I report on the Green Bay Packers.
The Green Bay Packers weren’t flashy in their 31-13 dismantling of the New York Giants on a snowy Sunday afternoon. But the Packers were meticulous and efficient while defeating an inferior foe.
Green Bay improved to 9-3 overall and took a ½-game lead over Minnesota (8-3) in the NFC North. The Vikings play at Seattle Monday night.
The Giants lost for an eighth straight week and slipped to 2-10.
Here’s the good, bad and ugly from Green Bay’s win over the Giants.
MASON CROSBY: The Packers’ 13th year kicker had a stellar day despite kicking with an extremely heavy heart.
On Friday, Crosby’s sister-in-law, Brittany, died after a three-year fight with ovarian cancer. Crosby flew to Texas to be with his family, then rejoined his team in New Jersey on Saturday.
“We’ve had a tough couple days as a family,” Crosby said afterwards. “I’ve just been praying and everyone just keep Brittany, my sister-in-law’s family, in your prayers, and my brother and our family. It’s not anything you ever want to go through. She fought til the end. I definitely have a heavy heart right now.”
Despite the tumultuous week, Crosby drilled a 47-yard field goal in the snow and made all four of his extra points. Crosby is now 14-of-15 on field goals this season (93.3%). In Crosby’s first 12 seasons, his best year came in 2013 when he made 89.2% of his kicks.
Afterwards, Crosby headed back to Texas to be with his brother, Rees, and several other family members.
“In this situation, I’m trying to be a rock and be there for my brother and for Brittany’s family and try to be whatever I can and be available and be there as much as possible and support them,” Crosby said.
AARON RODGERS: Green Bay’s former MVP-quarterback had been in a miserable slump. Rodgers had thrown just two touchdowns in his last three games and hadn’t posted a passer rating higher than 85.5 since October.
“I’ve got to take the lead and get hot in December here and we’ve got to start finding ways to get the ball to our guys all the time,” Rodgers said last week.
Rodgers certainly got hot against the overmatched Giants’ secondary, throwing four touchdowns and completing 21 of 33 passes for 243 yards to finish with a 125.4 passer rating.
Rodgers threw a pair of TDs to Davante Adams, and one each to wideout Allen Lazard and tight end Marcedes Lewis.
Granted, the Giants entered the game ranked just 27th in passing yards allowed per game (260.0) and 25th in opponent passer rating (99.5). But after a rough month, Rodgers needed to get back on track and did just that.
ALLEN LAZARD: The Packers have been desperately seeking a No. 2 wide receiver all season. The search might be over.
Lazard, who went undrafted in 2018 and spent most of last season on Jacksonville’s practice squad, has become Aaron Rodgers’ second-most trusted receiver.
On Sunday, Lazard caught three passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. In the first half alone, Lazard had two catches for 80 yards and a 37-yard touchdown reception.
The Packers have been looking for somebody — anybody — to emerge as a complement to Davante Adams. Perhaps that search is over.
“I’m really happy for Allen,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “Here’s a guy that from the day we got here has just been about the right stuff. He gives it his all each and every day. He plays physical. That’s his game. And then he contributes on special teams. And so, he’s earned his opportunities.”
BRYAN BULAGA: The Packers’ standout right tackle suffered a sprained MCL a week ago that knocked him out of Green Bay’s loss to San Francisco. Originally, it appeared Bulaga would miss at least a game or two. Instead, Bulaga was in the starting lineup Sunday and held up extremely well.
Bulaga’s return was huge for Green Bay’s offensive line. When Bulaga exited a week ago, the dropoff to Alex Light was dramatic and one reason the Packers allowed five sacks against the 49ers.
With Bulaga back this week, Green Bay didn’t allow a single sack.
“What a clutch performance in terms of being able to battle back from a pretty significant injury,” LaFleur said. “So, really happy for him. I think it speaks a lot about who he is as a man, as a player. And he’s really important to this football team.”
TAKEAWAYS: Green Bay entered the game tied for 10th in the NFL in takeaways with 16. The Packers then intercepted Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones three times.
Cornerback Kevin King intercepted Jones in the first half, and both safety Darnell Savage and cornerback Tramon Williams picked Jones off in the second half.
The Packers’ opportunistic defense helped them limit Jones to a 49.4 passer rating.
“We were just trying to get the ball back to (the offense) as much as we can,” King said. “And turnovers, that’s a big indicator of wins and losses.”
DAVANTE ADAMS: Green Bay’s Pro Bowl wide receiver didn’t have a touchdown reception through the first 11 weeks of the season. But Adams has three touchdowns in the last two games — including two against the Giants.
From 2016-’18, Adams had 35 touchdown receptions — the second-most in football. Now, after a quiet start in 2019, Adams appears to be back on track.
RUN GAME: The Packers couldn’t get their running game going and finished with just 79 rushing yards in 26 carries (3.0).
Starter Aaron Jones had just 18 yards rushing on 11 attempts (1.6). No. 2 running back Jamaal Williams had 41 yards on 10 carries (4.1).
“Certainly there’s a lot of room for improvement with our run game,” LaFleur said.
DAVID BAKHTIARI: The Packers’ left tackle was rated as the No. 1 tackle in football last season by Pro Football Focus. But Bakhtiari hasn’t played near that level in 2019.
On Sunday, Bakhtiari was whistled for his 12th penalty of the year — the most in the NFL. If Green Bay is going to make a deep postseason run, Bakhtiari must return to his pre-2019 form.
ROBERT TONYAN: The Packers second-year tight end had a pair of critical penalties, despite a limited snap count.
Tonyan was called for holding in the fourth quarter, which negated a touchdown by Aaron Jones. Then with the Packers trying to run out the clock, Tonyan was flagged for a false start, which eventually forced Green Bay to punt.