Fresh off a 35-31 win against Dallas, the Packers had their fair share of ups and downs. However, all that matters is that the team executed perfectly when necessary, and now the Packers sit alone atop the NFC North. Let’s take a closer look at players who are trending up and others who need to step up in order to win more in the future.
RB Aaron Jones: With Ty Montgomery officially inactive due to a rib injury, Jones got the start over fellow rookie Jamaal Williams. This came as a slight surprise, as Williams has been the apparent backup to Montgomery all season, however Jones must have shown enough last week in Chicago to persuade the typically stubborn Mike McCarthy into giving him the start. Jones did not disappoint, as he picked up 125 yards on 19 carries as well as a touchdown for the second straight week. Jones did a fantastic job of running hard and hitting the lanes produced by the offensive line to keep the Dallas defense on the field for a couple of time-consuming drives. One has to wonder if Jones has shown enough these past two weeks to push Montgomery for playing time once he returns from injury.
ILB Blake Martinez: It seems as though Martinez’s arrow has been pointing up every single week this season, and appears to be a perfect example of one of McCarthy’s players making that “second-year jump”. Martinez continued to be a headache for opposing offenses, especially in the first half against Dallas. He put up 12 total tackles on the night and had one pass defensed on the stat sheet, and overall looked like a force to be reckoned with on tape. Even though he didn’t come away with a sack or a QB hit, he still made a mark in the pass rush in tonight’s game. Look for Martinez to continue to shine heading into next week against the Minnesota Vikings.
WR Davante Adams: Wow. Going back to the hit last week by Danny Trevathan of the Chicago Bears, it seems impressive that Davante Adams was able to walk again, much less continue his football career. A week ago at this time most people would be stunned if they were told Adams would play in Dallas. And play he did. Adams had 7 receptions on 11 targets for 66 yards and 2 touchdowns, one of which was to the win the game with only 11 seconds left. Rodgers looked Adams way not once, but twice on that final touchdown drive, with the first attempt a thrown a little too low as it was batted down by the defender. Adams looked great and to see him step up on the final drive with Jordy Nelson absent was a very positive sign for him moving forward.
3rd-Down Defense: It’s difficult to really pinpoint a certain player on the defense who played poor all game, as most made plays at one point or another during this game (Damarious Randall’s pick-six that fell into his lap a prime example). And for the early part of the game, the run defense did a phenomenal job in bottling up Ezekiel Elliot. However, during the fourth quarter, the defense did a terrible job of stopping the Dallas offense and gave way to a long Dallas touchdown drive that ate up over ten minutes off the clock. Both the run and pass defense looked downright bad during this time, especially on third downs. While this could be attributed to another rash of injuries – to the secondary in particular – this team needs to stiffen up and get opposing offenses off the field in situations like this in order to contend for a championship this year.
K Mason Crosby: Crosby missed not one, but two extra points tonight. The first one bounced off the right upright and didn’t go in, and the second one may have been a product of a bad snap/hold. Regardless, holder Justin Vogel did get the ball in position before Crosby kicked it and he missed pretty far left for an extra point. While it didn’t end up costing the Packers the game, one just has to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to watch how inconsistent kicking can dramatically change the outcome of a football game. Crosby has been extremely clutch in recent years, just ask Dallas fans about the last time these two teams met, so I would tend to think that this performance was more an exception rather than the norm.
All statistics courtesy of ESPN.com
Photo courtesy of Packersnews.com