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Analysis: Green Bay Packers defeat Bills 31-21

This was another impressive win. While the first team offense and defense were on the field, the Green Bay Packers jumped out to a 21-0 lead and Buffalo committed 3 turnovers. RB Ryan Grant ran well and QB Aaron Rodgers had time to find open receivers. The defensive front seven were constantly in Buffalo's backfield, and QB Trent Edwards was usually on the run. It was by far Buffalo's worst preseason game this season. 

Unfortunately there were a couple injuries. According to Tom Pelissero:

  • QB Matt Flynn had a shoulder sprain but he feels OK.
  • S Nick Collins has bruised ribs. The x-rays were negative, but he'll probably take it slowly next week.
  • Undrafted rookie TE Devin Frischknecht was taken to the hospital with a shin injury. 

There aren't a lot of starting jobs being fought for in training camp. DT B.J. Raji is trying to start ahead of DE Johnny Jolly, but it seems like a given that Raji will be the starter at some point. LB Clay Matthews, LB Jeremy Thompson, and LB Brady Poppinga are battling for the starting outside LB spot, but Poppinga is winning that by default as the others are still being held out with injuries. On the offensive line, C Scott Wells outplayed RG Josh Sitton in this game while RT Allen Barbre outplayed RT Breno Giacomini, but Pete Dougherty believes Sitton is ahead of Wells. One play shouldn't knock a player out of a starting job, but the one block that Giacomini blew led to Flynn's injured throwing shoulder, so it's a bit more glaring.

Yes, it was just one game, and yes, it was just one preseason game, but it couldn't have gone much better. Continue after the jump for the complete game review.

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For my complete game review, I'm using the play-by-play.

First Quarter

(13:06) (Shotgun) 23-M.Lynch left tackle to BUF 29 for -1 yards (77-C.Jenkins).

It's good to see DE Cullen Jenkins healthy and busting into the opponent's backfield again.

(12:36) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 5-T.Edwards pass deep left intended for 83-L.Evans INTERCEPTED by 51-B.Poppinga (36-N.Collins) at BUF 45. 51-B.Poppinga to BUF 37 for 8 yards (63-G.Hangartner).

The refs have their preseason too. S Nick Collins got to WR Lee Evans early and they could have called pass interference. But Collins still looked great, he seemed to be all over the field, before they pulled him early due to a rib injury.

(11:18) 25-R.Grant right tackle to BUF 23 for 1 yard (95-K.Williams, 99-M.Stroud).

If your keeping track whether C Scott Wells or RG Josh Sitton should start, DT Marcus Stroud shoved Sitton aside to tackle RB Ryan Grant at the line of scrimmage.

(8:57) 25-R.Grant left tackle to BUF 17 for -2 yards (56-K.Ellison).

Getting stuffed on 4th and 1 might be a sign that the Packers' offensive line is struggling. Buffalo committed all their linebackers into the middle determined to stop the run. On this play, there were just more defenders then blockers on the line. This overcommitment comes back to bite them.

(8:53) 5-T.Edwards sacked at BUF 9 for -3 yards (97-J.Jolly).

(7:43) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 5-T.Edwards sacked at BUF 5 for -7 yards (97-J.Jolly). FUMBLES (97-J.Jolly), RECOVERED by GB-50-A.Hawk at BUF 5. 50-A.Hawk to BUF 5 for no gain (5-T.Edwards).

It was a nice play by DE Johnny Jolly, but I can't say enough how about unimpressed I was by Buffalo's offensive line. They played back on their heels the entire game. The 1st string defense killed them with speed from the linebackers and power from the defensive lineman. On the sack, LB A.J. Hawk and LB Brandon Chillar just ran right around the offensive lineman in a second. QB Trent Edwards was either running for his life or throwing quick 5 yard outs to avoid the rush. Buffalo's O-line wasn't good last season and they jettisoned three starters, including current Packer C Duke Preston, from that group. They're rebuilding their line, and it's just not ready. 

