For 12 years, Matthew Stafford had to suffer in the football purgatory that is Detroit. Green Bay Packer fans had to see Stafford twice a year, where he wasn’t horrible. He went 8-16 against the Pack, and considering Detroit never had an elite team is impressive. Now he has a new home in Los Angeles, where the Rams are competing for a title. But once again, the Green and Gold are in his way.
This game has massive playoff implications, with both teams having three losses on the year. Whoever wins this game has the tiebreaker, where both the Rams and Packers are looking for home-field advantage in the playoffs.
If the Packers win this, there’s a good chance they will only have to fly to Baltimore and Detroit until the Super Bowl. That would be massive.
The Packers defer the coin toss to give Stafford the first drive of the game where he looked rusty. Preston Smith played like a man on a mission, putting pressure on Stafford every play. A nice punt by Hecker puts the Pack at their own 6-yard line.
Aaron Jones sprained his MCL against Seattle and was feared to miss at least three weeks. But after missing only one week, Jones gets on the field for the Packers’ first drive. They give him three quick touches to get their backs out of the endzone. The drive gets to a fourth and one at midfield, but LaFleur goes for it with a handoff to AJ “Quadzilla” Dillon.
The next fourth down was a different type of decision. At the 39 yard line, LeFleur had a decision to kick a 56 yarder or punt. They elect to punt, which speaks volumes about Crosby’s struggles. There is no trust in Mason, which may come to hurt the Packers in January.
However, the story of the season has been this: when the offense struggles, the defense shines. On the second play of the Rams drive, Rashan Gary strip-sacks Stafford and gets the Packers into the red zone. For a man playing through injury, what a play from Gary who has had a breakout season.
On a third down at the one, Rodgers runs a “read-option” on a fractured freaking fracking toe?! He jukes out All-Pro Jalen Ramsey and scores for his third rushing touchdown of the season. For a now 38-year-old quarterback to lead the team in rushing touchdowns is hard to believe.
Los Angeles seems to have a routine three and out the next drive, but they decided to go for it on fourth and one at their own 29 (which is an odd decision). Adrian Amos comes out of nowhere to blow the fourth-down run-up, and the Packers get the ball deep in Ram territory to start the second quarter.
An almost perfect start for the Green and Gold. This defense under Joe Barry has been unbelievable.
Packers 7 – Rams 0
Green Bay is unable to capitalize, only gaining a yard. So LaFleur sends Crosby out for a 45 yarder with all of Packer nation holding their breath. After Lambeau uses their breath to push the ball back towards the uprights, Crosby just makes it to give the Packers a 10-0 lead.
If you have been reading the recaps for the last few weeks, you’ve noticed my hatred for the Packers defense giving up the deep ball. They’ve been an elite rush defense. But every single game they allow a brian fart 50-yard bomb. In this game, it’s Van Jefferson for 79 yards. Savage doubles Kupp which leaves Chandon Sullivan all alone with Jefferson. The Rams offense has done nothing all game. To give up that is disastrous.
So how do you respond to giving up a deep pass? Get one of your own! Rodgers finds Cobb in the middle of the field and gets a 54 yarder to get in the red zone. But the offense is unable to get into the endzone, so Money Crosby makes another field goal to make it 13-7.
The Packers’ defense forced a three and out. After 12 weeks, the Packers finally make the change and take Amari Rodgers off punt return duties. They put in the old reliable Randell Cobb to return this punt. However, in classic 2021 Packers fashion, he muffs it.
Of course, he does. How long will special teams hurt me?
This sets up the Rams with a chance to take the lead near the red zone, but they are unable to gain even a first down. So they’re forced to kick a short field goal. Both offenses now have struggled once near the red zone.
After a block in the back on the kickoff return, the Packers start at their own 10. Cobbs starts the drive making up for his muffed punt, catching a screen for 29 yards. He looks likes he’s in his prime late into the season. But you know who is in his prime? Davante Adams, who gets open on a third down for 43 yards. While the Packers have struggled this game in the red zone, they don’t here. Rodgers throws a bullet to Cobb, who is having a day.
The Rams put together their first long drive of the day running their two-minute offense. The Packers’ defense looks a little gassed, trying to get to halftime. Stafford throws to Henderson on a Texas route and finishes a great drive to make it a three-point game before the half. Whew… what a quarter
Packers 20 – Rams 17
Rough news to start the third quarter, as Randell Cobb is declared out for the rest of the game. That is tough news for someone who had played great in the first half. But this gives other receivers a chance to shine, mainly MVS. He immediately gets a 30 yarder to midfield. This Rodgers-MVS connection has been getting better and better as the year goes on.
