The Green Bay Packers defeated the Buffalo Bills 22-0 on Sunday, and they did so thanks to a dominating performance from beginning to end by their defense. It was a mix of both the expected contributors and a couple of surprising names who made the big plays in this game, however, and today we give out a game ball to a player who has been much-maligned by Packers fans over the last two-plus seasons.
On offense, it was a bit of a struggle for Aaron Rodgers and company. The Packers’ quarterback completed just over half of his passes and although there were a few drops, he was inconsistent with his accuracy. Rodgers’ overall line was 22-for-40 for 298 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, which was tipped twice by linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and tight end Jimmy Graham.
Instead, it was the Packers’ running game that was particularly effective, as the team posted 141 total rushing yards. That’s where we’ll start with today’s game balls.
RB Aaron Jones
Once again, the second-year back showed that he is absolutely the Packers’ best, most explosive runner. We’ll need to check the snap counts tomorrow to see how the total workload broke down between him, Jamaal Williams, and Ty Montgomery, but one can easily make an argument that Jones continues to be under-utilized.
He played the third series of the game after Williams and Montgomery got the first and second, respectively, then got the fourth, but seemed to be an afterthought for stretches in the third quarter. However, he more than doubled up Williams’ rushing yardage despite having the same number of carries — Jones had 11 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown, while Williams picked up just 27 yards on his 11 carries.
Jones had 50 total yards on his first series alone, including 30 on his first carry of the game. It continues to astound that McCarthy isn’t giving him more touches at this point, especially with the game well in hand in the fourth quarter.
LT David Bakhtiari
Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes recorded an absurd 15 quarterback pressures last week against the Minnesota Vikings, particularly left tackle Riley Reiff. He may have only brought Kirk Cousins down for one sack, but he made Cousins’ life a living hell for three hours.
This week, David Bakhtiari largely kept him in check. Hughes had no sacks in the game and although he had three tackles for loss in the run game, Bakhtiari did what he is paid the big bucks to do: keep elite pass rushers from getting to Aaron Rodgers. He did that, and we’ll want to see the pressure numbers to be sure, but the Bills’ overall lack of pass rush was a big reason for the Packers’ solid passing success in the first half of the game. It all starts with Bakh.
OLB Kyler Fackrell
We would be remiss if Fackrell were not included in this post today. Not only did he have a whopping three sacks of Josh Allen, but he also helped to bring down the Bills’ quarterback twice on scrambles up the middle. While one sack was probably of the lucky variety, his other two were excellent plays, including a great speed rush around right tackle Jordan Mills late in the game.
All told, he finished with four total tackles (he wasn’t credited with a tackle on one of the two scrambles), and he put together arguably his finest performance as a pro.
DTs Kenny Clark/Mike Daniels
It’s almost silly to separate these two players, as much of their success builds off of each other. Once again, Clark and Daniels were active all game long, helping to collapse the pocket regularly and allowing the Packers’ linebackers to clean up Allen. In addition, Clark helped track down Allen on one scramble, forcing and recovering a fumble for the Packers’ third turnover of the game.
With Muhammad Wilkerson injured and out for the year, the Packers need these two (along with Dean Lowry) to step up, and the two big names definitely held up their end of the bargain today.
Honorable Mention: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix & Mason Crosby
We have criticized Clinton-Dix here at APC much of this season for his tentative play, but he made one of the best plays of his career in this game. Diagnosing a throw from Josh Allen quickly, he broke to the sideline to attack a pass intended for Kelvin Benjamin. Clinton-Dix caught the football, laying a big incidental hit on Benjamin in the process.
Beyond that, Clinton-Dix was solid on the back end, with no glaring missed tackles or bad angles to speak of. He finished with four solo tackles and that interception, and play of that caliber will be very helpful for the Packers moving forward.
As for Crosby, he hit all three of his field goal attempts, including a pair from 52 yards out. He only gets an honorable mention, however, because of a point-after attempt that hit the right upright after the Packers’ opening touchdown.