Week 4 Game Recap: Green Bay Packers 29, Carolina Panthers 32
What you need to know
An already poor Green Bay offensive line was further hurt by two early game injuries to starters Mike Flanagan and Chad Clifton. Injuries continued to be a major factor for the Packers throughout the night, as rookie wide receiver Terrence Murphy and most importantly, running back Ahman Green, left the game hurt.
The game looked to be over as the Packers headed into their first drive of the fourth quarter, down 32 to 13. Brett Favre, as he has done so many times in the past, put his team on his back and his arm, and nearly led Green Bay back to what surely would have been a memorable comeback. The final drive came up just short on a fourth down incompletion to Donald Driver. With no timeouts left, Green Bay had lost the game.
Farve turned in another epic Monday night performance, passing for 303 yards and four touchdowns. The score and the loss of Ahman Green in the third quarter effectively ended the running portion of the Packersí game, contributing heavily to Favre's total of 47 attempts, compared to 19 rushing attempts total by the team.
The Panthers played well enough on both sides of the ball to hold on to the win, although they scared themselves a bit by allowing Brett Favre to throw Green Bay back into the ball game in the fourth quarter. Delhomme was efficient and productive enough to get the win.
Delhomme hit tight ends on his touchdown strikes; one to Kris Mangum, the other to Michael Gaines. He distributed the ball well, completing passes to seven different receivers. The running game balanced the Panther's offensive attack in play selection, but not yardage. Despite the low per carry totals for Stephen Davis, he managed to find the end zone twice. One of his scores was set up by a pass interference penalty drawn in the end zone by Julius Peppers, who was in as a wide receiver on the play. DeShaun Foster got his carries as well, and looked better than Davis on most of them. He was also Carolina's best contributor to the passing game.
Ultimately, the efficiency of the Panther's offense, coupled with some key stops by the defense, allowed Carolina to escape with the victory. The Monday Night crew awarded their player of the game to both Favre and Delhomme, in honor of the way the two signal callers led their respective teams.
What you ought to know
|QB Brett Favre, Pass: 28 - 47 - 303 - 4 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 12 - 0|
Favre looked rattled, annoyed, and generally uneven during the first half of the game. He managed to draw the score even early on with a first quarter touchdown pass to tight end David Martin. Once Carolina had gone up big, and the Packers had abandoned the running game, Favre started to light up the scoreboard. Three second half scoring strikes, one each to Donald Driver, Donald Lee, and Antonio Chatman gave Favre his most impressive fantasy performance of the year: 303 yards and four touchdowns. He also connected on two two point conversion passes.
Favre was also off on several of his throws, although his lone interception should be credited to Robert Ferguson's lack of aggressiveness on a ball stolen by defender Ken Lucas. Favre was sacked and fumbled the ball on the first drive of the game, directly leading to Carolina's first seven points. He also contributed a 12 yard scramble late in the game.
Flynn made his first appearance in a regular season game in the fourth quarter when he went in for the injured Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers eventually returned, but Flynn also quarterbacked the final Green Bay drive after Tampa Bay went up by two scores late in the fourth quarter. He completed the first regular season pass of his career to RB Brandon Jackson.
Rodgers entered the game for the final four minutes after Brett Favre suffered an apparent head / shoulder injury. He only attempted three passes, completing two and drawing a pass interference call after Greg Jennings was impeded at the two yard line on what would have been a touchdown.
|RB Ahman Green, Rush: 14 - 36 - 0, Rec: 4 - 23 - 0 (9 targets)|
Green was running the ball well, if not for great yardage, before he injured his leg and left the game for good. The injury didn't look terribly serious, and Coach Sherman likely kept him out to prevent further aggravation of the leg, especially considering how far down the Packers were when it occurred.
When Green was running the ball he showed great effort, breaking several tackles throughout the game, even if just to get back to the line of scrimmage. Favre looked Green's way nine times in the passing game; mostly as a checkdown when the Green Bay quarterback was feeling pressure, or on designed screens.
