GREEN BAY – The Packers offense put together its best game in over a month last Sunday. The 30 points scored were the unit’s most since Week 3.
All is not fixed, however, not when Aaron Rodgers completes less than 50 percent of his passes and the receivers see plays on the game tape they feel they should have made.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” said receiver James Jones, who broke out of his own slump with six catches for 109 yards and a TD against the Vikings.
“We came in, watched the film, and there were a lot of plays we still left out there that we felt like could have really busted that game open. Yeah, it got better, but still a lot of work to do to get to where we’re trying to go.”
If the run game is indeed back on track, that will help, and with a balanced attack, Rodgers isn’t likely to go 16-of-34 again.
The Vikings defense was stingy in its own territory, but it didn’t sit well to settle for three early field goals. Two fourth-quarter possessions – one that started near midfield and another on Minnesota’s side – also produced just one field goal, and the offense was bothered by feeling like it let the Vikings hang around too long.
“Those things stick with me,” receiver Randall Cobb said of an open-field drop on third-and-11, just before Mason Crosby’s fifth field goal late in the game. Cobb had a TD catch but only one other reception. “I work on them through practice, pay attention to detail and make sure I’m on top of my game for the next week.
“There were a lot of opportunities we didn’t connect on.”
Chicago brings the fourth-ranked pass defense in the league into Thursday night’s game. It’s a unit several Packers have commented is playing faster, more aggressive and more confident than back in Week 1, when new head coach John Fox was getting his systems installed.
The last two weeks, the Packers have gotten back to playing their kind of defense, too. Cobb emphasized that the defense’s play in Minnesota, which included six sacks, “energized the team.” It was the first game since the Week 3 rout of Kansas City that Green Bay’s offense and defense seemed to feed off each other.
The wins over San Francisco and St. Louis featured a strong, turnover-producing defense, but fits and starts on offense. Against San Diego, the offense was just trying to stay ahead while the defense struggled to stop the pass.
The complementary play was part of the fourth-quarter comebacks against Carolina and Detroit, but the rallies fell short. Last Sunday, it finally came together for an extended period of time again, and the relentless pass rush down the stretch proved to be the closer.
“It starts with stopping the run and on offense getting a comfortable lead,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “They kind of abandoned the run game. I’m not sure how many runs they had in the second half, not a lot. The more points we put up, the more situations we’re allowed to turn our guys loose.”
Every team plans for games to go that way, of course, but they rarely follow the ideal script. If it plays out that way again, however, they certainly won’t complain.
“We don’t like to talk about what we did last week, because we have to do it again,” linebacker Julius Peppers said. “You’re always being evaluated, so you always have to perform. It goes week to week, but it’s not a thing that’s hard to sustain, because we did it, we saw it.
“If we could do it last week, why can’t you do it every week? That’s the attitude we’re going forward with.”
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