Although it wasn’t pretty, Brett Hundley and Co. got the job done in Cleveland, winning 27-21 in a thrilling overtime win in Cleveland. With the victory, the Packers climb to 7-6 with their playoff hopes still alive, and while they hardly resemble a playoff-worthy team, the impending return of Aaron Rodgers makes anything possible. Winning their last three games may seem like a daunting task, but if the Packers do stand at 10-6 holding a playoff berth in three weeks, they would be one hot team that no other franchises would want to stand in the way of come December. However, looking that far ahead is jumping the gun quite a bit, so let’s take a look at the Packers who stepped up in the latest overtime victory against the Cleveland Browns, as well as who needs to step up to make the aforementioned scenario possible.
RB Jamaal Williams: A regular member on this list as of late, Williams may not have dominated this game as he did the last two, but he still produced when it mattered most. His 30 yard touchdown reception on the opening drive of the game pumped much needed energy into this Packers team and gave the Packers an NFL-leading seven opening drive touchdowns this season. His first half stats were less than impressive, carrying the ball 4 times for only 15 yards, seemingly running into a brick wall every time he or Aaron Jones carried the ball. However, Williams is becoming the type of back that gets better as the game wears on, taking advantage of a worn-out defense as he finished with 15 carries for 49 yards and scored his second touchdown on the day at the beginning of the fourth quarter to bring the Browns lead down to just one possession. Look for Williams to continue his hard-nosed running during the home stretch of the regular season, giving Aaron Rodgers a competent running game that he hasn’t seen since 2014.
WR Davante Adams: Man, this guy is going to get P-A-I-D this upcoming spring, and it had better be by Green Bay. Each passing week Adams adds more value to his future contract, and he is projected to finish 2017 just shy of 1000 yards receiving yet again with a very solid chance to hit double-digit touchdowns for the second year in a row. Keep in mind that he is putting up these numbers with Brett Hundley at quarterback, so his production is definitely not a product of phenomenal quarterback play. Just like Williams, and the offense overall for that matter, Adams afternoon in Cleveland started out slow, but he turned on the jets starting in the fourth quarter. He scored not only the touchdown to tie up the game at the end of regulation, but he also took an overtime screen pass 25 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Add in some other key receptions and Adams finished the day with 10 catches for 84 yards and his two scores.
QB Brett Hundley: We’ve now had eight full games to sit back and diagnose Hundley’s ability, and honestly I have never seen such strange play from a quarterback in the NFL before. He is a completely different quarterback away from Lambeau Field, as two of his three wins came from away games and he actually looks like a competent NFL quarterback at times during them. The Cleveland game actually paints a pretty good picture of Hundley’s up-and-down play this season. Hot starts are the norm, as Hundley rarely has trouble driving the Packers down the field to put them in scoring position on the opening drive. Then he disappears throwing only 6-7 yard darts until the fourth quarter, where he channels his inner Aaron Rodgers and throws a clutch strike to Davante Adams with only 17 seconds remaining, bringing his record up to a better-than-initially expected 3-5 as the starter. He then goes a step above Rodgers, pulling out back-to-back overtime wins to keep this team’s playoff hopes alive. It makes absolutely no sense how he pulled this off when considering last week he looked like he would struggle to even find a spot on the Browns roster.
WR/PR Trevor Davis: It only took 14 weeks of the regular season, but Trevor Davis finally showed some of the burst on punt returns that enticed the Packers’ coaching staff this preseason. His 65-yard punt return with just under three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter may very well be the biggest reason as to how the Packers brought this game into overtime. It was certainly refreshing to see Davis finally break through on a punt return, as he almost weekly makes bone-headed decisions on deciding when to field a punt or let it sail over his head only to get downed within the five, much to the dismay of Packer Nation.
DC Dom Capers: For two weeks in a row now, the defense has struggled to slow down bottom-dwelling NFL offenses. Whether it’s making quarterbacks like Joe Flacco, Mitch Trubisky, or Deshone Kizer look like All-Pros, or allowing running backs to gash our talented front-seven for triple-digit numbers on the ground, Capers’ unit has struggled all season to force opposing offenses off the field. Everyone now and then a Packers’ defender picks off an errant pass (see Deshone Kizer’s asinine overtime interception), but more often then not the Packers’ defense struggles to even produce mediocre results on the field. For example, on the Browns’ first touchdown of the day, no one was in position to blanket the ultra-talented Josh Gordon and he scored for the first time in over three years against on a wide-open go ahead touchdown. This is absolutely inexcusable, as Gordon’s talent demands double-, if not triple-coverage down-in and down-out, yet Capers decided that LB Blake Martinez would be able to sufficiently cover him in zone defense with S Morgan Burnett over the top. If the Packers want to make it the big stage in the remainder of Aaron Rodgers’ career, I truly think it’s time for a change as it’s very apparent that Capers has lost a step.