Davenport got all of the carries once Ahman Green left with an injury in the second half. The Packers were playing catch up though, so his carries were limited.
Henderson caught both balls thrown his way. His first was a short pass that found him in wide open space which he promptly turned it into a 32 yard gain.
There were reports early in the game that the Packers might use Leach more and more at fullback instead of incumbent William Henderson. While he got a couple of looks from Favre, he was far less productive than Henderson.
Cedric Benson's stat line doesn't jump off the page at you - 18 rushes, 84 yards, 4 catches, 22 yards. However, it's clear he has something left in the tank. The Packers offensive line run blocking was up and down, and for the most part, Benson got what was blocked. However, on several occasions, he displayed the ability to move small piles and defenders. I was also relatively impressed by his first cut quickness, as most people assume he's a plodder in the Michael Turner or Shonn Greene vein. Rodgers also used Benson as a safety outlet on several targets, similar to last week. He now has 4 catches in 3 straight weeks, and is proving to be a nicer PPR asset than many people thought before the season started. Benson's YPC average was a solid 4.7, but his long run of the night was 9 yards, as he didn't have any truly huge holes to run through at any point throughout the night. Aaron Rodgers was the only other Packer with more than 1 rush, and it's clear this backfield belongs to Benson.
It appeared that the Packers wanted to get Grant involved early in this game as he received 11 rushes in the first quarter, but those 11 attempts only went for 21 yards. Grant got only four more carriers for the rest of the game and his last nine touches went for a total of negative 9 yards. His third quarter fumble was returned 38 yards for a touchdown by Tampa Bay S Jermaine Phillips.
Seven of Kuhnís nine carries came on the final drive of the game. Kuhn was used as the battering ram to break down the Detroit defense and help run out the final six minutes of the game. Five of those carries went for five or more yards, including the final run of the game for eight yards where the defense followed the blocking to the right side, but Kuhn cut back to the left and ran over a defender to get the first down and end the game. Brandon Jackson was the primary carrier for most of the game, but Kuhn was used to put the game away.
Lacyís very first carry was for a touchdown on a goal line play which capped off a long, efficient drive. In general, this was another disappointing day for the second-year back as he had a hard time gaining any positive yards for most of the day. When there was a hole, Lacy hit it quickly and was able to get through it before the defense could collapse. However, Lacy continues to struggle this season with creating plays when the line isnít blocking well. Last season Lacy excelled even when the box was stacked against him, but that isnít the case now. Some of it is situationaló12 of his runs were on first down, an incredibly predictable play-call which allowed the defense to focus on defending against it. Some of it is also a lot of inside runs when the Bears have been able to stack the middle of the field. But some of it definitely falls on Lacy who, while quick to and through the hole but doesnít seem to be able to get past defenders just past the hole nor get up to speed to reach the second level. Lacy should have had a second touchdown but saw it nullified by an Andrew Quarless hold. Lacy had three runs called back because of penalties.
There are some good things to discuss but it should also be noted on a very crucial 4th and 1 early in the football game Starks ran Off Tackle Right and was stuffed for a loss by Brian Dawkins which put the Denver offense on the field. That was a big play and it could have hurt the Packers when things were still undecided. The rest of the game he was much better and also involved heavily in the short passing game with check downs and screens throughout the game. He was great running out of the shotgun and had a nice 16 yard scamper up the left side in the 1st quarter. In the 4th quarter he had a 28 yard gallop that was set up nicely by his RT who was subbing for the injured Baluga. Starks was not asked to do a lot but Green Bay was throwing it at will so there was no need to dial him up a lot. It was never going to be the James Starks show though. It seemed like the game plan was for green bay to come out throwing especially to open the 2nd half as they went shotgun no huddle and 4 or 5 wide the whole time. Starks did not see a lot of opportunities inside the red zone.
Driver was clearly Farve's favorite target in the game, although he only managed six receptions on 14 targets. Some of those miscues were inaccurate passes by Favre, although Driver did have a couple of drops. He was targeted in the end zone on a Hail Mary type pass at the end of the first half that was nearly completed, nearly intercepted, and definitely out of bounds. Driver got the scoring started for the Packers in the second half, turning in a nice run after catch for a 26 yard touchdown.
