By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
Despite victory, Green Bay has plenty of work to do during upcoming bye week
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The heck with the Packers’ bye week.
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It was nearly the “Ba bye” week – as in so long, adios, see you later – if not for Aaron Rodgers’ accuracy, Mason Crosby’s atonement and the Packers’ narrow 33-30 victory over the 49ers Monday night at Lambeau Field.
Trailing 30-23 late in the fourth quarter, Rodgers’ fast-break attack put up 10 points in the final two minutes.
First, Rodgers capped a four-play, 58-yard drive by hitting Davante Adams for a 16-yard touchdown to tie the game with 1:55 to play.
Then, after a Kevin King interception, Rodgers led a 10-play, 81-yard drive that set up Crosby’s game-winning 27-yard field goal at the final gun.
It was Rodgers and the offense at its finest. It was up-tempo and unstoppable. And it begged the question, “Where was that the first 57 minutes?”
Rodgers threw for 425 yards while hitting 25 of 46 with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 100.4 passer rating. He becomes the first quarterback in Packers’ history to throw for 400-plus yards in back-to-back games. And that’s with a bulky brace on a bum left knee.
Still, Rodgers’ late-game heroics lose a bit of luster as it becomes increasingly evident THIS is how the Packers are going to win, IF they’re going to win.
Whereas the Packers’ late victory against Chicago in the regular-season opener inspired awe, this one engendered relief.
So it is with a sigh, rather than a “sayonara,” that the Packers enter their bye.
No reasonable Packers fan views this win as a cure-all.
On the contrary, it was a much-needed victory that proved to be a microcosm of what’s ailing Green Bay. The Packers’ lack of discipline, be it on penalties or poor technique, is appalling.
Kentrell Brice is a huge liability at safety. It appears he doesn’t know what being “deeper than the deepest (receiver)” means. Perhaps he should find out what being “deeper than the deepest” on the bench means.
It’s harsh but true, especially because his poor play has detracted from an otherwise decent defensive secondary. Let’s be real. The Packers’ pass rush proved to be almost non-existent, again. They managed just two sacks and four hits on C.J. Beathard.
That has to get better.
Green Bay also had six penalties for 54 yards against the 49ers. It may not sound like much, but that’s only because Beathard threw an interception on their final possession. That drive began at the 49ers’ 47-yard line after the Packers’ Tony Brown drew an unnecessary roughness penalty on the kickoff.
Why Brown remains on the team is a mystery. There are 31 other teams in the NFL. Let him find gainful employment elsewhere. Is he that valuable that Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is willing to overlook not one, but two incredibly selfish penalties?
Brown shouldn’t have been on the roster, let alone the field, Monday night. If he remains on the team beyond the bye week it’s on McCarthy. Too many mistakes, such as continuing to play undisciplined or selfish players, add up to too many losses.
There are positives to take away.
Rodgers, who took yet another pounding, managed to stay in one piece until the bye. Undoubtedly he will use his time off wisely to come back and face the gauntlet: Four road trips in a five-game stretch beginning at the Rams and at the Patriots.
While Rodgers heals, Crosby can take a deep breath and relax. The Packers’ kicker rebounded after missing four field goals and a PAT at Detroit by going 4-for-4 including the game-winner.
“That’s exactly the way you want to see it end,” McCarthy said afterward. “Frankly, I wish he didn’t need to kick as many field goals as he did tonight, but yeah, definitely, that was a big bounce-back game for Mason and really for our football team. We needed that win.”
Adams, who caught 10 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns, was almost unstoppable. He was grateful for the ‘W’ but could do without the late-game drama.
“Winning is all that matters but definitely I don’t want to have a heart attack each week,” Adams said.
Adams’ young counterparts came up big. Marquez Valdes-Scantling had three catches for 103 yards, including a 60-yard bomb on the Packers’ opening play. Equanimeous St. Brown and J’Mon Moore also added a crucial catch each.
Meantime, Aaron Jones and the running game remain largely an afterthought, or so it seems.
Jones had 41 yards on eight carries with a long run of 16 yards. It came on his first carry of the game. After that, McCarthy acted like the Packers were playing behind by two scores.
The Packers need to find a run-pass balance for two reasons:
** First, it would give its defense a breather while moving the chains. Perhaps Green Bay’s defense is what it is – which is to say, it’s average at best – but that might be good enough in today’s NFL to give you a shot at a championship.
** Second, it would keep Rodgers upright. The Packers need to run the football more, period. The play-action pass can buy Rodgers the time his beat-up left knee can’t until it heals.
Rodgers was pleased but kept the win in perspective.
“I don’t know if it was a season-saving win for us, but definitely was an important one,” he said. “Especially with the prognosticating that will go on about the type of opponents we have coming up the next few weeks, and obviously them being road games, this was an important game for us.”
Rodgers sounded like realist, adding, “We’ll take a good, hard look at this and take a look at what we did well our first six weeks. We’re a couple plays away from being 4-2, 5-1, and definitely a couple plays from being the other way.
“So we’re thankful to be 3-2-1 right now and realize what’s in front of us, and how this type of play might not get it done against the next opponents. We’ve got to play better.”