Welcome to a new column called ‘Packers by the Numbers.’ At least once a week, I’ll be highlighting statistical trends by the Packers to recap a game or to preview an upcoming opponent. Today, I’ll be discussing numbers from the Packers’ Week 15 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
Second Half Struggles: A Look at the Offense’s Numbers
- The Packers’ second half offensive struggles was one of the biggest stories of the game. In their first three drives of the third quarter, the Packers ran a total of 10 plays for 21 yards, punting at the end of each possession. They finally found some rhythm with a 10-play, 42-yard drive in the fourth quarter, ending in a field goal by Mason Crosby. The Packers were held without a second half touchdown for the third time this season. This follows similar games earlier in the season against the Colts and Buccaneers. The Packers were fortunately able to come away with a win this time, unlike the two aforementioned occasions.
- Aaron Rodgers finished the game 20/29 for a mere 143 yards and one touchdown. He ends an eight-game streak of finishing with at least 200 yards and two touchdowns. For only the second time in 2020, he recorded a sub-100 passer rating (96.1). His 143 passing yards was his fourth fewest in 207 career starts, excluding four games in which he left early due to injury. Davante Adams was held to 7 catches for 42 yards, his lowest output since Week Two against the Lions. His 6.0 yards per reception was his lowest game average since the 2019 Packers’ Week Nine loss to the Chargers.
- The Packers offense struggled in large part due to a rare, poor performance by the offensive line. Rodgers was sacked a season-high five times on Saturday night. He had only been sacked 14 times in the previous 13 games. Additionally, he lost 47 yards from sacks, which ranks third most in a game in his career.
Tonyan Continues Stellar 2020 Season: Eye-Popping Numbers
- Robert Tonyan caught a touchdown for a fifth straight game, giving him 10 total on the season. He is now tied with Travis Kelce for the league lead for most touchdowns by a tight end this season. Additionally, Tonyan becomes the first Packers tight end to score double-digit touchdowns in a season since Keith Jackson in 1996.
Strong Defensive Performance
- The Packers’ strong defensive performance was arguably the deciding factor in their victory. Adrian Amos was a key player for the pass defense by recording three pass deflections. This was his most breakups in a game since Week Nine of the 2018 season while still playing for Chicago. The Packers defense held Panthers’ quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to only 249 passing yards after sacks. This continues a strong season in which they have yet to allow more than 300 passing yards in a game. The Packers join the Steelers, Rams, and Saints as the only teams with this accomplishment in 2020.
- Za’Darius Smith recorded another sack to give him 11.5 total this season. Combined with his 13.5 sacks in the 2019 season, Smith becomes the first Packer with 25 or more sacks across two consecutive seasons since Aaron Kampman recored 27.5 between the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
- The defense caused a turnover in a game for the tenth time this season with a fumble forced by Krys Barnes. With the Panthers a yard away from scoring a touchdown in the second quarter, Barnes was able to knock the ball out of Bridgewater’s hand at the goal line. Kevin King returned the fumble for 48 yards, giving the offense great field position for the ensuing drive. King’s 48-yard return was the longest turnover returned by the Packers defense so far this season. It was also the longest fumble returned by a Packer since Clay Matthews returned a fumble for 63 yards in Week Six of the 2017 season against the Vikings.
- Saturday’s game showed that the special teams unit continues to be a cause for concern in the final stretch of the regular season. JK Scott punted six times on Saturday night, his most in a game since seven punts in Week 6. Scott’s 38.1 net average per punt for the season currently ranks 30th in the league to continue a decade-long trend of poor punting units by the Packers.
- The Packers’ field goal unit remains the only bright spot for the special teams. Mason Crosby finished 3/3 on extra points and kicked a 51-yard field goal, his 16th of the season. Crosby is on pace to have his first career season with a perfect field goal percentage. Should he finish with a perfect season, he will join a small list of only seven other NFL kickers who have accomplished such a feat before.
Where the Packers Stand after Week 15
The Packers now hold a one game lead for the NFC #1 seed following a Saints loss. This ensures the upcoming Sunday night against the Titans is not a ‘must win.’ However, the Packers can clinch a coveted playoff bye week and home field advantage should they win and the Seahawks lose to the Rams.