Aaron Rodgers, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, is known for his rallying cries in times of despair. In 2014, Rodgers famously told “Packer land” to R-E-L-A-X. In 2016, he accurately predicted his squad could “run the table.” Both seasons ended in an NFC championship appearance. However, heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Dolphins, Rodgers offered a less dramatic proclamation.
“We need to play better.”
The Packers answered, defeating the Miami Dolphins 31-12 on Sunday with a spectacular showing of offensive talent and defensive competence. Rodgers had the hot hand throughout the day, connecting through the air with seven different targets for a total of 199 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, running back Aaron Jones dominated with 145 yards rushing on 15 carries and two touchdowns of his own.
The defense kept the Dolphins out of the end-zone the whole game, their 12 points all coming from the leg of kicker Jason Sanders. Packers corner back Bashaud Breeland finally made his presence known with an excellent interception in coverage, while the Green Bay pass rush kept the pressure on Dolphins quarterback Brock Osweiler all day, resulting in six sacks and multiple forced releases.
“I think for the most part scheme definitely helps,” Packers linebacker Clay Matthews stated post-game. “There’s a lot of guys involved in the pass rush. And I’m not just talking about four-man rush, I’m talking about the pressures, blitzes on third down. Guys just won their one-one-ones as well.”
Aside from the on-field production, a lot of the magic on Sunday came from the sidelines with a balanced gameplay by Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. The intermediate use of Aaron Jones laid a great foundation for the passing game, and McCarthy even dialed up a direct snap fake punt that went for 26 yards. This is exactly the kind of play calling Green Bay has been missing all season.
All things considered, this was great team win for the Packers. However, Green Bay generally puts on a show at their home stadium of Lambeau Field. The challenge now is repeating their successes on the road. In the final half of the season, the Packers head into some hostile territories, the first of which is Seattle. The Packers will once again test their offensive consistency against the Seahawk’s “bend but don’t break” defensive mentality. The Packers defense will likewise need to contain Russell Wilson, the shifty Seahawks quarterback.
Green Bay is back on track for now, but will certainly have more challenges to face in the weeks to come.