2020 Week 15 - That’s What Cheese Said

"At the end of the day we found a way to win the game. I’m definitely happy about that, sitting 11-3."

Even with a hot and cold performance at Lambeau Field the day before, just about everything on Sunday fell Green Bay’s way. After beating the Panthers on Saturday night to improve to 11-3 on the season, the Rams and Saints both lost on Sunday, giving the Packers a little breathing room atop the NFC. 

It was a tale of two halves for Green Bay, much like the Week 11 game versus the Indianapolis Colts, but at least this time the Packers hung on for a victory. 

After climbing to a 21-3 lead before halftime, the Packers had trouble building any type of momentum on offense in the second half, allowing the Panthers to get back into the game. After halftime, Green Bay went 1-of-8 on third down, and Rodgers was consistently under pressure.

“There was more pressure on our quarterback tonight than we’ve seen probably since the Tampa Bay game. It seemed like once it started to snowball we could just never get out of the rut,” said Head Coach Matt LaFleur. 

The quarterback took five sacks on the night after being sacked only 13 times through just as many games to start the season. 

“We had a couple of good quarters and a couple stinkers. That’s just not consistent, winning football,” said Rodgers after the game. ““It just comes down to execution and we didn’t execute the second half.”

Rodgers had a modest (by MVP standards) showing on Saturday night, throwing for 143 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for another score and had 26 total yards on the ground. Running back Aaron Jones was the star of the game for the Packers, rushing for 145 yards on 20 attempts and one touchdown, giving him an average of 7.3 yards per attempt. 

114 of those yards from Jones came in the first half, and the Panthers defense made the necessary adjustments to keep him contained for much of the final two quarters. 

“If teams are going to zero in on him, we’ve gotta find ways to consistently move the ball, and that obviously didn’t happen in the second half,” said LaFleur of Jones. 

For Rodgers, he didn’t feel that explosive receiver Davante Adams got enough attention on offense, either, as Adams finished the night with only 42 yards on seven receptions. 

“Even though we were obviously very efficient running the football, we need to keep finding ways to get Davante involved because he’s such a difference-maker,” Rodgers said. 

Adams’ streak of eight consecutive games with a touchdown came to an end, but tight end Robert Tonyan is in the midst of a streak of his own, hauling in a touchdown on Saturday night to bring his current touchdown streak to five games. 

The Packers ended the night 5-of-12 on third downs, doing just enough in the second half to get kicker Mason Crosby into field goal range to regain a two-score lead the Panthers would eventually cut back into. 

“We’ve gotta come out ready to play,” said Jones on the team’s second half performance. “We’ve gotta start the second half the same way we started the first half, just put a complete game together.”

While the offense fell flat, the defense stayed hot and put together perhaps its most complete performance of the season. Despite the Panthers making five trips to the red zone, the Packers defense only allowed one touchdown on the night. 

“I think we’re getting closer and closer to playing our best ball, and this is the time in the season where you want to start playing your best ball, leading into the playoffs, getting that momentum,” said safety Adrian Amos on the defense’s performance. 

Rookie inside linebacker Krys Barnes made what LaFleur called “the play of the game” when he punched the ball out of Teddy Bridgewater’s hands on an attempted quarterback sneak at the goal line, which Kevin King returned up to midfield. Jones scored on that drive, resulting in a 14-point swing for the Packers. 

As a whole, the Packers defense got three sacks on the night. Amos had seven total tackles behind only Christian Kirksey (nine), and tallied three pass breakups in the game. 

“I just think we’re improving each and every week,” he said. “Everybody’s looking at themselves, seeing where they can be better. Me personally, I'm just trying to be faster to the ball. Just find more ways to be effective and help the defense be great.”

Despite the 4-10 record, the Panthers are a tough football team, with nine games prior to Saturday being one-score games for Carolina. That wasn’t lost on LaFleur, who mentioned that the Panthers almost took down the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, losing 33-31. 

“I’m always going to be hard on myself and our coaches, and our players. We’ve gotta make sure that we learn from it and get better and better,” said LaFleur, adding that you’d rather be on the winning side with stuff to clean up than on the flip side with a loss. “At the end of the day we found a way to win the game. I’m definitely happy about that, sitting 11-3. Never gonna apologize for winning in this league.”