(7:33) 12-A.Rodgers pass short left to 85-G.Jennings for 5 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Once again, Buffalo run blitzed their linebackers to fill the gaps in a short yardage situation. This time, QB Aaron Rodgers dropped back and hit WR Greg Jennings on a quick slant. The cornerback was outside and Rodgers threw it inside where there were no linebackers back in coverage. 

(4:09) 12-A.Rodgers pass short right to 88-J.Finley to BUF 35 for 21 yards (20-D.Whitner).

This was one of many plays by TE Jermichael Finley. He was showing off what he can do in the passing game. He was running by their linebackers and is too big for their corners and safeties. He showed the same thing last week vs. Cleveland. He'll have to prove it during the regular season too, but so far, he's looking like a big, dangerous target in the middle of the field.

The Packers march down 79 yards for their 2nd TD. The offense looked great, but this was some plain vanilla defense. They used a four man rush that wasn't providing enough pass pressure, their linebackers were focused on the run, and their secondary and linebackers were getting killed in single coverage. The offense looked better than the defense, but their defense would have played it differently during the regular season.

(:29) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 5-T.Edwards pass short left to 22-F.Jackson to BUF 43 for 13 yards (21-C.Woodson).

This was the first play I noticed with DT B.J. Raji and he dropped into pass coverage. He seemed to have no trouble with the Buffalo offensive line, but you could say the same thing for Jolly and Jenkins. Like I said above, I wasn't impressed at all with Buffalo's O-line.

Second Quarter

(13:59) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 5-T.Edwards pass short middle to 22-F.Jackson to BUF 41 for 4 yards (77-C.Jenkins). FUMBLES (77-C.Jenkins), RECOVERED by GB-51-B.Poppinga at BUF 41. 51-B.Poppinga to BUF 41 for no gain (63-G.Hangartner).

The fumble was all Jenkins. He read the screen, avoided all the offensive lineman trying to block him, and stripped RB Fred Jackson. It's the 2nd turnover for LB Brady Poppinga who's been in the right place at the right time on both of them.

(13:15) 25-R.Grant left guard to BUF 22 for 14 yards (20-D.Whitner, 24-T.McGee).

In the battle for the starting right tackle job, RT Breno Giacomini blew open the entire middle of the field for Grant to run through on this play.

(12:08) 12-A.Rodgers pass short left to 25-R.Grant to BUF 10 for 13 yards (92-R.Denney).

The Packers are usually lousy on screen passes, but this one worked. C Scott Wells came off clean and made a block to spring Grant for a few extra yards.

(10:54) 12-A.Rodgers pass short right to 80-D.Driver for 5 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

The description doesn't show Rodgers scrambling and waiting for WR Donald Driver to get open. The pass was behind Driver, but the defender couldn't get to it.

(7:12) 32-B.Jackson right end ran ob at BUF 46 for 4 yards (43-B.Scott). PENALTY on GB-78-A.Barbre, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at 50 - No Play.

By this point, RT Allen Barbre is behind Giacomini in the starting right tackle battle. 

(3:57) (No Huddle) 14-R.Fitzpatrick up the middle to BUF 34 for 1 yard (55-D.Bishop).

This could have been a big play for Buffalo. The coverage was great, but the defensive lineman were blocked and lost contain. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had the entire middle of the field open, but LB Desmond Bishop kept his contain and tackled him.

(3:16) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 14-R.Fitzpatrick pass incomplete deep right to 17-J.Jenkins (29-A.Smith).

I'm really starting to like free agent S Anthony Smith, but then he drops a INT thrown right to him. That doesn't mean he isn't a good backup, but I can see he's talented and I can also see why he lost his starting job in Pittsburgh.

(2:00) 11-B.Brohm pass short right to 87-J.Nelson ran ob at GB 32 for 10 yards (26-A.Youboty).

