The Green Bay Packers defeated the Houston Texans 35-20 on Sunday, winning a game comfortably for the fourth time in six games in 2020. The game rarely even felt like a two-possession game, thanks to an excellent first half in all phases that set the team out to a 21-0 lead at the break.
With several key contributors out, however, the Packers shuffled the deck a bit in the backfield, the offensive line, and the secondary. But it was an in-game injury and a benching that led to one of the team’s 2020 rookies making an auspicious debut — fifth-round linebacker Kamal Martin took over for Krys Barnes and Ty Summers and largely played well in his first NFL action.
Meanwhile, it was a light workload for rookie running back AJ Dillon on Sunday, despite a matchup — and a flow to the game — that seemed primed for him to take over a bigger chunk of the workload. Whatever the reason, he barely ate into Jamaal Williams’ snap or carry advantage, despite the Packers holding a multiple-possession lead for most of the game.
Here’s a look at the playing time breakdown and the box score stats from Sunday’s win.
OFFENSE (62 total)
Aaron Rodgers 60, Tim Boyle 2
The Packers got a nice bounce-back game from Rodgers, and the team moved to 6-0 in the Lone Star State with Rodgers starting. His 23-for-34 day racked up 283 yards, giving him 8 yards per attempt or more in every one of the Packers’ wins this season and nearly getting him back to 8 overall on the season. He also threw four touchdown passes, giving him 17 for the year and ten in just two games in Houston.
Rodgers also did not take a sack a week after taking four, and his 8.51 ANY/A for the season leads the NFL.
Boyle got into his fifth game this season, his fourth as the team’s designated kneel-down specialist.
Jamaal Williams 55, AJ Dillon 14
With no Aaron Jones and no Tyler Ervin, plus the Houston defense ripe for the picking on the ground, most Packers fans — this writer included — expected a heavy dose of AJ Dillon to complement Williams. Instead, Williams had almost all of the workload, with 19 carries for 77 yards and a score, while Dillon toted the rock just five times for 11 yards. Williams added four receptions for 37 yards as well, giving him over 100 yards from scrimmage for the eighth time in his career and the second time this season (he had 10 rushing and 95 receiving yards against Atlanta). Williams’ 77 rushing yards were also the most since he put up 104 in last year’s week six win over the Detroit Lions.
Davante Adams 57, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 51, Darrius Shepherd 29, Malik Taylor 10, Equanimeous St. Brown 3
The Packers fed Adams early and often in this game, and he showed up in a big way. His 13 receptions were one short of the franchise record of 14, which he tied earlier this season, and his 196 yards were a career-high and four yards short of the 200-yard mark. (Note: the last Packer to hit the 200-yard mark receiving in a game was Jordy Nelson in early 2014.)
Adams was also particularly efficient, catching 13 of 16 targets and totaling 15.1 yards per reception. Perhaps most critically, he was responsible for every one of the Packers’ seven third-down conversions.
Meanwhile, the rest of the receiver group was notably quiet. MVS did not catch a single one of his four targets, while Shepherd failed to haul in his only one. Taylor did catch both of his, however, one for five yards and the other for a one-yard touchdown, his first in the NFL. St. Brown’s only notable play was on special teams, downing a punt on the two-yard line.
Robert Tonyan 31, Marcedes Lewis 31, Jace Sternberger 20, John Lovett 9
The Packers used a nice dose of 12 and 22 personnel on Sunday, even throwing some 13 looks as well, but there were only a handful of targets going to the position on the day. Tonyan had the biggest one, a 31-yard grab that could have been more if Rodgers had put the football in a better spot. He finished with two catches for 32 yards, while Lewis caught one of three targets for a nine-yard gain. Sternberger caught his second NFL touchdown (and his first in the regular season) on a nifty one-handed grab coming across the middle on play-action. Lovett, meanwhile, had a couple of nice blocks in the run game, including a big kick-out on the Packers’ longest run of the day.
