I'm still exhausted after getting home at 1:30 last night, so here are some bleary-eyed observations from last night's triumph over the Vikings---
- The block that Jason Hunter laid on Chad Greenway to seal Blackmon's TD return was just an excellent play. He hustled and got himself in just legal position (his head was just to the front of Greenway's shoulders) then knocked that former Iowa Hawkeye on his behind. Everyone around us was freaking out more about that block than the return itself when they showed the replays. Incidentally, they replayed that return about seven times. I think it's a new record.
- Thank goodness the weather mostly held. I was worried it was going to be a slogging downpour the entire time. There was about ten minutes of light rain in the fourth quarter and that was it.
- I don't know what Greg Bedard over at the Journal-Sentinel is smoking when he claims that the Packers were able to run the ball effectively. The team's rushing average was decent because of Grant's one long run and Rodgers' scrambling. On pretty much every other rushing play, the Packers didn't do squat. Let's look at the numbers-- without Grant's 57 yard run and Rodgers' scrambles, the Packers ran 19 times for 47 yards. That's pathetic. Consider all the goalline stands where the Packers couldn't move the ball more than a yard without sneaking or passing. Consider the Packers' last offensive possession where they couldn't come close to getting a first down rushing the ball. Bedard is deluded-- calling the battle of the lines a "mismatch" in favor of the Packers' offensive line is ludicrous. In short, the Packers' run blocking was poor, though you expected that with the Vikes' defense, few carries for Grant, and Moll starting. The pass blocking was surprisingly decent though, even with Rodgers making quick dump passes on blitzes.
- Really, what turned the game for the Packers were the three big plays-- Blackmon's return, Grant's run, and Jennings' great play on that bomb-- and Childress/Bevell being complete idiots.
Whenever Peterson didn't get the ball, or the Vikes didn't run a playaction pass, we were confused. Jackson passed 35 times and completed 16 of them. Peterson touched the ball 20 times, 19 carries and one pass. He averaged 5.7 yards each time he touched the ball. Those numbers of touches should be reversed, even if you're losing, and even with the Packers were doing a better job on Peterson in the second half. Peterson is a great player. He has got to touch the ball at least 25 times every game. Bevell and Childress occasionally make excellent calls (the fourth down playaction for a touchdown being one), but this stuff is just so basic, it's mindboggling.
- The three big plays were great, but the Packers have to be more consistent offensively. A nice long slow drive at some point late in the third or in the fourth would have iced the game. Maybe when they're able to run with some consistency (when Grant's all the way back and they're playing against worse run defenses), and thus create a little more room for the wideouts to run, they'll be able to have those kinds of drives.
- Rodgers played well, for sure. As far as room for improvement goes, the one thing I want to see in coming weeks is better accuracy on short throws. In order for the West Coast stuff to work well, Rodgers has got to get the ball to guys in stride, so they can immediately cut upfield. He did that some of the time last night. Other times, he made his receivers lunge for the ball, thus forcing them to slow down and get themselves together before running. When he was slightly off target on those throws, those plays generally didn't do much. Just a handful of yards at time. I specifically remember one pass to Driver, one to Jennings out wide, and one to Lee in the flat. All completed, but all awkward catches, and all getting minimal gains.
- Rodgers' deep pass to Jennings was fine, but not great. I thought Driver was more open than Jennings on that play. Rodgers' running was excellent though. He looks like Favre back in '93. Good stuff to see. And that goalline pass to Korey Hall was simply marvelous. A wonderful play and a brilliantly accurate ball, thrown while he was torquing his body to the side, trying to dodge the rush. Encouraging stuff.