(1:54) (Shotgun) 11-B.Brohm pass short middle to 87-J.Nelson to GB 45 for 13 yards (30-K.Simpson).

(1:31) (Shotgun) 11-B.Brohm pass incomplete deep right to 89-J.Jones (46-E.Lankster). PENALTY on BUF-46-E.Lankster, Defensive Pass Interference, 34 yards, enforced at GB 45 - No Play.
(1:06) (Shotgun) 11-B.Brohm pass short left intended for 82-R.Martin INTERCEPTED by 27-R.Corner at BUF 9. 27-R.Corner to BUF 12 for 3 yards (82-R.Martin).

I'm a fan of QB Brian Brohm. He's clearly the 3rd QB on the roster, but that doesn't mean he isn't getting better. He's a talented pocket passer. He showed a little of it on back-to-back completions to WR Jordy Nelson. Unfortunately he then threw too late and behind to WR James Jones, but the defender hit Jones as he was trying to catch up to the play. The interception wasn't intended for WR Ruvell Martin; he was trying to hit Nelson underneath but he overthrew it. Either way, the pass that was intercepted was a bad decision.

(:41) (Shotgun) 14-R.Fitzpatrick sacked at BUF 26 for -5 yards (59-B.Jones). FUMBLES (59-B.Jones), RECOVERED by GB-55-D.Bishop at BUF 26. 55-D.Bishop to BUF 26 for no gain (79-J.Scott).

As if the Packers didn't have enough tough choices at linebacker. LB Nick Barnett was still held out for this game, but rookie 7th round pick LB Brad Jones was finally cleared to play. He beat the right tackle on the pass rush and he played well in pass coverage. If he keeps this up, they might have no choice but to make room for him on the roster.

Third Quarter

(14:52) 28-K.Lumpkin right end to GB 45 for -5 yards (97-J.McCargo). FUMBLES (97-J.McCargo), recovered by GB-60-D.Preston at GB 37. 60-D.Preston to GB 37 for no gain (53-M.Buggs).

RG Evan Dietrich-Smith got beat and let DT John McCargo hit RB Kregg Lumpkin in the backfield. Lumpkin still should have held onto the ball.

(12:53) 7-J.Kapinos punts 47 yards to BUF 2, Center-61-B.Goode. 26-A.Youboty to BUF 2 for no gain (82-R.Martin). PENALTY on GB-16-B.Swain, Interference with Opportunity to Catch, 15 yards, enforced at BUF 6.

I keep reading Tweets about the great camp WR Brett Swain is having. He hasn't played much as a receiver in the first two preseason games, and he blew it on special teams. With all the good receivers in camp, he can't afford to have another bad play like this again. 

P Jeremy Kapinos looked good on five punts, but he'll have to keep it up.

(11:57) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 14-R.Fitzpatrick pass deep right to 13-St.Johnson to BUF 48 for 24 yards (27-W.Blackmon).

Buffalo had a lot more success passing the ball in the 2nd half. The Packers' 3rd string defense came in and didn't provide much pass rush. Outside LB Spencer Havner and LB Cyril Obiozor have made some noise in camp, but they couldn't near the QB in this game. Although rookie DE Jarius Wynn and DE Ronald Talley did a pretty good job at getting into the backfield on a couple plays.

(8:41) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 14-R.Fitzpatrick pass short right to 88-J.Stupar to GB 21 for 12 yards (24-J.Bush). Green Bay challenged the pass completion ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #1.)

The refs in preseason form; the pass bounced off the turf before it was "caught". But it didn't matter...

(8:17) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 14-R.Fitzpatrick pass short left intended for 33-D.Rhodes INTERCEPTED by 55-D.Bishop at GB 17. 55-D.Bishop to GB 20 for 3 yards. Lateral to 29-A.Smith to GB 20 for no gain (73-K.Chambers). GB-33-B.Underwood was injured during the play. PENALTY on GB-33-B.Underwood, Illegal Block Above the Waist, 10 yards, enforced at GB 20.

