Packers keep finding solutions as they work through injuries
|Toronto Star 11 Oct 2021 at 18:52|
They’re missing their 2020 All-Pro left tackle, their best pass rusher and their top cornerback. They’re not scoring as frequently or winning as decisively as they did last season.
Yet somehow and some way, the Green Bay Packers have made it through the first five games of the season with the same 4-1 record they owned a year ago.
They’re just making their victories a little more suspenseful this year. Consider the Packers’ on Sunday a prime example.
“That just goes to show the type of men we have in our locker room,” Packers linebacker De’Vondre Campbell said after the game. “Nobody flinched. Nobody complained. Nobody did anything but their job and we were able to handle business and get the victory. That’s what good football teams do. They find a way to get it done.”
Twice in the last three weeks, the Packers have nearly lost a game they controlled most of the way, only to find a way to win at the end. Mason Crosby has played a major role both times, for very different reasons.
Crosby kicked a 51-yarder as time expired to give the Packers a 30-28 victory at San Francisco after the 49ers scored a go-ahead touchdown with 37 seconds left. In the Bengals game, to keep the Packers from wrapping up the victory before he finally made a 49-yarder in overtime.
“We stuck together and that’s all that mattered at the end,” running back Aaron Jones said. “We didn’t blink or flinch. That’s the testament of a good team.”
So is the Packers’ ability to withstand injuries.
David Bakhtiari, the 2020 All-Pro left tackle, hasn’t played all season. Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith and cornerback Zaire Alexander – both Pro Bowl picks last year – are on injured reserve and won’t return anytime soon.
The Packers also played Sunday’s game without 2020 Pro Bowl selection Elgton Jenkins and starting center Josh Myers on the offensive line. Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling missed a second straight game.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) pumps his fist as he leaves the field following an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021.
“There are some guys in that locker room and guys that played, they weren’t with this football team in August and weren’t with this football team in June,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “A lot of big plays and high-volume play counts for guys who we didn’t count on being important.”
Those types of contributions have helped the Packers continue figuring out ways to win when they’re not at full strength.
The top playmakers on offense – Rodgers, Jones and 2020 All-Pro receiver Davante Adams – are making plays. This marked the first time in franchise history that the Packers had a 300-yard passer, 100-yard rusher and 200-yard receiver in the same game.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
Packers opponents have scored touchdowns every single time they’ve reached the red zone this season. The red-zone offense also struggled Sunday. The Packers settled for a field goal after having first-and-goal at the 6 early in the fourth quarter. Later in the period when the game was tied, the Packers had first-and-goal at the 18 and ended up missing a field goal.
Adams had 11 catches for a career-high 206 yards and one touchdown. He has 42 receptions for 579 yards this season to lead the NFL in both categories. … Campbell continued his fast start to the season by intercepting a pass in overtime.
Crosby had his worst day as a pro since Oct. 4, 2018, when he missed four field goals and an extra point in a 31-23 loss to the Detroit Lions. This time, Crosby missed three field goals and an extra point before making the winner in overtime. … TE Robert Tonyan, who had 11 touchdown catches last season, was held below 10 yards receiving for the fourth time in five games.
CB Kevin King joined the long list of injured Packers when he hurt a shoulder Sunday.
“He was playing a lot of that game, or part of that game, with basically one arm,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said Monday. “So I thought he competed well and was playing really, really well.”
2 – number of field-goal attempts Crosby had missed since the start of the 2019 season heading into Sunday.
The Packers go back on the road to face the Chicago Bears, who are a game behind them in the NFC North after on Sunday. This is the second game in a five-game stretch that features four road contests.