by Mark Metzler
Unable to put the game away early, the Green Bay Packers held off the Carolina Panthers, 24-16, as the Panthers slipped down the snowy field before being stopped inches short at the end of the game.
For fans, it’s getting nerve-wracking with the Packers doing all they can to keep their opponents in the game until the end. Yes, it certainly keeps things entertaining, but I’d like a few games that are easy wins. Maybe the team is waiting for the playoffs to put it all together. As a fan, that’s my hope because there are still a lot of holes. On the positive, if the team plays perfectly or close to perfectly, it does have a chance to play with any team.
Another positive is it’s another win. That puts the Packers at 8-2 and keeps the team in the lead in the NFC North. The Vikings are just a game behind and keep improving. Week 16 promises to be a big game in Minnesota.
The Packers looked strong offensively against the Panthers with Aaron Jones scoring three touchdowns. Jones looked every bit as impressive as the Panthers’ Christian McCaffery, one of the leading candidates for MVP this year. Jones and McCaffery are tied for the NFL lead in touchdowns at 14.
The passing game clicked for the most part, with Aaron Rodgers connecting with Davante Adams for several big gains and over 100 yards. The Panthers did get a good deal of pressure, something that will need to be mitigated as the Packers get closer to the playoffs
The decision to go for the touchdown at the end of the first half was gutty. It turned out negatively as the Panthers’ Gerald McCoy stuffed Jamaal Williams, but it was the right call, I think. head coach Matt La Fleur had the chance to essentially end the game right there. I give him a lot of credit for trying, and it is good he has that instinct to try to seize the moment.
The calls went the Packers’ way in the first half, no doubt. The roughing call against McCoy in the end zone was bad. But that does happen, and those calls will even out over time. Packers fans will remember the brutal roughing calls against Clay Matthews last year that cost the Packers games.
Given the dominant opening drive at the beginning of the second half, I thought the Packers would put the game away in short order, but the Panthers kept driving. If it weren’t for the Tramon Williams interception in the end zone, the Panthers would have put up points on that drive. It was one of the few bad plays by Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen, who set a career high in yards.
Allen is a good young quarterback who is going to get better, and it was good not to see Cam Newton. I don’t miss Newton. Sure, he’s dynamic, but I’ve always had the impression that he felt he was more important than his team. It appears the Panthers have that impression as well. If they cut him loose after the season, they will save $19.1 million next year. That can go a long to improving an already good Panthers team. They do need help defensively. Who knows, maybe Newton will end up with the Bears.
Let’s face it, the defense has a lot of work to do to get to average. Yes, the addition of the Smiths and Adrian Amos has improved the team, but other teams still move through the Packers easily at times. I wonder if defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will get more aggressive as the season goes on. Perhaps, he doesn’t want to tip his hand. Again, maybe I’m just being hopeful. So, the question becomes is that going to be enough to win with an offense that keeps improving (with the exception of the Chargers’ game)? Maybe. We’re going to learn a lot more after the bye week when the Packers play the San Francisco 49ers, a game that just became more important with the 49ers’ loss to the Seahawks.