Next time, don't lateral it. But otherwise it was great play as Bishop jumped all over the quick slant.

(7:31) 11-B.Brohm pass incomplete short right to 45-Q.Johnson (96-C.Bryan).

Buffalo DE Copeland Bryan was a pain in the butt. He shoved Barbre back into Brohm on this play.

(7:26) (Shotgun) 11-B.Brohm pass short left to 46-D.Frischknecht to GB 12 for 1 yard (54-N.Harris). GB-46-D.Frischknecht was injured during the play.

I don't like to see anyone hurt, but I was pulling for undrafted rookie TE Devin Frischknecht. He was taken to the hospital with a shin injury. I would be shocked if he's not placed on I.R. this week.

(5:42) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 14-R.Fitzpatrick pass short middle to 15-F.Huggins to GB 48 for 15 yards (40-J.Porter).

I'm picking on CB Joe Porter here, he was the chief offender, but the same can be said for CB Trevor Ford and CB Brandon Underwood. They're all fighting for the 5th cornerback spot, or maybe a job on the practice squad. I don't know if it's how they play, or if by design, but they all gave a lot of cushion. They're all great in coming up in run support and they appear to be good tacklers. But Buffalo came back in the game because the tight coverage and the pass rush vanished.

(1:13) (No Huddle) 14-R.Fitzpatrick pass short middle to 88-J.Stupar for 9 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Rookie LB Brad Jones was in on the coverage, but he was all over the tight end in coverage. Somehow the pass missed hitting Jones and the tight end grabbed it.

Fourth Quarter

(12:24) 10-M.Flynn sacked at GB 18 for -8 yards (96-C.Bryan). FUMBLES (96-C.Bryan), recovered by GB-68-B.Giacomini at GB 16. 68-B.Giacomini to GB 16 for no gain (93-C.Ellis).

Well if you're wondering how Barbre beat Giacomini for the starting right tackle job, this might have been the play. He was beat by Bryan to the outside. QB Matt Flynn had his night cut short because he Bryan hit him while he was throwing.

(4:53) 23-T.Sutton left end pushed ob at BUF 41 for 10 yards (71-A.Etukeren). PENALTY on BUF-46-E.Lankster, Face Mask (15 Yards), 15 yards, enforced at BUF 41.

Rookie LT Jamon Meredith looked good on this drive. On this play, he cleared the left side open for RB Tyrell Sutton. He's still behind LT Tony Moll for the backup spot and still in a major fight to make the roster.

(4:07) 23-T.Sutton left tackle to BUF 11 for 10 yards (21-J.Wendling).

(3:25) 11-B.Brohm pass short right to 19-K.Heckendorf to BUF 3 for 8 yards (47-C.Harris).

(2:55) 23-T.Sutton right tackle for 3 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

WR Kole Heckendorf, the pride of Mosinee, is still a long shot to make the roster. I don't know against who he is competing. I guess it's possible he could beat out WR Ruvell Martin. But he really looked good; showing good hands while taking some big hits.

Sutton followed up a great first preseason game with another one. But he still is the last running back given playing time, so I would guess the coaches still have him behind Lumpkin and RB DeShawn Wynn.

(2:03) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 10-G.Hamdan pass short right to 44-X.Omon to GB 10 for 52 yards (40-J.Porter).

There were about three blown tackles on this play. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers is going to burst a blood vessel when he watches this replay.

(1:49) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 10-G.Hamdan pass incomplete short left to 88-J.Stupar [94-J.Wynn]. PENALTY on GB-29-A.Smith, Defensive Pass Interference, 9 yards, enforced at GB 10 - No Play.

Back to what I was saying about Smith on the dropped INT; he makes a couple good plays but then mixes them in with a bad one. Although I couldn't see the pass interference on this one.