Monday, October 26, 2020

Packers Bounce Back in Houston

 By Eric Goska

Davante Adams caught 13 passes for 196 yards against the Texans.
(screenshot from NFL Game Pass)

Two different halves. Two different teams. Two different outcomes.

The Green Bay Packers rebounded from their brutal loss in Tampa by knocking off the Houston Texans 35-20 Sunday. In jumping to a 21-0 first-half lead, the team made clear its dismal finish against the Buccaneers was a distant memory.

Concerns abound any time a team loses by 28 points as Green Bay did to Tampa Bay. Can a club correct its mistakes and bounce back?

For the Packers, righting the ship meant snapping back from one of the worst halves under head coach Matt LaFleur. Green Bay left Tampa with its tail squarely between its legs.

Given that, what took place in Texas had to be encouraging. The Packers exorcised their demons despite missing two starters on offense (running back Aaron Jones and left tackle David Bakhtiari) and two on defense (cornerback Kevin King and safety Darnell Savage).

So let’s back up and start in Tampa. Down 28-10, Green Bay’s offense all but disappeared in the second half. Afforded five possessions, the unit generated three first downs, 52 yards and zero points.

Not once did it cross midfield. Its deepest penetration – if it can be called that – reached the Green Bay 47-yard line from where quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw to Davante Adams who made the catch out of bounds. JK Scott then punted.

Fast forward to Houston. Green Bay again had five possessions – although this time in the first half –and was far more successful producing 15 first downs, 253 yards and 21 points.

The team wasted little time in crossing midfield. Jamaal Williams, who started in place of Jones, powered 17 yards with a pass to the Houston 40 on the team’s fourth offensive play.

Jamaal Williams
(NFL Game Pass)
On that gain, Houston safety Justin Reid drew a 15-yard penalty (lowering the head to initiate contact), and Williams’ helmet popped off. The jarring hit only fired up the hard-charging back.

Williams grabbed 83 first-half scrimmage yards, 45 on the ground. Only twice before in his four-year career has he accumulated more in a first half.

Despite that production, Adams led the Packers with 114 yards on eight receptions in the opening 30 minutes. It was the fourth time in his career that the gifted receiver has topped 100 receiving yards in the first half of a regular-season game.

The Packers’ defense deserves some kudos as well. Green Bay permitted the Texans to run just four plays beyond the 50 (Green Bay ran 17) and zero in the red zone. Houston’s best drive ended after Ka’imi Fairbairn sent a 41-yard field goal attempt wide left late in the second quarter.

For its efforts, Green Bay erected its biggest halftime lead (21-0) of the season. The team is 42-0 all-time in the regular-season when holding an opponent scoreless in a first half while posting 20 or more points itself.

Sunday was only the second time since Rodgers became a starter in 2008 that the team had to put a half in which it failed to run a play beyond the 50 in its rearview mirror. It put up a goose egg in the second half against the Vikings on Sept. 15, 2019, then came back to tally 17-first half points on the way to toppling the Broncos 27-16.

The Packers have been limited to their side of the field in one half or the other in 26 games since 1935. Their record in those games is 7-19 (.269).

Half Empty, Half Full

Since 1935, the most yards the Packers have amassed in a half following a half in which they failed to run a single offensive play beyond midfield.

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