Clay Matthews stands tall despite Packers' losing effort in Los Angeles

-- For all of the pandemonium surrounding the trade deadline rumors early Sunday morning, the Green Bay Packers got solid production out of their edge rushers against the Los Angeles Rams.

Most notably Clay Matthews, who finished with a sack for the second consecutive game after having just half of one through the first five games of the year.

Matthews also finished second on the team in tackles (7). It was just the third time he had seven-or-more tackles in a single game since the start of the 2015 season.

The Packers' defense as a whole stood tall against one of the top offenses in the league for a majority of Sunday afternoon. Shortened offensive possessions and a constant series of situations that required the defense -- an exhausted defense, to be specific -- to be out on the field more than they had to be led to their untimely demise.

"I felt like we just showed up," Matthews said after the 29-27 loss. "Obviously, they’ve had the success they’ve had with a lot of smoke and mirrors, good play calling, speed and misdirection."

Matthews' unit didn't do much to contribute to the losing effort but hold up their end of the bargain. They helped limit the Rams to 8-for-18 on third down and average just 5.5 yards per play.

The nail in the coffin was running back and fill-in return specialist Ty Montgomery fumbling a kick return with less than two minutes to go in the game, robbing the Packers' offense of a potentially game-clinching possession.

"It really is a shame, the way in which we dropped that game," Matthews said. "You’d like to think if we see these guys again, but at 3-3-1, we need to start winning these games. We can’t let them go.

"It also shows the type of team we have and what we can be. We just have to capitalize, it’s frustrating. I thought our defense played really well today, we obviously gave up some points but we competed all day long and I thought, for the most part, held them in check."

Outside of the numbers that helped define Matthews' efficiency against the Rams, he was disruptive in getting to Rams quarterback Jared Goff, accounting for two of the Packers' eight "hits" on Goff. He was beating blocks, racing to the sideline and demonstrating speed off the edge that has seemingly proven to be a lost art in Matthews' game in recent years.

In 2018, the Packers have been one of the most dynamic pressuring teams in the league under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. If the Packers do pursue a premium pass rusher to pair with Matthews before the Tuesday trade deadline, there's no reason to think those numbers would do anything but ascend.

For now, that premium pass rusher isn't en route to Green Bay prepared to ink a contract. It's Matthews, Nick Perry, Reggie Gilbert and Kyler Fackrell. The Packers have found success with this group, even against the Rams' veteran center John Sullivan and All-Pro left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

"That’s the best team in the NFL, and we hung toe-to-toe with them and had a chance at the end to win it. We gotta take that moving forward. I know we lost, but we gotta take that capability and move it forward."

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (31)

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Minniman's picture

October 29, 2018 at 05:07 am

Props to Perry too - he set the edge well all game.

Kyler Fackrell continues to serve crow up to me...... I'm developing a taste for it now.

JAIRE ALEXANDER - great game kid! you have sky-high potential.

In the opponents uniform, props to Sam Shields too, he did some good things (that I hated seeing :) )

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 29, 2018 at 06:14 am

Fackrell can feed me all the crow he wants. Tastes like chicken.

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Daren726's picture

October 29, 2018 at 05:32 am

Clay was awesome last night...but what happened the first five weeks? Was it scheme or age or desire? Lets hope he and the other edge rushers can keep performing at this level.

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

October 29, 2018 at 05:53 am

Refs happend.

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fthisJack's picture

October 29, 2018 at 09:35 am

good point. i noticed when he closelined Goff, he immediately looked around expecting a flag!

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Lphill's picture

October 29, 2018 at 05:32 am

Clay was a force out there , the defense overall played well , 2 players in the game that were a liability were Montgomery and Whitehead , even the new kid 95 held his own . Cut whitehead move Tramon to safety activate Kumerow .

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 29, 2018 at 06:15 am

If we consistently get this kind of preformance from Matthews the rest of the year I hope they resign him to a reasonable deal.

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Savage57's picture

October 29, 2018 at 07:01 am

The part about CMIII that makes even thinking about keeping him credible, is the timing of when he makes his plays.

He's not making them as often as he once did, but he sure makes them at important moments in a game.

If he doesn't get treated like a poster boy for the league the first few games, we're looking at him in an entirely different light.

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EddieLeeIvory's picture

October 29, 2018 at 06:22 am

Trade Haha & Montgomery to Oakland for safety Karl Joseph & edge Bruce Irvin.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 29, 2018 at 06:33 am

See if they'll throw in Reggie McKenzie too.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

October 29, 2018 at 06:41 am

Packers stand TALL? Really.

SECOND PLACE IS FOR LOSERS!!!

Give the Packers a participant award and put it next to the 4 Lombardi trophy case and see what fans say when they walk by the glass case.

THEY WILL LAUGH!! DISGRACEFUL.

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dobber's picture

October 29, 2018 at 07:14 am

"Packers stand TALL? "

Read the headline and story, Doug. The defense played well enough to win, yesterday. If, leading up to this game, anyone had told me they would keep the Rams in the 20s, I would've said they were crazy...and that the Packers would probably have won.