Green Bay knows what’s at stake next on Sunday Night Football, with the new number one offense in points for, the Tennessee Titans, coming to Lambeau Field. And stalling on offense in the second half likely won’t get the job done against an AFC contender led by the league’s best running back. 

“It is frustrating, but we’re 11-3, we won the game, that’s a good problem to have. We just know that type of football in the second half, not gonna get it done in the playoffs,” said Rodgers. 

“That’s where we’re going, that’s the trajectory that we’re on. We at least host a home playoff game. We win these next two, we’re gonna be the 1 seed. We need to play better these next two weeks.”

While it wasn’t the offensive performance the team wanted, the Packers did enough to maintain sole possession of the NFC. Right now, the path to the Super Bowl still funnels through 1265 Lombardi Ave. 

“We want everything to run through Lambeau,” said Jones. “We know we control what happens and so we’ve just gotta continue to play at a high level and put four complete quarters together, come out and play physical football.”

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

10 points

Comments (19)

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Hematite's picture

December 22, 2020 at 01:44 pm

The Green Bay Packers are11-3 with one of the best offenses in the league, led by one of the best quarterbacks of all-time yet I couldn't shake the feeling that I had time traveled back to the70's in the second half.
LeFleur must give some pretty depressing halftime pep talks to have his team to come out in the second half and lay an egg like they did on Sunday night.

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fastmoving's picture

December 22, 2020 at 02:42 pm

They did not lay an egg.....they won.

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Archie's picture

December 22, 2020 at 02:47 pm

OK, they laid a half an egg.

TEN game will be telling. If they can't win that game, tough to see them beating KC or BUF.

OTOH, defense continues to improve and when offense and defense are both clicking, they can beat anybody.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 22, 2020 at 04:59 pm

Half an egg? Is this some kind of a yolk?

The only AFC team that concerns me is the one we meet in the Super Bowl.

Tennessee is probably the best team we’ve played at Lambeau. This should be a good test. Tannenhill/Henry is a real good backfield. The defense is weak, and our offense, at home, needs to protect the ball and score 30. If we do that, we’ll win.

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PeteK's picture

December 22, 2020 at 06:31 pm

All you guys have egg on your faces!

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

December 23, 2020 at 10:55 am

WOW! I cannot believe some people!

Almost every game some *pundits* say "<substitute opponent team name> game will be telling". After said game is over, and the Packers have won 11 games to 3, the *pundits* seem to be missing, until the next game, when different pundits raise their addled heads.

Archie, go back over the commentary/comments in the last 14 games... since October you will notice pundits similar to you with the "telling" comment.

Just enjoy the game. The better team on the day will win the game. There is no "telling".

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Hematite's picture

December 23, 2020 at 05:27 am

They scored 3 points in the second half and barely hung on for the win.
They absolutely laid an egg.

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Lphill's picture

December 22, 2020 at 04:35 pm

I'm still trying to get past Kevin Greene , I didn't know he came to green Bay on a free agent visit with Fritz Schumer in 93 but he was looking to play in a 3-4 not a 4-3 so he signed with the Steelers with Capers as DC.

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PeteK's picture

December 22, 2020 at 04:59 pm

Interesting never heard that. I wonder if we would signed White if Greene had chosen to stay?

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stockholder's picture

December 22, 2020 at 05:36 pm

One more win and we will have the Top seed

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Bure9620's picture

December 23, 2020 at 03:19 am

Not if Seattle wins, then it rides on beating the Bears...unless the niners beat Seattle week 17. There are scenarios where the Titans game is actually inconsequential as far as earning a 1 seed....

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canadapacker's picture

December 22, 2020 at 07:50 pm

Killer instinct is not one of the attributes of this team and this game was a great example. At the end of the first half we had 2 possessions that we flopped on - instead of 21-3 it could have been 28-3. We got the ball with 3.28 left and did little and once again got the ball back with 55 seconds left and did nothing. Then since we deferred we came out - and this has happened too many times and we did nothing. Maybe we shouldnt defer if we cannot do any type of half time adjustments.

