2021 Week 12 - That's What Cheese Said

Hear from the head coach and key players following Green Bay's 36-28 victory over the Rams. 

The Green Bay Packers head into a much-needed bye week with a 9-3 record, now holding another important tiebreaker over the Los Angeles Rams. Head Coach Matt LaFleur said the players will be off until Monday, and then they’ll be back in the building to get to work prepping for the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football in Week 14. 

Sunday’s 36-28 victory felt like one of the most complete games of the season for the Packers. The offense put up 399 net yards, the defense and special teams combined to force three turnovers, including a pick-six, and special teams successfully completing 3-of-4 field goal attempts. 

“I think we’ve been improving,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said post-game. “Offensively the last couple weeks we’ve played better football for sure.”

Rodgers ended the day with 28 completions for 307 yards and two touchdowns through the air while adding a rushing touchdown on a fractured toe. His longest of the day was a 54-yard completion to Randall Cobb, who left the game at halftime with a groin injury. His status remains unknown heading into the bye week. 

Even with the productivity on offense, including Davante Adams hauling in eight catches for 104 yards to put him over 1,000 yards on the season for the third time in his career, the team feels there’s more out there for them on that side of the ball. 

“This should’ve been a 40-point game for us, like we felt last week,” said Rodgers. “We’re just not clicking in the red zone.” 

The Packers went 3-of-5 in the red zone for a 60% success rate, but struggled converting third downs despite holding the ball for almost 40 minutes. On third downs, the Packers went 7-of-19 for a 36.8% success rate. 

“Fact is, we had some opportunities in the red zone, but we still put up 30 points on offense, and against a great defense that’s a pretty good night,” said Rodgers. 

In the backfield, AJ Dillon led the charge, putting up 69 yards on 20 carries for a 3.8 yard average. He also caught five passes for 21 yards and a touchdown. Aaron Jones was back with the team after missing last week’s game against the Vikings with an MCL injury, but he only saw 10 rushing attempts. 

“It’s 1A-1B,” LaFleur said of the backfield. “They both are very versatile backs in terms of their ability to run the football, their ability to pass protect, and then as weapons out of the backfield. I think both of those guys are just premier backs in this league.”

While the tandem’s numbers may not seem eye-popping, combining for just 92 yards on the ground, Green Bay’s commitment to the run game against a stout defensive front is impressive, and Dillon was able to sustain drives to burn the clock when it mattered most. 

“I think anytime you’re going against a front of that magnitude, you need to stay with the run,” said LaFleur. “It wasn’t always pretty. There were some hard-fought yards. I was really proud of our backs. How they ran. Especially late in the game when everybody knows you’re going to run the football. Also our offensive line, the way they battled.”

That offensive line gave up only one “phantom” sack as Rodgers put it on a scramble for no gain. Left tackle Yosh Nijman and the rest of the unit filled in admirably against a front led by All-Pro Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, and new addition Von Miller. 

“The fact that we dropped back 45 times...I thought they did a hell of a job,” LaFleur said.

“I gave him a big hug after the game and told him I almost forgot about that side of the line, and that’s a huge compliment,” Rodgers said of Nijman’s performance. 

Defensively, the Packers got after the Rams all day, holding Los Angeles to 4-of-13 on third downs and not allowing any rushing attempt longer than seven yards.

One key contributor on defense was Rasul Douglas, who joined the team in October and has had a significant impact since. With Kevin King out for Sunday’s game and Jaire Alexander on injured reserve, Douglas once again filled in as the second boundary corner opposite rookie Eric Stokes. 

“Shoutout to our scouting department,” Adams said when asked about some of the free agents Green Bay has brought in this season. 

Douglas secured his first NFL pick-six on Sunday, jumping a route he recognized on film. He finished the game with four pass breakups and five total tackles. 

“I just love how he competes,” LaFleur said of Douglas, crediting Brian Gutekunst and his staff for finding him. “It’s rare that you find a guy like that mid-season.”

Green Bay’s front also got pressure on Matthew Stafford all game. Rashan Gary returned from his one-game absence to force a fumble that Preston Smith recovered, and lineman Kenny Clark added a sack of his own later in the game. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry also got the win against his former team.

