Jclombardi’s highlights & rapid reactions about Packers win against Bills.
Guest senior writer jclombardi @ http://lombardiave.com
Summary: QB Rodgers threw for 255 yards with touchdown passes to WR Driver and WR Jones and scrambled for another score as the Packers beat the Bills 34-7 at Lambeau Field. The running game was quiet as RB Jackson rushed for only 29 yards and one touchdown. FB Kuhn outrushed Jackson gaining 36 yards. Meanwhile, LB Matthews had three sacks to lead a dominant defensive performance. Also, LB Chillar and rookie S Burnett each got an key interception in the second half as the Packers (2-0) held the Bills to 186 yards of total offense. The Bills struggled on offense with Q Edwards barely topping 100 yards passing, throwing two interceptions, and getting sacked four times. The running game peaked for a bit in the second quarter, but they couldn’t run the ball in the second half, and the Packers pounced on mistakes early and often.
1. LB Matthews had another monster game with 3 sacks leading a dominant defense.
2. RB Jackson failed to reach 30 yards rushing and he didn’t even average three yards per carry. Fullback Kuhn actually led the team with 36 yards on nine attempts and Rodgers added 22. The running game just couldn’t get going. It looked like Jackson struggled to read his block and make the proper cuts, and no one else really stood out, either. Even at 2-0, this is something the Packers have to figure out moving forward. They won’t get very far without some semblance of a running game no matter how well Rodgers plays. After a shaky second quarter Sunday, he was sharp and confident.
3. Although TE Finley had 4 receptions for 103 yards, QB Rodgers missed him on two wide open plays.
4. Rookie LT Bulaga’s era began after he took over at left tackle for an ineffective Chad Clifton in the second quarter, and he looked good in the second half. He might end up starting when the Packers play Chicago next Monday night.
5. Rookies CB Shields and S Burnett are getting more comfortable in their positions. S Burnett has a key interception turnover.
6. At times, ILBs Hawk and Barnett reacted too slowly contributing to the Bills decent running game in the second quarter. Fortunately, the Packers made the necessary half-time adjustments to shut down the three-pronged Bills running game. After not playing at all on defense last week because the defense played nickel every snap against Philadelphia, A.J. Hawk got ample playing time against Buffalo even in the nickel package. “In our nickel package, as much as they ran the ball out of three-wide-receiver sets – you saw a lot of three wide receivers with two backs — that spreads you out,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers explained. “We just wanted to make sure that we were stout enough to play the run.”
7. Defensive coordinator Capers did a good job pressuring QB Edwards throughout the game mixing blitzes and players. The Packers had 4 sacks.
8. The Bills came into the game with highly touted special teams units and dangerous return men, but the Packers held their own. Jordy Nelson posted a better kickoff return average (30.5) then the Bills’ heralded C.J. Spiller (29.0), and Buffalo didn’t return any of Masthay’s three punts.
9. The quote: Nick Barnett, on Mike McCarthy’s halftime anger. “We came in here and you could see it on his face. I don’t know what he said but it was something, F-bomb, get this (expletive) right. We knew going into the locker room, we need to step this up right now. We don’t want to have no mishaps in a game that we should win and we feel that we should win. If we had lost this game, it would be devastating.
10. Even Rodgers admitted his Lambeau Leap following his touchdown was “pretty bad.” He estimated it was his third career leap. “The guys were giving me a hard time on the sideline, but I said ‘Look, I was tired. That was a long way to run, my calves are cramping and that wall’s pretty high.’”
11. Rodgers’ role in the Green Bay Packers’ 34-7 victory over the Buffalo Bills: “The Aaron Rodgers who was uncharacteristically off target in the season opener and pretty mediocre in the first half Sunday against the Buffalo Bills is not the quarterback who will lead the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl. The only guy who has a chance to do that is the Aaron Rodgers who lit up the Bills in the second half of a 34-7 victory at Lambeau Field.”