Poetry in motion may be the best way to describe the Green Bay Packers offense yesterday against the Los Angeles Rams. Going up against the No. 1 defense in the NFL, the Packers offense made the Rams defense look as average as they’ve made most defenses look all season. The beauty that lies within yesterday’s game was the involvement of so many pieces.
There were so many contributions on the offensive side yesterday, but let’s start with the big boys up front. Aaron Rodgers had all day to throw; he wasn’t sacked once. Aaron Donald was in and out of the game, but he was completely neutralized by Corey Linsley and Elgton Jenkins even when he was in. It was a truly incredible performance by a great offensive line.
All the hype and buildup going into the contest was on the matchup between Davante Adams and Jalen Ramsey. Arguably the best corner, an all-pro, against arguably the best wide receiver — also an all-pro. The gameplan Matt LaFleur put together was brilliant. As much as everyone would’ve wanted to see the ball constantly going in the direction of those two to see how it unraveled, LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers knew they would need to lean on others. Enter the “others” not named Davante or Aaron Jones.
Allen Lazard made up for a rare drop on a play where he had sprung wide open up the far sideline by turning in a four catch, 96-yard performance on eight targets, including the dagger; a 58-yard touchdown that put Green Bay up 32-18 with 6:52 left.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling also had eight targets, a busy day for No. 83. He hauled in four of them. Just so we don’t continue burying with the stats, we need to mention Robert Tonyan having four catches for 60 yards and Jamaal Williams running all over the Rams defense in critical spots for 65 yards on 12 rushes.
It’s a core of weapons that, aside from Adams and Jones, had previously received a fair share of criticism at times throughout the year, especially Valdes-Scantling. The fascinating part of it is that those critics might discover frustration they have held stems from the front office if they really thought about why they were overly skeptical. Many wanted and pleaded for the Packers to take a wide receiver in the first round of the NFL draft. We all know how that turned out. And that decision led some to cherry-pick chances to rip some of these other pieces.
What a great cure winning is. And what a platform, the NFL divisional round of the playoffs, for those dudes to step up to the plate and deliver.
What the Packers offense did yesterday to the Rams — scoring on every one of their first FIVE drives (three touchdowns, two field goals), scoring 32 points (second-most given up all year by L.A.) — makes it hard to believe that any of the remaining defenses left will be able to slow down this group. We have a sample size of 16 regular-season games and now one postseason contest. We’ve seen enough to know that this offense just isn’t going to be stopped the rest of the way unless it’s with a bevy of self-inflicted wounds.
And hey, how about that defense?
The defense was outstanding yesterday. Kenny Clark and Rashan Gary were absolute hell raisers, making life miserable for Jared Goff throughout the afternoon. The eyebrow-raising part came when the Packers could get pressure on Goff a couple of times rushing only three. This defense can ball out. Jaire Alexander was left alone, thrown at only three times, and only one of those was a reception for -3 yards. Krys Barnes was running around with a club on his left hand after fracturing his left thumb during the game but staying in. What a gamer.
There are still legitimate gripes to be had with the scheme on defense.
Los Angeles had a flawless drive (outside of chewing up all of the clock) to close out the first half. The Packers showed no resistance: The Rams had easy, quick pass after easy, quick pass marching right down for a touchdown. Mike Pettine still had Green Bay’s linebackers lined up out wide in man coverage on running backs, which always irritates me.
And we saw more of the same when the Packers pressed the Rams wideouts at the line. It appeared they had more success in the secondary, making things way more difficult for Goff. But too many times, the scheme reverted to playing off coverage and giving up some relatively easy throws for Goff. However, the overarching theme is that the defense showed that they deserve some of that recognition and some of the spotlight that often gets heavily put on the offense.
Can I throw out one lame cliche? Those boys in Green Bay are playing some of their best football at the right time.
Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen. The Green Bay Packers are one win away from the Super Bowl. And for the first time in Aaron Rodgers’ career, this NFC Championship will be played at Lambeau Field. Bring on the snow, and let’s hope it’s colder than it was Saturday afternoon.