup up on the outside and ran a deep route while in 1-on-1 coverage. Jones managed to get a step on the defensive back, but the pass was just out of reach. It is unfortunate for Green Bay that Aaron Rodgers could not connect with Jones as there was no deep safety help over the top. So if Jones caught the ball, he very well could have scored.
It’s not as if Washington found a ton of success on offense. They did manage to produce one 1st-down on a crossing route reception by Steven Sims. Three plays later, Sims was open on an underneath cross route for what likely would have been a 1st-down. Instead, Haskins took a deep shot at Kelvin Harmon that came up incomplete. There certainly were so close calls in this second half.
Take the Time
Up 17-9 early in the 4th quarter, the Packers had a real opportunity in front of them. Already deep in their own territory, Matt Ioannidis sacked Aaron Rodgers to set of the offense inside their own 5-yard line. Ioannidis got past both Bryan Bulaga and Billy Turner untouched. It is not clear who had Ioannidis as a blocking assignment, but the point is, there are occasional miscommunication issues for this Packers offensive line.
A screen pass to Aaron Jones could not dig them out and Green Bay faced a 3rd-and-14. Throwing from his own endzone, Rodgers found Jones deep along the sideline once again. Only this time, he threw a perfect pass into a tight window. To his credit, Jones came up with the catch while demonstrating his receiver-esque hands. The 25-yard passing play tied for the team’s longest complete reception in the game.
As was the case in ohter contests during 2019, the Packers took full advantage of the clock and tried to milk it as best they could. It was not just through the run game either, as Rodgers also completed short passes in an effort to keep the clock running. Eventually, this Green Bay drive took up almost 7-and-a-half minutes and concluded with another Mason Crosby field goal attempt. He kicked this one through the uprights as well and the Packers expanded their lead to 20-9.
Washington had just over 2-and-a-half minutes to produce two scores and get the win. Recognizing this, the Packers secondary adjusted and went into prevent mode. Jaire Alexander completely shut down Washington’s top receiver, Terry McLaurin, in the 1st half. Playing prevent defense, Alexander began to give McLaurin some cushion, which Dwayne Haskins was able to exploit. On this drive, McLaurin caught 3 passes for 49 yards, including a TD grab that was among the best receptions we’ve seen in the NFL this season. McLaurin had inside body position on Alexander but was caught in a hand fight with his right arm. No worries for McLaurin as he came down with the one-handed catch in the end-zone, making it a 20-15 game.
With just over a minute left in the match, Washington needed to recover the onside kick to keep their hopes alive. They were unable to do so and the Packers got the victory. Green Bay’s record improves to 10-3 while Washington falls to 3-10.
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