Then this young offensive line puts up a clinic. With Myers, Jenkins, and Bak out, they were down to their third stringers. But they don’t look that way. Instead, AJ Dillon gets fed with open holes, and Rodgers has open pockets to make great throws. After an eight-minute drive, Rodgers throws to Dillon on the unstoppable Texas route for a touchdown. That’s the best drive they have put together today.
This Packers defense has been near perfect. Besides a 79 yard catch, they have only given up 101 yards on eight drives. Against the 6th best offense in the Rams, that is outstanding. As a result, they force another three and out.
But the Rams’ defense then forces a three and out of their own. After 12 weeks, the Rams make a change and take Cooper Kupp off punt return duties. They put in JJ Koski to return this punt. However, in classic 2021 Rams fashion, he fumbles it.
Wait, am I getting Deja Vu? Because the exact same thing that happened to the Packers in the second quarter happens to the Rams in the third quarter. Krys Barnes recovers the fumble and Green Bay has a chance to seal this game in the third. But the Packers offense stalls in the red zone and Crosby makes yet another field goal
Stafford now has to play aggressive down 13. On a third down, he tries to squeeze one to Cooper Kupp, but Rasul Douglas picks it off and takes it home for the Pick-6. An out-of-this-world performance by this defense. Douglas has been a steal pick-up this season, and the Packers look to have control over this game.
Packers 36 – Rams 17
Oops, never mind. I forgot the Packers’ Defense one weakness: Deep Balls.
Odell Beckham makes his first play of the game, catching a 54-yard touchdown to make this a ball game. He beat Rasul Douglas on a nice streak route. Time to settle down, and put together a long drive on offense. Please?
Nah, because the offense does nothing. But, Bojorquez kicks a 61-yard beauty of a punt all the way to the one-yard line. There is a legitimate chance he is a pro bowler this season. What a move by Brian Gutenkust to get him this offseason.
Both teams traded punts and the Rams got the ball down 11 with six minutes left. With a third down, Kenny Clark goes around a lineman and takes down Stafford in what seems like a dagger sack. How amazing has he been this year!
For the final drive for the Packers offense, they run out the clock with AJ Dillon taking the souls of his victims. They must save him for the fourth quarter so he can roll over defenders. He doesn’t get an incredibly YPC, but he gets at least 3 yards after contact per play. But the Packers settled for a field goal attempt that Crosby hits off the left upright. He had been flirting with it all game, and the wind finally took it. Still, a good day for Crosby relatively speaking.
Lastly, the Rams try to get a touchdown quickly but have to settle for a field goal. So that forces an onside kick with 20 seconds left that the Packers thankfully recovered. The Packers go to 9-3 and gain a much-needed tiebreaker over the Rams. W
What. A. Win.
Packers 36 – Rams 28
Packers Offensive MVP: Young Offensive Line
For this game, the Packers knew they would be without Josh Myers, David Bakhtiari, and Elgton Jenkins. This would have the 8-3 Packers starting an offensive line of Nijman-Runyan-Patrick-Newman-Turner. So this inexperienced line would face Aaron Donald and Von Miller, supposedly the scariest front 7 in the NFL.
However, Rodgers was only sacked once.
They got running lanes open for AJ Dillon and kept a mostly clean pocket for #12. Nijman even saved a turnover falling on a Mercedes Lewis fumble. They were the main reason the Packers were able to score 36 points.
They even got Aaron Donald frustrated the whole game, constantly picking fights with the interior lineman. We won’t see a fully healthy line in 2021, but the future looks bright for this group.
Packers Defensive MVP: Kenny Clark
Being a defensive tackle is a thankless job. They don’t usually pass rushers, they are gap stoppers. Their goal is to prevent the run game from performing and to put pressure on the quarterback. Kenny Clark is the best at that in football.
The Rams had a goal to establish the run this game. And it never happened. They only got 68 yards on the day, and Stafford was pressured all day. Clark not only got a sack, but he collapsed the pocket nearly every play. So next time you watch a Packer game, just watch #97 and the work he does. It’s simply a symphony of interior excellence.
Packers’ Bonus MVP: Corey Bojorquez
So I normally only have two MVPs after a game, but I just had to acknowledge how great Bojo was this game. He had five punts for 212 yards, four inside the 20, and one at the 1-yard line. He even got a few off with pressure on all sides.
But you also have to point out the job he did as the holder on the field goal unit. That has been a struggle for the Packers the last few weeks. He got every snap-down perfect for Crosby.
The Rams traded him during the offseason to the Packers, and we should be thanking him every day. Because he is a legit Pro Bowler.