I don't think anyone expected the Green Bay Packers would trail at halftime, and then need a late touchdown bomb to WR Jordy Nelson in order to defeat the Carolina Panthers. But I was very concerned about the ability of the defense to hold up against the deep passing attack from QB Cam Newton without CB Tramon Williams, and that's where the defense struggled.
The worst news was that S Nick Collins was on a stretcher in the fourth quarter. He was waving his arm while being taken off the field, so hopefully it's not too serious. He got his head snapped back when he took a shot from RB Jonathan Stewart. UPDATE: The Journal-Sentinel quoted McCarthy that the feedback on his injury "so far has been positive" and they reported that the only other injury is a sprained foot by DE Ryan Pickett. A foot injury on the big guy could be something that lingers for a while.
The offense did it's part by moving the ball for over 400 yards, and they scored three touchdowns with no turnovers. The penalties on offense were disappointing with at least three holding calls on the offensive line, and it's sure to be something that will annoy Mike McCarthy.
The offense got off to a very slow start because they couldn't get the ball. After a long opening drive by the Panthers, WR Randall Cobb fumbled the kickoff return when he ran into the back of a teammate, and it led to another 3 points for the Panthers. Not a great day for the special teams either.
The defense had trouble early in the game covering WR Steve Smith, TE Jeremy Shockey, and TE Greg Olsen. Smith was a major factor all game, though he had a costly fumble in the third quarter, while Shockey and Olsen were barely heard from after the first quarter. Most of the damage by the Panthers was done by Newton's runs, and his completions to Smith, WR Brandon LaFell, and RB Jonathan Stewart.
Watching the defense allow over 400 yards passing might seem like a disaster, it certainly wasn't their best day, but they also grabbed 3 INTs and forced the Panthers to kick three field goals and fail to convert on a fourth down near the goal line. The pass rush had a lot of trouble getting to Newton, and a lot of credit goes to the Panthers offensive line for a solid game. While CB Jarrett Bush (who else?) struggled to replace Williams, CB Charles Woodson had 2 INTs and recovered a fumble, and S Morgan Burnett had a sack and an INT. He also was credited for a couple of pass defenses, and forced that fumble on Smith.
It wasn't beautiful, but it was a win in which they led for almost the entire second half. The only major concern going forward is the health of Collins.