Bad Brett Returns, But Packers Escape To Stay Alive.Posted:Dec 4th, 2017 2:24 pm
The good news is, if all goes according to plan, that was the last game Brett Hundley will start at Lambeau. His wretched passing performance was masked by a couple of timely zone read runs late, along with a pair of defensive plays that ultimately swung the game in the Pack's overtime win over the Bucs.
I don't know what it is about playing in front of the home fans, But Hundley did not even closely resemble the guy we saw the previous Sunday night in Pittsburgh. He'll have to revert to that guy next Sunday in Cleveland, or the Pack could find itself losing to the currently winless Browns.
The Packers stayed in this one with a solid ground game that averaged nearly seven yards per carry and nearly 200 yards, led by Jamal Williams who has shown he has what it takes to be a lead back in this league. When Aaron Jones returned to spell him for what turned out to be the last play of the game, we were reminded that he can be a game changer when he's on the field. His one carry was the game winner on Sunday.
Hundley's struggles were consistent all afternoon. He missed wide open receivers and made late decisions. The Bucs came in to the game ranked dead last in passing yards allowed, yet Hundley managed just 84 all afternoon. He has become very adept at rendering Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb invisible, so maybe he could moonlight as a magician in the offseason.
Defensively, it was kind of a mixed bag. They sacked a refreshed Jameis Winston seven times and kept big play receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson in check (just four catches for 57 yards between them). Kenny Clark's strip of Winston that Dean Lowry scooped and scored on was the kind of game-changing play we haven't seen enough of this season. And when Kyler Fackrell was untouched on a punt, his block got the Pack's offense moving.
But they still seem confounded by screen passes, and when Jake Ryan and Clark exited with injuries, they could no longer stop the run, making Peyton Barber look like Marion Barber. If not for some strange play calling by the Bucs in the red zone, this game could have gotten away from the Pack late.
But the overtime gods finally gave the Pack a break, giving the Packers the ball first and this time it was Tampa Bay that never got a chance. How many times has this worked against us in recent years? Williams' and Hundley's legs carried the Pack down the field and Jones provided the exclamation point that kept Green Bay's slim playoff hopes alive.
By all accounts, a win in Cleveland would open the door for Rodgers' return the following week in Carolina. But Green Bay will need a much better game from Hundley. The Browns are competing every week and are much better defensively than the Bucs right now. The return of Josh Gordon gave their offense a boost and the Pack will need to treat this like the playoff game it represents to them.
Sunday's overtime win was a shaky first step in running the table. If they can take care of business next weekend, they'll face the prospect of Aaron Rodgers having Carolina on his mind on December 16th.