Billy Turner 62, Corey Linsley 62, Lucas Patrick 62, Rick Wagner 62, Elgton Jenkins 60, Jon Runyan 2
With no David Bakhtiari, the Packers turned to Turner to fill in at left tackle. For the most part, he held up well, particularly with Rodgers seemingly looking to get the football out quickly and in rhythm. As mentioned earlier, Rodgers was not sacked once; in fact, he only took one official hit, per the box score.
Runyan came on for the final two snaps as Boyle kneeled out the clock.
DEFENSE (68 total)
Kenny Clark 43, Kingsley Keke 30, Dean Lowry 29, Montravius Adams 23, Billy Winn 6
It was a good day for the Packers’ defensive line, which kept David Johnson bottled up all game. He ran for just 42 yards on 14 carries, a three-yard average, with a long run of 13 yards. The group made some big stops in critical times, including down near the goal line and in short-yardage situations.
It won’t be a standout day in the box score for this group, but their play allowed the Packers’ edge rushers and linebackers to flow to the football.
Za’Darius Smith 50, Preston Smith 49, Rashan Gary 44, Jonathan Garvin 7
The Packers’ pass rush had a bounce-back game as well on Sunday. Preston Smith in particular looked rejuvenated after a very rough start to his season. He won’t jump off the stat sheet, but it was his pressure that led to the Packers’ first two sacks on the day, one that went to his partner in crime Za’Darius. Z had that sack, his sixth, and a second hit on quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Preston’s best play, however, came on a 4th-and-1 from around midfield. From the defense’s right side, he read an option play perfectly and brought Watson down in the backfield for a loss before he ever had a chance to react or pitch the football.
Kamal Martin 29, Krys Barnes 27, Ty Summers 18, Oren Burks 5
The Packers opened up with Barnes and Martin on the field together, but quickly shifted into their normal single linebacker look with a safety in the box. Who that player was changed frequently, however. Initially it was Barnes before he left the game with an injury, at which time Summers took over. But following Summers losing David Johnson on a touchdown pass in the end zone, Martin took the field.
The rookie had a mistake or two — he followed the wrong running back into the middle of the line on a big gain by Duke Johnson — but he had a few very impressive plays, particularly in run support. It was a solid debut for Martin, who had six solo tackles and looks like he will definitely be a regular contributor if not a starter moving forward.
Barnes had one of the Packers’ three sacks, cleaning up after Preston Smith’s pressure, and totaled eight tackles in his limited action.
Will Redmond 68, Adrian Amos 68, Raven Greene 34, Vernon Scott 13, Henry Black 6
With no Darnell Savage on Sunday, Redmond took over as the primary deep safety. Greene lined up all over the field, from in the box to the slot to deep on occasion. He did give up a couple of receptions to Will Fuller, who got his speed going against him, but all told Greene played a solid game, totaling seven tackles and a pair of pass breakups.
The rookies both deserve some callouts, however. Scott lined up in the slot as the dime back on occasion, but deserves credit for a tremendous open-field tackle for loss on third down inside the 10 to force a field goal attempt. Black, meanwhile, saw just six snaps but had two tackles and an absolute monster of a forced fumble on the last defensive play of the game, laying his helmet on the football and sending it flying ten feet in the air.
Jaire Alexander 68, Josh Jackson 68, Chandon Sullivan 63
It seemed that most of the Texans’ passing production came against the Packers’ safeties and linebackers; the cornerback trio barely had their names called at all throughout the game. Alexander pitched a shutout on Fuller, whose catches all came matched up against other players, while Jackson had four tackles including a TFL and rarely seemed to give up much in coverage.
Sullivan struggled blitzing — he bit on Watson pump-fakes a few times to give up some scramble yardage — but had a pass breakup and three tackles of his own.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Burks 25, Summers 24, Ka’Dar Hollman 18, Lovett 16, Dexter Williams 15, Taylor 12