Legendary senior writer jclombardi’s insider final reviews & grades.
Photo credit: Dan Powers Gannett Wisconsin Media.
SUMMARY: QB Rodgers threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, RB Grant scored twice, and WR Cobb set a franchise season net yardage record as the Packers crushed the Titans 55-7. With the win, the Packers are secured as the NFC’s number 3 seed.
GAME BALLS: QB Rodgers; RB Grant; ILB Hawk; ILB Jones; WR Jones.
INJURY REPORT: WR Cobb (ankle injury); CB Shields (shoulder injury).
PASSING OFFENSE: A vs A- vs A. Although facing early Titans pressure, QB Rodgers led an optimum up-tempo, no-huddle offensive drives completing 27 of 38 passes for 342 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 125.1 passer rating. He missed on two passes to wide open WR Jones and WR Jennings. WR Jones had 7 catches for 100 yards and 1 touchdown. TE Finley had 5 catches for 70 yards. WR Cobb had 3 catches for 72 yards and 1 touchdown. In the 1st quarter, Cobb's 14-yard punt return broke Packers great running back Green's 2250 all-purpose yards (2003 season). WR Jennings had 7 catches for 45 yards and 1 touchdown.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A- vs B vs A-. The starters DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant combined with scrambling QB Rodgers for an impressive four rushing touchdowns. This is an impressive number, being 1 less than the team total in the first 14 games. Running backs Grant and Harris combined to rush 28 times for 109 yards and 3 touchdowns. Grant had 20 carries for 80 yards and 2 touchdowns. Harris had 8 carries for 29 yards and 1 touchdown. As a good indicator of an effective running game, the Packers converted two big fourth downs (4th and 1 and 4th and 2) using a two-running backs power formation. The offensive line opened big holes and allowed just 1 sack. BM provided good offensive line assessment:
[Center] Dietrich-Smith's debut brought improvement to the run game. He got some displacement at the point of attack, stayed on his feet and showed pretty good quickness to the LB level. He had no penalties, no snapping snafus and one "bad" run. The lone sack was recorded by [Titans] rookie DT Martin…against [LG] Lang. [RT] Newhouse gave up two hurries…and had two "bad" runs. [Rookie RT]…Barclay [was okay]…[with] 2½ pressures and two "bad" runs.
PASSING DEFENSE: A vs A vs A. The defense had an outstanding game holding the Titans to no score for 58 minutes. In the only minus, they allowed a two-yard touchdown pass from Titans QB Locker to WR Britt with 1 minute, 39 seconds left in the game. Throughout the game, the Packers harassed QB Jake Locker sacking him seven times, hitting him five times, and intercepting him twice. The young improved 2012 defense’s new trademark is rapacious pass rush, opportunistic takeaways, sound tackling and no penalties. ILB Hawk had a solid game with 7 tackles (with 3 tackles for losses), 3 quarterback hits, and 2 sacks. ILB Jones had 10 tackles and 1 sack.
RUSHING DEFENSE: A vs A vs A. The run defense was staunch holding the Titans to 79 rushing yards averaging only a meager 3.6 ypc. The Packer held Titans running back Johnson to 28 yards. The front seven were solid in the run defense led by NT Raji, DE Pickett, DE Neal, OLB Matthews, ILB Hawk, ILB Jones, CB Hayward, CB Shields, and Safety Burnett.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B+ vs B vs B. Kicker Crosby hit both field goals form 26 yards and from 48 high off the right upright. On 10 kickoffs, he averaged 60.4 yards and 3.68 seconds of hang time. Punter Masthay had 3 directional punts averaging a solid 39.7 gross, 35.7 net, and 4.54 hang time. In a remarkable play to start the second half, KR Cobb saved 37 yards of field position by using a NFL rule to step out of bounds at the 3 yard line before touching Titans K Bironas' dying kickoff. Otherwise, with no kick return opportunities, he averaged 13.0 yards on three punt returns. Replacing an injured Cobb, PR Ross had a big 58 yard punt return. The coverage units had a solid day.
COACHING: A- vs A vs ?. The game plan executed a solid balanced attack against an inferior Titans team. The Packers scored on 11 of 14 offensive drives and 6 of 7 drives in the red zone. In the first minus, the Packers were only 2 of 11 in third down conversions. Meanwhile, the defense nearly pitched a shutout with DC Capers executing creative unrelenting blitzes and pressures to shutdown Titans QB Locker until the final two minutes. In the second minus, McCarthy failed to remove Cobb and QB Rodgers early enough after getting the huge second-half lead. When Cobb was injured returning a punt, the scenario could have been avoided.
OVERALL: B+ vs ? vs A. The Packers dominated the Titans giving a statement game to prepare for the final Vikings game and the playoffs. The Pack can secure the number 2 seed and 1st round bye with a Sunday afternoon victory over the Vikings. Then the Seattle screw and fiasco will be finally over, although it would be fun to play the “laughable hot” Seahawks in the playoffs.
COMMENTARY: HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND HOLIDAYS!