Ferguson only contributed 24 yards on 3 receptions. He was also a culprit in Favre's lone interception, as he didn't make as aggressive a play on a pass as he should have, resulting in Carolina's Ken Lucas stealing the ball away from him. He also caught a pass that was good for a two point conversion.
Chatman received the second most targets of any Green Bay wide receiver, including a completion for a four yard fourth quarter touchdown.
Rookie Murphy made good on both his targets. He was involved in the scariest play of the game, as he was leveled with a helmet to helmet blow that injured him and knocked him out of the game. It was clear the injury was considered serious as he was taken off the field in a stretcher. Early reports indicated that he did have some movement in his limbs.
Adams had a really quiet day, but was the target on one of the best passes for a touchdown which didnít count. On that play, Adams ran a fly route on the left side of the offense, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers scrambled to avoid pressure. After ducking a pair of tackles, Rodgers threw a bomb to Adams, who had a few steps on two defenders. Adams made an easy catch for the score, but it was called back for a holding penalty by rookie center Corey Linsley. Adams did a great job of continuing his route and working to get open for his quarterback, then being ready for the pass just in case. Adams did have a drop on a low pass from Rodgers but otherwise ran solid routes and seems to be progressing as a receiver each week.
Despite his sporadic usage this season, it's clear Randall Cobb is a weapon for the Packers. He was utilized all over the field (as we saw in Week 1), including out of the shotgun as a halfback, as a returner, and more. Some might start comparing him to Darren Sproles in terms of versatility, and it's not a terrible comparison. He's fairly elusive, is quick, but won't be as much of a factor in the running game. He had a chunk play of about 15 yards go through his hands. He caught 6 of his 8 targets on the night, including a 3 catch drive to set up Jordy Nelson's touchdown. His last two games were pause for concern, but in games like this against softer defenses, I can completely get behind him as a WR3 in PPR formats, and especially as a solid piece in return yardage formats.
Didnít catch a lot of balls but he had a big move on one of them that erupted for 61 yards and counted as a big chunk of his yards on the day. Cobb was the inside receiver on a 4 WR set and after he caught the pass he spun through the defenders and ended up streaking down the field for the big gain and had he been able to come out of the spin move completely balanced he likely would have scored and Brian Dawkins would have seen vapor trails. this kid is exciting and he has a great QB slinging the ball around. He is going to force his way into more playing time.
Nelson caught four of his five targets, but he averaged only 7.8 yards per catch. His long reception of the game came on Green Bayís first drive when his 11 yard catch on a third down play gave the Packers a first down.
Martin got the start with Bubba Franks inactive with an injured knee. He made the most of his opportunity, catching most everything thrown his way, including a 21 yard first quarter touchdown. He also caught a pass that was good for a two point conversion.
Lee made his only reception of the game count, hauling in a 16 yard touchdown.
Rodgers didnít see much action on Sunday, only playing 22 of the offenseís 52 snaps. He only had two targets, both of which he caught early in the first quarter. On the second of these two, Rodgers was wide open on a deep route which no Bears defender moved to cover. He made an easy catch and rumbled for a few extra yards before the defense could catch him. It still seems as if the Packers are not willing to use either Rodgers or Andrew Quarless consistently from game to game, and have mostly been using them as distractions or to assist the offensive line.
Longwell's value was extremely limited in the game, as three of the four Green Bay touchdowns were followed by attempted two-point conversions. He made his only PAT, and attempted no field goals.
Collectively, the Carolina backfield managed to break the 100 yard mark. Green Bay's rush defense didn't allow either back to explode for huge gains, but they did allow two Stephen Davis scores. Early in the game the unit looked great, stopping Davis time and again for minimal to no gains, including several losses.
