Packers vs Raiders: A Game of Technical Difficulties
Packers (12-0) vs Raiders (7-5)
Date: December 11th
At: Green Bay
Outcome: 46-16 Packers
Don’t let the score fool you–it wasn’t as boring as it looks.
There was no way the Raiders ever had a real chance of winning this game with the way they were playing. Aside from the fact that the Packers struck first with an interception and a touchdown and just kept expanding their lead from there, the Raiders performance was just not strong enough to bring much of a challenge. Their running game was nearly non-existent, especially with Hawk back on the line this week. Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer managed to move the ball down the field via short passes down the middle (traditionally the glaring weak point in the Packer defense), but nearly every Raider drive ended with a choke in the end zone. Their startling number of penalties committed and interceptions suffered were just the disappointing icing on their cake of failure.
The Packers defensive line felt stronger and performed better than last week. Hawk’s return is probably partially responsible, but let’s not forget that the defensive line has been comprised mainly of newbies for the last few games, what with various people in and out due to injuries. Now that they’ve spend time on the field, they’re finally getting a handle on the game–newer players D.J. Smith and Robert Francois racked up one interception apiece this week. As long as they can fight off the complacency-due-to-awesomeness disease, I expect we will see the defense only get stronger over the last few games of the season.
This was the week for the quiet offensive players to come out of their shells. With Starks out due to an ankle injury, Grant had a chance to shine, running the ball for two of the four touchdowns scored by the offense. Ryan Taylor, the rookie tight end, made his first career catch for the third touchdown, and Nelson contributed the fourth (in the traditional manner, of course). Everything was running so well that Rodger’s turned the field over to Flynn near the end of the third quarter and, even though the Packers didn’t score another touchdown and the Raiders managed to eke out a safety, it wasn’t enough. Flynn would have been physically and temporarily incapable of losing that game no matter what.
The only person who was conspicuously absent from most offensive plays this week? You know it –Jermichael Finley. He really only popped up once, in an tangled endzone catch that, after review, ended in a Raiders touchback.
If you ask me, it’s about time he was shelved for a little bit. He can stay on the field to distract the defense, but if he can’t make the catches, he doesn’t deserve the ball. Period.
As you can see, it’s no miracle that the Packers dominated this game, and after a while it looked like it was going to be a long, slow march to an overwhelming victory. While that did end up happening, there were a lot of bizarre fumbles and catches to shake things up. Combine that with a review monitor malfunction in the third quarter to prevent review of said unclear events, and the game was at least eventful, if not surprising.
The big injury suffered in this game is on Greg Jennings, who limped off the field near the end of the third quarter. Latest news says Jennings has a sprained knee and will be out for a few weeks, but we should see him back for the playoffs.
In other news, Brandon Saine suffered a head injury in the first half and was removed from the game, but he should be back next week.
NEXT WEEK: The Chiefs in Kansas City. After firing their head coach, do they have a shot? And what of the Packers? We’re already in the play-offs with a first week bye, but one more win means we’ll play all our play-off games at Lambeau. Can we do it?
If this week is any indication…absolutely.