Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Bucky Five: Almost Took One For Granted

1. A Very Familiar Game, With an Unfamiliar Outcome - The Packers haven't won a game in Philadelphia since 1962, so it was fair to assume that if Green Bay were to lose a handful of games this season, this would be one of them. But then again a lot of things were going in the Packers favor. Kevin Kolb, the Eagles starting quarterback, is more talk than he is walk at this point, and the Packers have one of the most prolific offenses in the league. Green Bay's defense is improved from a year ago as well, so perhaps Green Bay could go into Philly and steal one from the Eagles. That's basically what happened, at least initially in the Packers week one game, as after a few quarters of play the Packers found themselves up 20-3 on the road.

But a funny thing happened towards the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth. A game that seemed as if it were to become out of reach suddenly turned into a mash up of all the horrific losses we've experienced through the years. More specifically, this game seemed to be the child of the 4th and 26th game and the first playoff loss at Lambeau at the hands of Michael Vick and the Falcons. After Kolb left the game with an injury, not only did Vick enter the game but he took over the game. Vick looked like the Vick of old, the man that was unstoppable not just in the game of Madden but in real life. He was throwing lasers to receivers, scrambling to keep plays alive, and turning busted plays into twenty-yard scampers. The Eagles with Michael Vick are a scary team, but it wasn't the team that the Packers prepared all week to play. We prepared for Kevin Kolb, but instead we got a quarterback that ended up rushing for more than 100 yards.

It's funny too because Vick was involved in this game right from the start, as Andy Reid for some reason was running his offense like he was coaching in some small-time collegiate conference. Vick was used quite a few times initially, and then forced into full-time duties once Kolb did go down. Because of him, a game that looked to be a blowout turned into a scary situation for Packers fans, because we've seen this team go down plenty of times in the late afternoon during a Joe Buck led broadcast. Thankfully though, after Vick gained 103 yards on the ground he couldn't gain the one yard he needed, and the Packers stuffed the Eagles on a 4-and-1 to take over on downs and win the game. The Packers won a game they almost gave away, and while they do have quite a bit to work on, coming away with a victory in Philly to start the season is a good way to kick off this campaign.

2. The Strength Became the Weakness - There's no question that the Packers are going to be an offensive juggernaut this season, as the offense and specifically the passing game is this team's strength. And while Rodgers did throw for a pair of touchdowns and the running game proved to be very successful, the offense did have it's share of problems. Veterans Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton got schooled by the Eagles pass rush on more than one occasion, and Rodgers had a late interception that was very, shall we say, Favre-esque. If we can win games though when Aaron Rodgers isn't at his best, that actually makes me feel a lot more confident in this team's chances.

3. Everybody Hurts, Sometimes - Holy injuries, Batman. It seemed like every other play someone was going down in this game. Most of the major injuries seemed to go to Philly, as they had a couple of concussions and probably lost fullback Leonard Weaver for the season. But the Packers got banged up as well. Ryan Grant got roughed up and was in a walking boot at the end of the game, and may end up missing next week. Hopefully that's not the case, although props to Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn for filling in during his absence. Cullen Jenkins and Nick Collins both roughed themselves up as well, but should be fine. And talk about familiar, it looks like Justin Harrell may have torn his ACL as well and it probably done for the rest of 2010. Just a messy game all around, and it's unfortunate to see this many injuries.

4. Nelson Cruise - So much for all that Jason Chery talk. Who knows, maybe the Eagles just have a terrible special teams unit, but Jordy Nelson looked pretty dang good returning kickoffs. On a whole, the special teams unit played very well, especially Mason Crosby who seemed to return to form with a Packers record 56 yard field goal to end the first half. My favorite play from this game actually happened on special teams, when after Tramon Williams got crushed on a fair catch punt return, he laid on his back and pointed to the sky in celebration of the penalty he knew that the Eagles drew. Again, good stuff all around on special teams.

5. The Claymaker - The Packers had a lot of guys who made a lot of good plays in this one, but the MVP honors in this contest go to Clay Matthews. Remember when we drafted A.J. Hawk and thought he was going to be the next great lineback in this league? Matthews is pretty much everything we expected Hawk to be and even more so. Matthews had seven tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble. He also took out Kolb, which maybe he should be downgraded for since that allowed Vick to run all over us, but let's ignore that fact right now. Great game by Matthews on Sunday, as he and Charles Woodson really set the tone early for this team in terms of making big plays on defense throughout the years.

Overall, things got dicey for a big, but I'm very pleased about the Packers effort against Philly and the fact they were able to pick up the 27-20 victory. Especially because they didn't play their best but still picked up a big road win. Hopefully we can carry that momentum in our home opener against the Bills next Sunday and avoid a letdown game.

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