At the end of the weekend, the reason for the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants being in London was to play a football game. It almost feels like that got forgotten amid all the pageantry and excitement around the Packers’ first visit to the UK, but the game itself still needs to come first and foremost.
Seemingly, the Packers themselves forgot that American football games are 60 minutes long.
Like every other game so far in the 2022 season, the Packers failed to put up a consistent, four-quarter performance. Green Bay jumped out to a 20-10 lead by halftime, but they gave up 17 straight points in the second half to fall behind by a touchdown in the fourth quarter. At the same time, the offense had only three substantive drives after halftime, one of which was a three-and-out in a tie game.
That led to a gassed defense giving up chunks of yardage both on the ground and through the air. Saquon Barkley accounted for a couple of big plays, but the Giants got a big game from fourth-string receiver Darius Slayton and found some big conversions from relatively unknown names in their skill position group. Ultimately, New York tied the game on a 91-yard drive with Barkley off the field, as he was getting examined for a shoulder injury. He returned following the Packers’ failed drive, delivering an explosive play as a receiver and scoring the go-ahead touchdown from a run out of the Wildcat formation.
Any goodwill generated by a good Aaron Rodgers performance in the first half evaporated after the break, while the Packers also failed to get their running backs involved in the game plan. The Packers’ offense finally moved the ball consistently late in the fourth after the Giants took the lead, but a potential game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter fell apart inside the ten-yard line as Rodgers saw back-to-back passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage on third and fourth downs. With just over a minute left on the game clock, the Giants were able to salt away the clock, taking a late safety to bring the final score to 27-22.
The Giants won the coin toss and deferred, kicking off to Christian Watson, who was back deep instead of Amari Rodgers. On an early third and long, Rodgers avoided pressure and threaded the needle to Randall Cobb, picking up a big 35-yard gain. A few AJ Dillon runs moved the Packers well into field goal range, but the Giants’ excellent third-down defense brought pressure and forced a stop. Mason Crosby appropriately started the scoring with his leg, hitting from 46 yards for an early 3-0 Green Bay lead.
Green Bay’s defense would get a stop on their opening drive for the first time this season, doing one better and forcing a three-and-out. Saquon Barkley ran for five and one yards on the first two plays, then pressure forced Daniel Jones to try a check-down to Barkley that went incomplete to bring on Scotland’s own Jamie Gillan to punt.
On the second series for the Packers’ offense, the team went back to alternating left tackles, as Yosh Nijman came on for David Bakhtiari. That series was short-lived, however, as the Packers returned the favor with a quick three-and-out of their own, but another defensive stop led to the first touchdown drive of the game.
Rodgers hit Romeo Doubs over the middle for a 22-yard gain to get things started, then lofted a deep ball to Robert Tonyan near the goal line. Tonyan drew a pass interference penalty on Giants safety Xavier McKinney, setting Green Bay up at the 4-yard line. After an incomplete pass to Cobb, Rodgers hit Allen Lazard on a quick RPO throw and he scampered to the pylon behind Doubs’ block for the first touchdown of the game.
The first-ever #Packers TD in LONDON! @AllenLazard #NYGvsGB | #GoPackGo— Green Bay Packers (@packers) October 9, 2022
The Giants finally got a first down on their next drive, as Daniel Jones found Darius Slayton on a mid-level crossing route off play-action. That play went for 26 yards and set up New York across midfield, but the defense again held, this time forcing a Graham Gano field goal to cut the Packers’ lead down to seven points.
Rodgers and the offense would get the lead back to two possessions once again on the next drive, a long, sustained series. The Packers had the ball for more than seven minutes, mixing in some creative pass calls with the run game to reach the goal line. Rodgers hit Marcedes Lewis for a touchdown, his first catch of the season. The play was a tremendous design, a play-action fake followed by a fake end-around, and Lewis released to get wide open for the score.
Rodgers with the double play action fake for SIX!@NFLUK @AaronRodgers12— NFL (back in London) (@NFL) October 9, 2022
: #NYGvsGB on @NFLNetwork
: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/miBTGIf2La pic.twitter.com/g6Aw75PI5M
The next drive saw the Giants finally get a big play from Barkley. Taking a direct snap out of the Wildcat, Barkley ran off the left side, cutting upfield and picking up 41 yards. Adrian Amos finally helped track him down, making a great play to slow down the back and allow help to come in the form of Eric Stokes to make the tackle. Preston Smith sacked Jones a few plays later, however, setting up the Giants behind the sticks. The Packers gave up their first conversion on a third-and-long two plays later, however, as Richie James hauled in a 15-yard gain over the middle on 3rd-and-12. The Giants would score a few plays later, running a reverse to tight end Daniel Bellinger for a two-yard touchdown with a little over a minute left in the first half.