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HankScorpio's picture

October 29, 2018 at 07:27 am

JK Scott didn't do the defense any favors. Had the other phases of the ball been performing as well as the defense did, the Rams might not have even hit the 20s. Throw in the caliber of competition and it's a really encouraging game from the defense.

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dobber's picture

October 29, 2018 at 08:43 am

Just enough to get our hopes up that this team could still make some noise...

I think we all hoped this defense would (if it could stay healthy) improve as the season went by. It showed yesterday that it can hold up its end of the bargain (just enough) against high-end teams...and they did it on the road.

The margin for error on this season is pretty much gone. At 3-3-1, they can lose 2 games and still have a pretty good shot at the playoffs. I think they can lose 1 and still win the division. If the defense plays as well next week against a NE team that has shown it struggles on defense, they've got a shot.

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fthisJack's picture

October 29, 2018 at 09:42 am

this division is wide open yet. a 9-6-1 record may win it.

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dobber's picture

October 29, 2018 at 09:46 am

True. It all depends on who you beat. But all 3 of their losses are in conference, which is going to weigh them down.

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HankScorpio's picture

October 29, 2018 at 07:32 pm

With a tie on their record, the tiebreakers carry limited meaning. They only come into play vs Minny, unless their are more ties in the NFC.

If Rodgers can get his act together and the defense can play close to like they did yesterday consistently, I won't give a rip about seeding. Rodgers in a dome or warmer climate might be more dangerous than Rodgers on the Frozen Tundra.

Lotta ballgame(s) left. Sept/Oct football holds far less meaning than Dec/Jan football. But they need start putting it all together soon because they haven't been very good so far.

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Minniman's picture

October 29, 2018 at 01:24 pm

Technically it was on the road...... how was the number of Packers fans there. Amazing to see!

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 29, 2018 at 10:25 am

" The defense played well enough to win"...

Then why does the record show a loss?
Oh, I see, in the coulda, woulda, shoulda if...part of the NFL.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

October 29, 2018 at 06:42 am

ALL IN ALL.

A LOSS IS STILL A LOSS AND IT WILL STAND!

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Roadrunner23's picture

October 29, 2018 at 07:33 am

and he can take his highly overpaid AZZ out of Green Bay at seasons end, time to rebuild!

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Bearmeat's picture

October 29, 2018 at 08:51 am

The OLBs made me eat crow yesterday. They weren't great. But they weren't a hindrance - and that is an awesome OT combo they overall had a winning performance against.

You've got to hand it to Pettine. He's been everything we could have hoped for with sub-par talent at edge and safety.

That performance, although a miserable loss overall, showed me that MM's team is getting hot again late in the season. Maddening, frustrating... you name it.

But if we stay healthy, I do think we can win the next 4 now. Especially if the OLBs continue to play like that.

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dobber's picture

October 29, 2018 at 09:04 am

The Packers benefitted 100% from a healthy secondary. King, Alexander...both of them played well against a fast WR group (and Gurley). Pettine put it on them to hold the fort as he dialed up pressure on Goff, and many times Goff had no place to go with the ball facing 5 and 6 rushers.

I don't expect that we'll see this kind of play the rest of the season from the OLBs: their body of work thus far doesn't support it. But it had been so poor, that it had to get better, right?

I'll say this: Fackrell has gotten better week after week. He was mostly invisible over the first three games. On his sack yesterday, he beat one of those very good OTs on a speed rush. He's a one-trick pony, for the most part, and he made it work. Maybe the improved play of Fackrell (and his usage) might be more of a sign of Pettine's skill than anything else.

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Bearmeat's picture

October 29, 2018 at 09:31 pm

Agreed on all points.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 30, 2018 at 04:53 am

Those blitzes worked pretty well against Goff and McVay. Wonder if we'll try them against Brady and Belicheat, and if we do, if they work overall as well?

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 29, 2018 at 10:31 am

Ok, so many now want to resign Matthews and the Packers defense played good enough. Did you forget it took 2 weeks of planning for that loss to still occur. What happens when MM is back on the regular schedule to game plan.
I said earlier in another article that Matthews needs to fail in this game to erase any chance of convincing anyone of resigning him will be a good idea.
Here we are, a good game once in ,who can remember, and Matthews is standing tall and many want to resign him...sheesh.

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SpudRapids's picture

October 29, 2018 at 10:41 am

you sound like Trump... "many people are saying"

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 29, 2018 at 10:55 am

I have no problem with being compared to Trump. : )

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Bearmeat's picture

October 29, 2018 at 09:29 pm

...why doesn't that surprise me one little bit?

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TheBigCheeze's picture

October 29, 2018 at 09:03 pm

spud.....keep politics out of it....moron

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 30, 2018 at 04:55 am

Sounds like many newspapers as well. That way the newspaper can omit the word "anonymous" while still preserving anonymity.

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