The Green Bay pass defense allowed quarterback Jake Delhomme to complete a high percentage of his passes to a wide range of receivers. They allowed two touchdown strikes to wide open tight ends. They didn't allow Delhomme to break the 300 yard mark, but with no interceptions in the game, thatís about their only highlight.
|QB Jake Delhomme, Pass: 17 - 24 - 206 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - -3 - 0|
Delhomme was consistent and efficient in leading his team to the victory. He completed a high percentage of his passes for decent yardage totals and two touchdowns. Delhomme didn't have any clear cut favorite receivers in this game, a marked difference from the high number of targets Steve Smith has seen coming his way most of the year. His two touchdowns went to tight ends; Kris Mangum and Michael Gaines. Delhomme was hit by Gbaja-Biamila and fumbled the ball away to the Packers in the fourth quarter, quickly leading to eight Green Bay points.
Cam Newton continued his stellar start to his rookie campaign with a good display in Chicago. In a hostile environment with the crowd on his back, Newton directed the offense well in the early stages. The Panthers incorporated some read option plays, allowing Newton to read the backside DE and decide whether to keep it or give it to the back. Newton should have had a touchdown pass on the first drive had LaFell, the intended receiver, not lost his footing. Newtonís accuracy was off only a few times in this game, but his first errant pass resulted in a pick six. Newton, backed up inside the ten, threw a pass in the middle of the field to Legedu Naanee with three Bears in his vicinity. Instead of being a low pass that only Naanee could catch, the pass was high. As a result it was tipped and picked off. Newton, to his credit, did not let it bother him and came back with a rushing touchdown, calling his own number off a boot action and out running the defender to the pylon. Newton connected often with Steve Smith who, despite taking massive hits for his trouble, secured the football. Newton lowered his shoulder for a second rushing touchdown later, following the blocks of his interior linemen. Newton showed some great touch on a sideline pass to Jeremy Shockey late in the game and several other times in the game as well. His tools as a passer are enviable. Newton threw a touchdown pass to Greg Olsen with only a few seconds left to finish the game, targeting his tight end on a simple stop route in the end zone. Newton continues to perform well and is a legitimate top ten quarterback in fantasy football.
Davis started the game horribly, totaling negative yardage over his first five carries. Eventually he got going in a positive direction, gaining good yardage through the air and on the ground on his touchdown scoring drive in the second quarter. The second half was also more positive, and included a one yard touchdown run that was set up by a defensive pass interference call drawn by defensive end turned wide receiver (for just one play) Julius Peppers.
Foster looked better than Davis in both areas of the game, but didn't see as many touches or the end zone. He made one of the highlight plays of the night, catching a pass and dragging his would be tackler with him before going out of bounds. Foster averaged over four yards a carry and was the Panthersí leading receiver.
|RB Brad Hoover, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0, Rec: 3 - 20 - 0 (3 targets)|
Hoover only saw a couple of carries but proved to be a reliable target for Delhomme out of the backfield, gaining 20 yards on three receptions.
Goings was a not a factor, gaining zero yards on one carry.
A victim of the malaise of the Panthers rushing attack, Darrin Reaves was forced into action when DeAngelo Williams exited the game in the second quarter with an injury. Reaves was a willing runner, but showed very little burst and could not maintain his balance, resulting in a few disappointing carries for no gain. The Ravens front seven did an excellent job funnelling the Panthers backs to their help and with the game getting away from Carolina, Reaves was mostly asked to pass protect.
Stewart split carries with DeAngelo Williams. He is the harder runner of the two and showed an ability to break tackles. Stewart scored the first touchdown of the game on an eight yard run. The play started to the middle, but Stewart broke a tackle and bounced it outside, exhibiting ample speed to get to the corner.
Stewart also returned three kickoffs for 60 yards.
Primarily used as a pass protector and a check-down option with the return of Jonathan Stewart to the line-up, Mike Tolbert is nonetheless a valuable asset for the backfield. Tolbert is a capable pass blocker, which in turn takes away from the snap counts of both Williams and Stewart. Tolbert had a couple of short receptions that he turned into 5- or 6-yard gains, but overall his impact was limited. He also dropped a pass over the middle that would have kept a drive alive.