With their lead cut down to seven points, the Packers offense took the field with all three of their timeouts. Aaron Jones ran for 11 yards and the Packers picked up another first down with passes of 9 yards to Cobb and 6 yards to Tonyan. Cobb hauled in another 20-yarder to put the Packers squarely into field goal range, but he used the team’s final timeout. After a short completion, the Packers had to run in the in a field goal team and Crosby hit from 48 yards as the clock expired to send the game to 20-10 at the half.
Coming out of the half, the defense had a big play wiped out by a questionable penalty. Rashan Gary sacked Jones, but a holding call on Darnell Savage gave the Giants five yards and a first down. Jones hit Darius Slayton on a few nice passes on the drive, once again getting into Packers territory. Rashan Gary stopped Jones on a quarterback draw on 3rd-and-8, however, bringing on Gano to close the game to within a touchdown once again.
Starting deep after a holding penalty on the ensuing kickoff, Rodgers found Lazard for a beautiful catch on a play-action slant on the first play of the drive. An illegal contact penalty followed, with a big run by AJ Dillon after that. Rodgers then hit Cobb for a solid gain that was initially ruled out of bounds, but Matt LaFleur challenged and it was reversed to a 14-yard gain. But after reaching just the outer edge of field goal range, Rodgers was sacked by Dexter Lawrence on third down, forcing the Packers to punt instead. Thankfully, Pat O’Donnell dropped another great kick inside the ten-yard line to give the Giants difficult field position.
Starting at their own 9-yard line, Barkley was knocked out of the game temporarily with a shoulder injury when De’Vondre Campbell tackled him for a loss on a swing pass. The Giants managed to drive down the field steadily without him, however, with Jones running for 25 yards and completing 7 of 8 passes for 55 yards. Gary Brightwell punctuated the drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown and a successful PAT tied the game at 20 with ten minutes left on the clock.
With the defense gassed, the Packers’ offense needed a lengthy scoring drive. Instead, they served up a three-and-out with three straight incompletions from Rodgers. The most exciting moment of the series was on the punt, which hit a Giants player in the back, but while trying to fall on the football, Keisean Nixon knocked it out of bounds and possession stayed with New York.
Barkley returned to the game on the next series and immediately made his presence felt. On second down, he lined up in the slot and ran a drag route, getting wide open and picking up 40 yards on a catch-and-run. Barkley took a Wildcat snap around the right end for an easy touchdown a few plays later to give the Giants their first lead of the game.
Trailing for the first time, the Packers finally got their quick passing game moving once again. On the first set of downs, Rodgers missed deep to Cobb then checked into a run on second down, which Jones took for six yards. On third down, Rodgers hit Tonyan on a delayed route to pick up 14 yards and move the chains. Cobb then picked up a nice gain of ten to pick up another first down before Lazard converted another third down a few plays later. Another catch for Tonyan gave Green Bay a first down inside the red zone at the two-minute warning. A pair of Aaron Jones runs set the Packers up with a 3rd-and-2 from the six, but Rodgers’ passes on third and fourth down were both tipped and knocked down at the line of scrimmage to turn the ball back over to the Giants.
The Packers’ two timeouts were just enough to keep a few seconds left on the clock for the Packers’ punt team as the Giants took three kneel-downs. Punter Jamie Gillan ran around in the end zone to run down a few more seconds before he stepped out of bounds for a safety, allowing the Giants to kick it deep to Green Bay with just 11 seconds left. Amari Rodgers returned the free kick to the 41 to try to get up a Hail Mary, but David Bakhtiari false started, pushing the Packers back to the 36. A mad scramble by Rodgers ended with him being sacked and stripped of the football from behind, and the Giants completed their upset.
In the first half, Rodgers had a very solid performance, going 18-of-24 passing for 147 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers’ running backs had just 11 carries before the break, however, totaling 56 yards between the tandem of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Meanwhile, Randall Cobb led the way with five catches on eight targets for 76 yards.
The final stats show a much different picture, however. Rodgers completed just half of his pass attempts after the break, going 7-for-14 for 75 yards, with most of the production coming on the final, would-be game-tying drive. That resulted in a final stat line of 25-for-39 for 222 yards. Jones finished the day with 63 yards on 13 carries while picking up just 17 yards on two receptions as the team never managed to work him into the game plan consistently. Likewise, Dillon saw a season-low six touches, with just 34 yards on those six carries.
Now 3-2 on the season, the Packers will return to Green Bay after this disappointing collapse to play the New York Jets in week six, while the 4-1 Giants will host the Baltimore Ravens.