“It was a lotta cuss words and happiness,” Clark said smiling when asked about Barry’s mood post-game. “He’s excited. I mean he was there last year and to beat your former team, and your defense, what’d we have, three turnovers? That’s something for him to brag about.

“Coach Barry, we love him. He’s a great guy. His energy is great and he’s definitely a players coach. We play hard for him.”

Even with the forced fumble and interception returned for a touchdown, the defense had other opportunities to make big plays, including a second potential interception for Douglas and a could-have-been pick-six for Stokes to seal the game. 

“The ceiling is so high with the guys here. We have so much talent,” said Douglas. “We still haven’t played our best ball yet,” adding that when they do, it could get scary. 

And despite sitting at 9-3, nobody is looking ahead to potential playoff seeding. 

“Don’t want to skip any steps now and it come back to haunt us,” Douglas said of the team’s thought process knowing they’re in contention for a No. 1 seed in the NFC. 

“In two weeks, we’ll see what type of team we are then,” added Adams. “You’ve gotta prove it every week in this league. The teams that don’t believe that, they get humbled quick.” 

The Packers will have the week off to get healthy, and it’s possible on the other side of the bye they could have reinforcements returning in All-Pros David Bakhtiari, Alexander, and Za’Darius Smith. While no return dates have been provided, the team is optimistic all three could come back at some point this season. Rookie center Josh Myers could also come back in time for the playoffs. 

Under LaFleur, Green Bay has still yet to lose back-to-back regular season games. “It’s never easy in this league but you definitely appreciate the times when you win hard-fought football games.”

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

6 points

Comments (7)

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murf7777's picture

November 30, 2021 at 01:07 pm

It will be interesting who gets the playing time if both King and Alexander get healthy. I’m thinking Stokes, Alexander and Douglas….Douglas might not have King’s speed but he’s very opportunistic and makes more plays. Sullivan is nothing special.

5 points
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Brockrice99's picture

November 30, 2021 at 02:47 pm

My guess is Stokes on one side, Jaire on the other side, Chandon in the slot, and Rasul and King rotating in situationally. I could even see Rasul possibly taking some of Henry Black's snaps because they are very similar in size, but Rasul has shown so much more potential.

2 points
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Leatherhead's picture

November 30, 2021 at 06:18 pm

If we want to win the title, we need contributions from everyone. King absolutely will play, and so will the others. It’ll keep guys fresher.

4 points
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porupack's picture

November 30, 2021 at 04:42 pm

>>>>>In two weeks, we’ll see what type of team we are then,” added Adams. “You’ve gotta prove it every week in this league. The teams that don’t believe that, they get humbled quick.” <<<<<

Great quote. So true. I like when the team has an underdog chip on their shoulder and they are expected to get whooped.

Apologies to Barry. Starting to believe he's pretty good.

>>>>>“We still haven’t played our best ball yet,” adding that when they do, it could get scary.<<<<<

well 32 teams can say the first part, that they haven't played their best ball yet. But not many would be too scary. For those who do it from here out, there is a nice trophy.

2 points
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Leatherhead's picture

November 30, 2021 at 06:25 pm

The Vikings played their best football against Green Bay. They can’t play any better than that.

Four FG attempts looks to me like we’re leaving points on the field and not finishing drives. We can play better.

3 points
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wildbill's picture

November 30, 2021 at 07:37 pm

Seems like Barry has been a good hire. Not knocking him but the addition of Campbell and what seems to be better tackling, among some other things, has helped lift this defense. In Pettine’s defense there were many times he had called a defense that put our people in position to make a play and a missed tackle/assignment allowed a positive play.
That being said, Pettine’s habit of playing soft with 2/3 linemen used to drive me nuts and I’m happy we have someone who seems to have a good game plan and can make adjustments during the game.

2 points
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Charvid's picture

November 30, 2021 at 07:41 pm

Kind of a statement game…for sure a couple of statement drives, where the Packers seem to say, “You may know exactly what we’re going to do, but we’re going to do it anyway”.

Remember how, not too long ago , the Packers were known solely as a “finesse team” and teams known as “tough guys” (49er’s, Seahawks, Rams) always got the best of us. We now seem much tougher and don’t seem scared of anyone.

3 points
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