Packer Hustle: Revenge is bliss
By the time I walked out of Lambeau Field after Green Bay's 27-17 exorcise-the-demons win over Seattle, my voice was hoarse from screaming. My back ached from the standing and sitting on those bleachers. My ears were ringing so loud I think they were actually producing noise for others to hear.
Holy crap it felt so good.
If there was ever a time when the Packers' season could end 14 games early without the people of Wisconsin bursting into angry flames, it would be now. This plucky win over such a villainous posse of nigh-Canadians is without doubt the most satisfying regular-season win in years for Green Bay fans.
1. Aaron Rodgers (Last week: No. 4)–This blog won't be all that much fun if Rodgers shows up in the No. 1 spot every blessed week. Henceforth he will judged by superhuman standards. His escapism from an unrelenting pass rush; his proclivity for Jedi mind tricks in luring defenders offside; the facemelter he launched – from an unbalanced posture – 29 yards into the end zone to James Jones; and the Russell Wilson trolling he pulled after the game warrant such standards.
2. Jayrone Elliott (Last week: NR)– This is my guy, and no it does not have anything to do with the fact that his last name is my first name – although it is important to point out the fact that he has two T's and I have one T. He is perhaps the second two-T person to receive my approval in human history, but again this is not about his name. This is about his clutch interception and clutch forced fumble. This is what two years of preseason playmaking had Dom Capers hoping for. Man, that is a good, strong name, though.
3. James Starks (Last week: NR)–If this guy hasn't earned your undying love, then you must be made of rusty tin. He was there for Green Bay during the Super Bowl run, and he was there after Eddie Lacy had to be removed on Sunday. Sure, he fumbled, but with 95 yards on 20 carries against Seattle, he proved he's still trusty.
4. The run defense (Last week: Doghouse No. 2)–Well, this was a surprise. Seattle's offensive line is in rough shape after trading away the starting center, but Chicago's isn't exactly a marvel, either, and it still put up 189 yards on the ground against Green Bay. Seattle was held to 119, while human threshing machine Marshawn Lynch topped out at 21. Several players from every line of defense made plays in the backfield. Fascinating developments in the annual “How bad is the defense really?” debate.
5. Randall Cobb (Last week: NR)–He is the steady hand of all Rodgers' weapons. He gathered eight passes for 116 yards rather evenly across four quarters and nearly always moved the chains or came within a yard of doing so. If he isn't your favorite then I don't even know.
Dropped from Leaderboard: James Jones (perhaps if his right butt cheek hadn't strayed out of bounds…), Mike McCarthy (bring back the beard), Clay Matthews (just couldn't make as many plays as a guy named Elliott, that's all).
1. David Bakhtiari (Last week: NR)–The name of the game against a D like Seattle's is “Give Your Quarterback Enough Time,” and Green Bay's O-line played well enough. But Seattle's Bruce Irvin flew by Bakhtiari so fast that maybe he thought this was flag football and the rules allowed a limited use of the arms. Bakhtiari also did a great impression of a blocking sled in the third quarter when Michael Bennett moved him a couple yards downfield and wolfed down Rodgers.
2. Outside linebackers (Last week: NR)–They didn't even have that bad of a night. Seriously, finding the goats of this game was hard. But they over-pursued on the read-option several times and good god, that still brings back night terrors of Colin Kaepernick. If the 'backers just stayed at home and chilled out on the edge, Wilson would have just given the ball to Lynch, who wasn't going anywhere anyway. Problem solved.
3. The god of injuries (Last week: NR)–Now weeks after Jordy Nelson's season-ending injury, the football god of injuries is low-key laying the hurt on the Packers. Sam Barrington and Josh Boyd's years are over. That isn't devastating, but could this be the beginning of another injury outbreak? A little Eddie Lacy ankle injury here, a Davante Adams ankle injury there, Bryan Bulaga busting his knee, NBD, whatever, these injuries can't keep pace like years past – you know that, I know that, everyone knows that. Ha. Haha.
Ascended out of the Doghouse: Sam Shields (had a quiet night in a good way), the run defense (squashed the Beast Mode) and HaHa Clinton-Dix (missed out on two interceptions).
Next week: Kansas City
What will be invited to remember more: the 50th anniversary of Super Bowl I or that time Mike McCarthy dissed Rodgers so hard by picking Alex Smith No. 1 in the NFL Draft?