It is arguably the best performance by the Packers offense since Greg Jennings missed his first game due to injury, in Kansas City late last season.
“I don’t know when I’ve seen him better,” Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements said of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who tied a team record by pitching six touchdown passes in the Packers’ 42-24 win in Houston on Sunday night.
It is also arguably the best performance by the Packers defense since their Super Bowl season, 2010, especially when the quality of the competition is considered.
“You go into games with certain musts you must do to win the game. We felt we had to control their zone running scheme,” Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said of a Packers defense that held Arian Foster, the league’s second-leading rusher heading into the game, to 29 yards rushing.
When is the last time the Packers’ offense and defense played at similarly high levels in the same game? Again, the answer would likely take us back to 2010.
At 3-3, the hope is the Packers turned a corner in their season in the win over the previously undefeated Texans, and can begin their march toward a fourth consecutive postseason berth.
“We weren’t that far off,” Clements said when asked what it was that ignited the offense in Houston. “We just weren’t clicking. The ball was in a location that the receivers could make a play on it and they made some outstanding plays.
“Last week (in a loss to the Colts), we were inconsistent. In this game, we played consistently well. We had good energy, good focus. We were able to get a good number of run attempts at them. That helped us when we had to throw.”
Rodgers said he “stepped into” one sack and blamed the Texans’ other sack on a blown adjustment call. He got the time he needed to throw, his receivers got open and Rodgers put the ball in their hands.
“If you can do it once, you can do it again,” Clements said.
Capers has a young defense’s arrow pointing decidedly upward, but he finds himself having to cope with injuries, especially at linebacker, where D.J. Smith was lost for the season to a knee injury in Houston, and Nick Perry’s status is uncertain following a knee injury Head Coach Mike McCarthy said looked worse than it’s now thought to be. That’s the good news.
“I’ve felt since training camp that we have more athletic ability and depth there,” Capers said of his corps of linebackers. “It’s one of the real keys in this business. You have to have depth.”
The Packers’ depth on defense will be at the test again. Smith replaced Desmond Bishop when the latter was lost for the season in the preseason opener. With Smith gone, the candidates to replace him would seem to be Brad Jones, Robert Francois and Jamari Lattimore.
“That’s why you tell these young guys you never know when your time is going to come, but you need to be ready when it comes. Hopefully, these guys can make us better as we go forward,” Capers said. Additional coverage - Oct. 15