The Green Bay Packers had a dominant performance in the regular season home finale, crushing the Tennessee Titans 40-14 in the snow at Lambeau Field.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 231 yards and four touchdowns while rookie A.J. Dillon ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns as the Packers cruised to victory.
The win improved the Packers record to 12-3-0. They have the inside track for the top seed in the NFC playoffs and would clinch it by beating the Bears in Chicago next Sunday afternoon.
Here are 10 things we learned from the Packers 40-14 victory over the Titans:
- A.J. Dillon Has the Goods
Many fans have been waiting all season for Dillon to get a chance to show what he can do. In Week 16, he finally got it. With Jamaal Williams inactive due to an injury. Dillon ran hard and well. He gained 124 yards in 21 carries and scored two touchdowns. That’s a 5.9-yard average.
Dillon has huge thighs and is very tough to bring down. He looked more like Derrick Henry tonight then Henry did and that bodes well for the Packers in the playoffs and next season.
The Boston College alum even caught a couple of passes out of the backfield although only one of them counted.
The Green Bay running game was outstanding with Aaron Jones adding 94 yards in just 10 carries including a huge 59-yard run that set up a key Packers touchdown.
- The Run Defense Did the Job
If you take a quick look at the statistics, it looks like the Titans ran the ball well, but sometimes statistics can be deceiving. Yes, Henry gained 98 yards on 23 carries, a 4.3-yard average, but many of those yards came in the final quarter and a half when the game was already decided and the Packers didn’t mind letting him gain five yards at a time so long as the clock kept moving.
The key stat is that Henry’s long run of the game was just 11 yards and the Packers kept him out of the end zone.
Yes, Ryan Tannehill’s 45-yard touchdown run was embarrassing, but it was also the last points Tennessee would score all night.
Mike Pettine had two ILBs on the field at the same time more than he usually does and the Packers defense proved equal to the task when it mattered most.
- Davante Adams Is in the Zone
There isn’t a defensive back in the NFL who wants to try to stop Davante Adams right now. Tae and Rodgers have unique chemistry and he is so elusive off the snap that he’s extremely difficult to slow down.
Adams finished the game with 11 catches in 12 targets for 142 yards and three touchdowns. He now has 17 touchdown catches for the season despite missing two complete games and part of another due to injury.
Adams beat double coverage in the end zone on one of his touchdown passes that illustrated his football intelligence and his chemistry with Rodgers. He made one move that beat both defenders, found an open spot in the end zone and stopped just as the ball arrived.
Watching Adams and Rodgers operate right now is just pure joy for Packers fans who really should enjoy seeing great players perform at the top of their games.
- Aaron Rodgers Should Be MVP
The cold, the wind and the snow couldn’t slow down Rodgers on Sunday night. He finished the game by completing 21-of-25 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns. That’s good for a 128.1 quarterback rating that would have been even higher had he not thrown an interception late in the second half.
Rodgers was surgical and efficient. You get the feeling if more plays were needed, he would have simply gone out and done it. The Packers outgained the Titans 448-260 and held the ball for 36:37 compared to just 23:23 for Tennessee.
Rodgers now has more than 4,000 yards passing for the season, the nineth time he’s reached that milestone. He has 44 touchdowns and just five interceptions and continues to play outstanding football nearly every week.
- The Offensive Line Played Very Well
The Packers welcomed starting center Corey Linsley back into the lineup and Linsley and his linemates played another strong game in the cold and the snow.
Rodgers was only sacked once while the running backs averaged 6.3-yards per rush, 7.0-yards per rush if you take away Tim Boyle’s three kneel downs at the end of the game.
The Packers lost Rick Wagner to a knee injury in the second half but Lucas Patrick came in at right guard and played well while Billy Turner moved out to right tackle. The offense didn’t miss a beat.
The versatility of players like Turner, Elgton Jenkins and Patrick helps keep the offense humming even when injuries strike along the line.
- Jaire Alexander Is a Shutdown Corner
If offensive coordinators around the league haven’t noticed yet, here’s some free advice: don’t throw the ball to a receiver covered by Jaire Alexander very often.
Ja’Money had another strong game and prevented the dangerous Titans receivers from creating any big plays.
The longest completion by the Tennessee offense in this game was 19 yards. Sure, the snow helped, but Alexander broke up three passes and kept a dangerous offense in check throughout the game.
- Christian Kirksey Had His Best Game as a Packer
Kirksey has struggled at times this season but he enjoyed his best game of the season Sunday night in the snow.
The former Browns linebacker intercepted a pass and recorded a sack in this game and had one tackle for loss. He played sound positional football (although that will be verified after watching the all-22 game film) and helped the defense get the job done.
It’s easy to pick on players when they struggle, but we also should give them credit when they play well and Kirksey played well against Tennessee.
- Rashan Gary Is Becoming a Consistent Presence
Gary had a rough rookie year but he has really come on this season especially in recent weeks. The second-year man out of Michigan was a regular presence in the Titans backfield as a pass rusher and was credited with five pressures in the game. He also played the run well and was in on five tackles.
Opposing offenses are beginning to discover that there is more to the Green Bay pass rush than Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith.
You also get the feeling Gary has not yet reached his full potential which bodes well for the Packers in the playoffs and beyond.
- Darnell Savage Continues to Shine
Savage continues to play well and he and Adrian Amos have provided the Packer defense with outstanding safety play in the second half of the season. Savage broke up three passes against Tennessee and intercepted one. He had a chance at a second pick but couldn’t hold on to the ball.
The Maryland alum also made five tackles and provided solid run support throughout the game. Watching the Packers two first round picks from 2019 develop into quality players is a very encouraging sign.
- The Packers Rose to the Occasion
The Packers came through with a dominating performance against a quality opponent. They took the lead early, 19-0 and suddenly found themselves in a 19-14 game early in the third quarter. But Jones made the long run that set up Adams’ third TD pass of the game and the Packers never looked back.
After a shaky but winning performance last week against Carolina, the Packers showed how good they can be by dominating the Titans, a team that had a lot on the line and that went to the AFC Championship Game a year ago.
All gas, no brake wasn’t just a slogan this week, the Packers carried it out and that is also encouraging news heading into the playoffs.
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