The biggest storyline coming out of the Green Bay Packers’ 38-13 win over the New York Giants on Sunday is Jordy Nelson’s injury. While we still do not know exactly what the problem is, we know that Nelson had to leave the game in the first half after a hard hit to his left side and did not return.
With Nelson knocked out, the Packers turned to a rookie and a couple of veterans to pick up the slack. They did more than just pick up the slack, too; Randall Cobb exploded for his biggest game this season and arguably one of the best games of his career. He equaled a career playoff high in receiving yardage and equaled a career high (regular season or playoffs) by scoring three touchdowns.
Meanwhile on defense, the Packers used their nickel and dime defense to largely contain the Giants’ passing attack, only giving up a couple of big plays on the day. Here’s how the snaps broke down on both sides of the football.
OFFENSE (71 plays)
LT David Bakhtiari 71, LG Lane Taylor 71, C Corey Linsley 71, RG T.J. Lang 71, RT Bryan Bulaga 71, OT Jason Spriggs 2
Another clean sweep on the snap counts for the starting offensive line. This group’s continuity has been a critical factor in its ability to keep Aaron Rodgers upright for most of the season, and they had multiple plays where they kept a pocket intact for him for several seconds. Perhaps the most noticeable was on the Packers’ first touchdown, when Rodgers had about nine seconds before finding Davante Adams for a score.
QB Aaron Rodgers 71, RB Ty Montgomery 41, FB Aaron Ripkowski 25, RB Christine Michael 14, FB Joe Kerridge 1
Montgomery left the game for a period of time in the fourth quarter with an apparent leg injury, but it was a relief to see him return to the game later on. He was minimally effective running the football during the game, but added one huge reception for 34 yards in the second half. He was stuffed on a 4th-and-1 attempt from the Packers’ 42-yard line, but the playcall was a questionable off-tackle run on which Ripkowski was blown up trying to create a hole.
Michael gave the offense a burst when he entered the game early in the second half, busting off 27 yards on four straight carries. He runs with such a violent and powerful style that comes as a great change of pace to Montgomery.
Ripkowski had two carries, both on short yardage; he failed to convert a third and one before Montgomery’s failed fourth and one, but got into the end zone with great second and third efforts on a one-yard touchdown run.
WR Davante Adams 70, WR Randall Cobb 55, TE Jared Cook 49, WR Geronimo Allison 41, TE Richard Rodgers 25, WR Jeff Janis 16, WR Jordy Nelson 16
Nelson’s injury early set the table for Allison and Janis to get more work throughout the game. It was obvious early on that Cobb was going to eat into Allison’s snaps, but the rookie ended up playing a bigger role anyway. It is also plausible that the Packers used Jared Cook more as a result of Nelson’s injury. Jordy caught just one of his three targets, dropping a pass before taking the hit that knocked him out of the game.
Adams and Cobb were more effective with their targets, with Adams catching 8 of 12 for 125 yards and a score while Cobb hauled in 5 of 7 for 116 and a trio of touchdowns.
Despite his 41 snaps, Allison only saw two passes his way, catching one for 8 yards.
Cook had another solid game with around 50 receiving yards, moving the chains a few times. It’s possible that his best play, however, was dropping the football in the middle of the field with six seconds left in the first half. If he had caught it, the clock would have run out. Instead, the Packers got their Hail Mary to go into halftime up by 8 points.
DEFENSE (65 plays)
S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 65, S Morgan Burhett 65, CB Damarious Randall 65, CB LaDarius Gunter 65, S/CB Micah Hyde 65, S Kentrell Brice 23
As they did against the Giants in week five, the Packers played exclusively nickel and dime all game long, confident in their front six to stop the Giants’ rushing attack. They did, holding New York’s running backs to just 59 yards on 16 carries (a 3.7-yard average).
Instead, the Packers focused on the passing game and kept the Giants to just 6.8 yards per attempt. Furthermore, they allowed just three plays over 20 yards all game long - a 51-yard completion to tight end Will Tye, a 26-yarder to Sterling Shepard, and the 41-yard touchdown by Tavarres King.
OLB Clay Matthews 52, OLB Julius Peppers 48, ILB Jake Ryan 42, ILB Joe Thomas 42, ILB Blake Martinez 23, OLB Nick Perry 22, OLB Datone Jones 20, OLB Kyler Fackrell 15
This is an interesting breakdown; clearly Matthews and Peppers are the top options on the edge right now, considering they each had more than 75% of the defensive snaps compared to the smaller numbers for Perry and Jones. They each recorded a sack, with Matthews’ hit on Manning resulting in the hilarious forced fumble and eventual recovery. Peppers also added a pair of pass deflections at the line of scrimmage.
Fackrell’s 15 snaps was a high number for the rookie, though many of them came in the second half after the Packers had begun to pull away. Perhaps that was an effort to keep the veterans fresh and avoid burning them out once the result was in hand.
On the inside, Ryan had a big day, officially recording 12 tackles and three pass defenses. He was by far the best player among the three at his position, showing good coverage ability.
Mike Daniels 40, Letroy Guion 25, Kenny Clark 22, Dean Lowry 16
As always, Daniels was in the backfield regularly, and ended up with four solo tackles for his efforts. With all of the team’s snaps in nickel and dime, there were fewer snaps to go around for the linemen.