I have always been a win is a win type of guy - but I am concerned - not quite as concerned if I was a Steelers fan - but I am concerned that we dont seem to have the killer type of instinct that you need in the playoffs. Too much taking the foot off the gas all season long. And I dont buy the people who say that we cant put too much on tape. I think that this game against the Titans is a big one for the team. I am not optimistic going into Chicago - the Bears are playing well right now and are not the pushovers that we saw earlier in the season.

We need to really show what we are made of against the Titans - Chicago held Henry to under 100 yards. We need to do the same and we need to get sacks on Tannehill . Weather looks chilly and windy - hope not too windy.

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Bure9620's picture

December 23, 2020 at 03:17 am

You really cannot completely ignore the film from a few weeks ago, the Packers schooled and out-classed the Bears in a beat down. Not saying week 17 will be a blowout but the Packers have zero reason to be concerned against the Bears.....

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Leatherhead's picture

December 22, 2020 at 08:59 pm

I have a question:

Signing bonuses are usually spread out during the years of the contract, right? So if a guy signed a 3 year deal with a $9 million signing bonus, and you cut him after two years, the remaining $3 million is immediately applied against the cap, right? So if he was due to make $6 million, you’d really only create $3 million in cap space by releasing him, right?

If dobber or somebody could explain this, I’d appreciate it.

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Bure9620's picture

December 23, 2020 at 03:04 am

That is correct, the pro-rated $3 million dollar portion of signing bonus becomes dead money against the cap that year he is released ( depending on if it is pre or post June 1st cut).

Preston Smith for example had a $16 mil signing bonus spread out over 4 years, $4 mill per year. (2 years, $8 million remaining)
His cap hit balloons to $16 million in '21, so releasing him would amount to $8 million in cap savings with the $8 million in dead money.

I do not see ANY scenario where Ricky Wagner, Preston Smith or Kirksey are on the team in '21 as the Packers need to unload contracts for a decreased cap next year and those 3 players are collectively over $18 million in cap savings and a bit over $11 mil in dead money and none are worth a restructure.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 23, 2020 at 05:22 am

Correct. And since Preston is under contract for 2021 and 2022, in March of 2021 they can designate him as a June 1 release, meaning $4M of the signing bonus counts against the 2021 cap (leaving $12M in cap savings) and $4M would be dead money in 2022.

GB probably extends Adams to save $7M, converts Bakh's roster bonus to save $8.3M more, cuts Kirksey for $6M and Lowry for $3.3 for $24.3M in savings. They are over the limit by $21M per and will have 10 more players at $660K each so need to get at least $27.6M ($3.3M more in savings). I think GB needs at least $10M more to tender Tonyan ($5M), Sullivan ($3.5M) and probably Greene plus sign Lancaster, Redmond and Boyle to cheaper deals. That could be gotten by releasing Wagner (Nooooo), and/or restructuring AR and/or Zadarius. Or perhaps sign the RFAs long-term.

Ken Ingalls has made a plausible case for a likely cap limit of $185M. That would be very useful.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 23, 2020 at 05:25 am

“Even though we were obviously very efficient running the football, we need to keep finding ways to get Davante involved because he’s such a difference-maker,” Rodgers said.

I hate this quote. Adams was doubled much of the day. MVS got a lot of attention. Need to spread the ball around more and not fail to see Lazard open on crossers and needed to send Tonyan down the seam a few more times.

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canadapacker's picture

December 23, 2020 at 11:13 am

Totally agree and maybe get MVS Taylor or Austin into the motion game. But stop on the screen passes - they seem to be smelling them up and even if Tonyan makes that block it is probably not a real big play. The Oline needed to play much better - AR did not have much time in the pocket and when he did he looked for Adams first and he wasnt open - maybe needs to look at Tonyon or Lazard first. Now not hearing much about Adams drops at least not as much as we heard about MVS;s drops - but both Adams and Lazard had drops last game and that kind of slows things down. I still would like to see Dillon get more snaps and earlier in the games - and see if he can hurt somebody with his bruising style - nothing like making some of those Dbacks shy like getting run over by a back like Dillon - I am sure that they get some of that from Henry

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Tundraboy's picture

December 24, 2020 at 12:40 pm

A gem of a comment TGR. I just don't get this,. It's so obvious when it works or doesn't. Taking shots at wrong time, forcing the issue with repeatedly throwing to one guy. it's not smart.

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