Football is often a game of numbers, and last night's 26-21 victory by the Green Bay Packers is no exception. After looking through the statistics and snap counts from yesterday's win over the New England Patriots, we can come to a few conclusions as well as put some of the teams' strategies into context.
Here are a few of the key numbers that help explain how the Packers were able to emerge victorious from the Week 13 slugfest.
That's the percentage of Packers' defensive snaps that inside linebacker A.J. Hawk played. Meanwhile, Clay Matthews played every one of the team's 56 snaps, while Sam Barrington was on the field for 47 (which was good for 84%).
The Packers missed seven tackles in this game. The safeties were the greatest offenders, as Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix missed two apiece. Still, the rookie from Alabama to helped make up for his struggles tackling with his play in coverage, allowing Rob Gronkowski just one catch for 14 yards on four targets into his primary coverage (per PFF). Perhaps most importantly, the stat sheet showed one official pass breakup for the rookie, which came on the incompletion to Gronkowski in the end zone on the Patriots' final drive.
That is how many snaps cornerback Casey Hayward played in this game, as the Packers favored the better tackling of Micah Hyde in the slot this week (he played 30 snaps). Also, despite Sam Shields being lost for the game after just 10 plays, Davon House took over for almost every other snap. That suggests that despite the coaching staff's (and Hayward's) comments that he can play on the outside, they either do not believe that, they did not like the matchups with Hayward on any of the Patriots' receivers, or they did not prepare him to play anywhere but the slot this week.
Aaron Rodgers targeted Davante Adams eleven times on Sunday, a season high. In fact, it was just the fourth game all season in which Adams was targeted more than four times. Adams caught 6 of those 11 passes for 121 yards, just over 20 yards per reception, and could have had a seventh reception and a touchdown if not for an ugly drop in the fourth quarter.
That's the combined number of defensive snaps played by Mike Neal (19), Nick Perry (10), and Jayrone Elliott (4), all primarily at the right outside linebacker position. Clay Matthews was on the field for every play, but spent substantial time at outside linebacker in place of these three rotational players, including in the Packers' nickel and dime packages. He's certainly not a full-time inside linebacker; at least not yet.
That was Aaron Rodgers' passer rating on throws that went more than 20 yards down-field in this game (as measured by Pro Football Focus). That stat line goes 5-for-8 for 171 yards and one touchdown. By comparison, Tom Brady's deep rating was just 46.3, thanks to his 1-for-5 day that went for just 23 yards.
Finally, here's a stat that shows just how good the Packers' pass protection was for Rodgers on Sunday:
Note: snap counts come from the NFL's official game statistics.