This was a big game anyway, but now QB Brett Favre's injury is the big story of the game. Having Favre's old QB coach Steve Mariucci on at halftime to say it looked like Favre's hand went numb when his elbow got hit was as good as I could ever expect from game commentary. It looked like he hit his right elbow on the Dallas player's helmet and he got a Charley horse. Favre said it's no big deal:
- The first two drives frustrated Favre. He threw to WR James Jones on 3 plays during the first drive, but Jones only caught one pass. Then Jones had another incompletion on the 2nd drive. My best guess is that is why Favre decided he had to start forcing the ball deep into double coverage down field. S Ken Hamlin had one interception, and there were a couple other deep passes could have been intercepted. Forcing the ball deep is what Favre did in 2005 and 2006 when the offense struggled and he was trying to jump start a struggling unit. I have no idea why he decided he needed to play that way tonight.
- CB Al Harris ripped the ball out of WR Terrell Owens' hands, but got to keep the ball because his forward progress was stopped. That was a strange play so I'm not surprised the refs had problems with it, but that was a crap call and it should have been Packers' ball.
- The Packers pass rush can't get anywhere near Romo early in the game, and he found receivers in single or no coverage all game long. The defense was able to come up with a stop on two 3rd downs and two promising scoring drives were stopped as field goals.
- The special teams played well, but not on kick coverage. K Mason Crosby had two open field tackles to save TDs and Dallas had excellent field position almost the entire game. The special teams has got to improve their kick coverage.
- I've been defending the Packers run offense for weeks now and RB Ryan Grant's long TD run is one example of the reason why. Despite an official ranking as the worst run offense in the NFL, they are actually one of the better run offenses. However the pass offense has been even better, so they pass more than they run. Grant isn't an elite back, but he's good at finding the opening, making one cut upfield, and then running hard. His big TD run got some points on the board while the defense was trying to find something that worked.
- This was the worst game I have ever saw Harris play. He acknowledged it on occasion, but he wasn't ready for what Dallas was doing in this game. He just is what he is at this point in his career and he is not a shut down cornerback. He can take on a guy like WR Roy Williams one-on-one, but he needs help against someone playing as great as WR Terrell Owens. Unfortunately he also let WR Patrick Crayton go wide open on another occasion, so he's got a lot of film to watch too.
- A Dallas punt! The Packers rarely blitz, but the pass rush wasn't getting anywhere near Romo. Two things happened at this point to change the defensive fortunes. LB A.J. Hawk started blitzing and played closer to the line. He didn't get a sack, but the five man rush gave the pass rush a jump start. DE Aaron Kampman started beating RT Marc Columbo. Columbo played ok, but two false start penalties didn't help his overall game performance either.
- LG Daryn Colledge went out late in the 1st quarter, RG Jason Spitz moved over to left guard, and RG Junius Coston came into the game. The switch probably contributed to all the pressure in Favre's face while he was in the game, but after QB Aaron Rodgers came in, the line appeared to settle down. LT Chad Clifton is having a solid season, but he struggled in this game to keep DE DeMarcus Ware in check.
- QB Aaron Rodgers. This preseason he finally showed off some of the potential that made him a 1st round pick and he showed it again in this game. Rodgers didn't force it downfield like Favre, and started finding receivers in single coverage in all different parts of the field. His ability to run for an occasional first down was something Dallas never expected since Favre never does it.
- Stuffing Dallas on 4th down. I expected the run defense would struggle against RB Marion Barber III and Dallas' big offensive line, but they played very well. The defensive line got pushed around on some plays, but DT Ryan Pickett also made a few big plays against the run too. The linebackers did a good job at filing the running lanes. Barber and Jones still combined for over 100 yards, but the Dallas run offense wasn't a big part of the game. Rookie 1st round DT Justin Harrell had his first extended playing time with the injuries to DT Johnny Jolly and DE KGB, and he appeared to hold his position pretty well.
- Rodgers took a couple sacks in the game, but he wasn't holding the ball too long. Dallas' pass rush was very good and Rodgers played a great game.
- The 2nd half was where the penalties really added up. CB Jarrett Bush had his big 40 yard interference penalty in the 1st half, but S Atari Bigby had his two personal fouls and CB Tramon Williams had his big 42 yard interference penalty in the 4th quarter. Penalties had been a problem, they went away for a couple of weeks, and now they came back big time in this game. Some of the calls were marginal, but I'm not going to pile on the refs because the defenders gave them a reason to throw the flags. Bush and Williams are essentially 1st year players. They have to learn when to back off a little on a guy like WR Miles Austin (he made two big offensive plays without catching a pass!) and make that 4th WR go out and make a highlight reel catch to beat you. Bigby tries so damn hard on the field, but he has just been killing the team with penalties. When S Aaron Rouse is healthy again he has to start ahead of Bigby.
- It was disappointing to see them kick a field goal instead of going for it on 4th down, but they needed two scores and Crosby has the leg to make that kick (which he did). The defense didn't stop Dallas from a final score to put the game out of reach, but Mike McCarthy has to give his defense the opportunity.