Williams is still being used as a change of pace running back, spelling Foster and sometimes trying to kick start the Panthers on offense. He broke a 31 yard run on his first carry of the day, but then had just one more rush (for no gain) before the fourth quarter. He was rather effective in the final period, gaining 31 yards on six carries and adding a nine yard catch.
Williams continues to also serve as a kickoff return man.
Colbert awoke from his two week catch less slumber to make some nice plays. His four receptions were good for 52 yards (second only to DeShaun Foster). He made a nice run after catch for a first down by running sideways to utilize a good Foster block.
Smith was a major disappointment after a huge week three. He was the primary concern of the Packersí secondary and it was reflected in his stats. They focused on shutting him down and were very successful in doing so.
Like veteran Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant was the victim of a poor offensive display by Carolina as they were unable to get any kind of rhythm. Penalties interrupted drives, while pressure on Newton put paid to any form of consistent passing attack in comeback mode. Avant was unable to exert his influence on the contest apart from a nice catch in traffic on third down to keep the chains moving. Avant's role may increase in coming weeks if the Panthers rushing attack continues to tread water on the injury front.
The rookie receiver performed admirably in a one-sided affair and continued to show progression as a route runner and, indeed, in his all-round game. After being called for a subtle push-off early and drawing a pass interference penalty, Cam Newton went right back to Benjamin for a beautiful touchdown pass, the lone Panthers touchdown of the game. Benjamin beat the cornerback off the line with a nice move and needed only to wait for the football to come to him as the Cover-2 safety on his side of the field was drawn inside. Benjamin came within inches of a second touchdown, his foot just touching the white in the end zone on a pretty over the shoulder grab. The comfort level is growing between Newton and Benjamin, with Newton continuing to put the football in locations where only a player of Benjamin's length could come up with it. The rookie fought bravely for the remainder of the game, showing good hands on several pitch and catch passes as the Panthers dinked and dunked their way down the field, and will be one of the positives for the offense to build on going forward.
In a game that got away from the Panthers in a heartbeat, Cam Newton and veteran Jerricho Cotchery were able to connect on two picture perfect passes along the sideline, with Newton dropping it in the bucket. Cotchery was as reliable as ever on third down, running intermediate patterns and presenting a viable target for his quarterback. However, as the game got out of hand and Baltimore built up their time of possession advantage, Cotchery and the Panthers offense was grounded. The trust is clearly there between Newton and Cotchery, however, and the veteran will continue to play a key role in this sputtering passing attack.
Kealoha Pilaresí lone catch was a WR screen pass that turned into a touchdown, in large part due to good blocks downfield from the offensive line and receiving corps.
Mangum caught the first touchdown of the game, from two yards out.
Gaines made good on both his targets, and surprised with his first ever touchdown, a 19 yarder from Delhomme in the second quarter.
Greg Olsen, perhaps a little too eager in the early stages to make a promising start against his former team, was called for false start and holding penalties in the first quarter. He settled down as the game progressed though, and had a good catch on a dig route which was called back by a penalty. Newton relied on Olsen in the short to intermediate passing attack, especially in the two minute drill situations at the end of each half. Olsen finished the game with an impressive one handed TD reception in the dying seconds which he did not celebrate. He reached high into the air for a Newton pass, tipped it to himself and pulled it in for the score. Olsen is a trusted target for Cam Newton and this relationship will continue to blossom as time goes on.
Kasay had a PAT blocked but made his other two tries. He also kicked field goals of 32 and 38 yards.
The Carolina rush defense played well, but owed much of its success to the Carolina offense that kept the Green Bay running game out of most of the game. The defense played Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport well, although Green made a lot of tacklers miss. Nevertheless, only giving up 58 yards on the ground is an unequivocal success.
The pass defense looked good through the first half of the game, even picking off a Favre pass. In the second half, though, Favre turned on his Monday Night magic and shredded the secondary for three touchdowns. All told, the pass defense allowed 300 plus yards and four touchdowns. Still, it was good enough to get the victory.