The Green Bay Packers escaped with a 33-30 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football to improve their record to 3-2-1. Mason Crosby’s field goal as time expired capped a 90-yard drive that took the final 1:07 off the clock and gave the Packers a come from behind victory.
The division race is now extremely tight. Chicago is 3-2 and in first place, the Packers and Vikings are 3-2-1 and tied for second place while Detroit is not far behind at 2-3-0.
Green Bay heads into the bye week with some optimism as they enter the toughest stretch of their schedule.
Here are six key takeaways from the Packers Week 6 victory at Lambeau Field:
1. Mason Crosby Rebounded Well After Last Week’s Poor Showing
Veteran kicker Mason Crosby did not show any ill effects from his poor performance against Detroit a week ago. Crosby kicked three extra points and four field goals including a 51-yard boot in the third quarter and the game-winner as time expired.
A lesser kicker would have let last week’s four field goal misses and a blown extra point to get inside his head. The fans also showed support for Crosby, cheering extra loudly after every kick he made.
The Packers have their kicker back and hopefully this should not be an issue for the rest of the season.
2. The Run Defense Was Terrible
The Packers run defense made a very poor showing on Monday night. Yes, Mike Pettine’s defense aims to stop the pass first, but the defense couldn’t slow down any of the 49ers runners. Raheem Mostert gained 87 yards on just 12 carries (7.3-yard average) while Matt Breida carried 14 times for 61 more (4.4-yard average).
Throughout the game, the San Francisco offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage. They set the tone on their first offensive play of the game, a toss sweep left to Breida that gained seven yards. The running back wasn’t touched until after he had gained five yards as each 49ers blocker won their battle with their Green Bay defensive counterpart.
Of course, the rushing defense’s failings wouldn’t be quite so problematic if the defense was consistently stopping the pass.
3. The Pass Coverage Was Poor
The Packers pass coverage was also sub par. C.J. Beathard, who nobody is ready to mistake for Joe Montana or Steve Young, finished the game with a 115.3 passer rating. He had time to throw throughout the game and averaged more than 15 yards per completion.
Both safeties continued to take poor tackling angles and were beaten deep on several occasions. The poor run defense made the play action pass a strong weapon for most of the game.
The good news was that the defense did rise to the occasion with the game on the line, coming up with some key stops in the closing minutes. Nick Perry knocked down three passes in the game and Kevin King came up with a timely interception that set up the final drive, but if the defense plays this way against Jared Goff and Tom Brady in the next two games, these contests won’t be competitive.
4. Aaron Rodgers Came Through in the Clutch
Aaron Rodgers didn’t have a consistent four quarters, but when the game was on the line, he was at his best. Rodgers kept his cool and delivered in the clutch.
The Packers trailed 30-23 with three minutes left in the game when Rodgers took control. From that point on, with no margin for error, Rodgers went 6-of-9 for 102 yards and a touchdown while adding 21 yards on a key scramble for a big first down. One of those incompletions was to kill the clock.
The Packers franchise quarterback not only kept the chains moving, but with no timeouts on the final drive, he got the ball to his receivers near the sideline and found ways to stop the clock.
Best of all, Rodgers kept his cool and helped his team remain confident that their leader would find a way to rally the team. He did and they won the game.
5. The Packers Have Receiver Depth
Three players topped 100 yards receiving for the Packers on Monday night. Davante Adams who had a dominant performance, Jimmy Graham, who had his best game since joining the Packers, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who came up with a big 60-yard reception in the first quarter.
Equanimeous St. Brown made an incredible clutch catch during the final drive that earned a key first down and stopped the clock. It was his only catch of the game, but it was an important one and showed tremendous skill in the way he made the catch, got his feet down and managed to get out of bounds.
The Packers should get both Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison back after the bye week. The rookie receivers gained valuable experience during their absence and that plus extra practice time during the bye week should make the Packers receiving corps even better for the rest of the season.
6. The Pass Rush Still Isn’t Getting There
The Packers still haven’t found a steady pass rush. Yes, they managed two sacks against the 49ers, but for most of the day, Beathard had too much time to throw the football. He could easily find his second or even third target and rarely had to scramble to buy time.
Most of the Packers sacks have been due to good coverage rather than a strong initial pass rush. That trend continued against San Francisco.
While Pettine’s defense is designed to confuse opposing quarterbacks and send rushers from many different places, they still aren’t getting to the quarterback consistently.
The Pack needs to use to the bye week to get more comfortable playing Pettine’s schemes and to find a way to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.