Well, not really. But this was an ugly, sloppy game, no doubt about it. Green Bay beat Dallas, 17-7, but neither team looked good today. There were 22 total penalties committed during this game. Green Bay committed twelve penalties, giving up 100 yards in the process. That’s a touchdown, for God’s sake! And it’s not as if they played particularly well on either side of the ball, either, especially during the first half.
The first half was as boring a half of football as I’ve ever seen. No one scored until two seconds were left in the half, when Mason Crosby connected for a field goal. Up until that point, the only other near-scoring drives ended with missed field goals. More than anything else, penalties and turnovers dictated the pace of this game. While the box score would suggest differently, due to low total yardage, neither side played good defense as far as I was concerned. It was more like each team was beating itself, and the game came down to who could beat themselves less. Every drive would stall out due to some kind of incompetence by the offense. If they weren’t turning the ball over (3 by the Cowboys), they were committing penalties or taking sacks (5 sacks against Tony Romo, 4 against Aaron Rodgers). It was a slow, boring first half that took forever to end. The second half went faster, with three touchdowns being scored, but it was definitely more of the same issues: turnovers, penalties, and sacks.
To be fair, Green Bay outplayed Dallas and deserved to win… but barely. The Packers had more success stopping the run than the Cowboys did (61 yards on the ground vs. 105 for the Packers), which forced Dallas into a more one-dimensional offense. This allowed the Packers to blitz more freely, especially off the blind side, and it worked pretty well. I was especially impressed with Charles Woodson, who notched 9 tackles, a sack, 2 forced fumbles, and an interception in the end zone that all but sealed the Packers’ victory. If the defense plays at this level, I think Green Bay will be able to make it to the playoffs, especially considering their next two opponents are San Francisco and Detroit.
Offensively, I don’t think Green Bay improved particularly in regards to their biggest liability: their offensive line. Aaron Rodgers was still sacked multiple times. They still had trouble establishing a passing game because Rodgers could never get settled in the pocket (only 178 yard of passing offense, as compared with Dallas’s 217). And despite a decent running game, especially from Ryan Grant (105 total rushing yards, 79 for Grant), it never felt like the offense was really gelling and working as a unit. It took them nearly three quarters of the game before they were finally able to punch it in for a touchdown.
The important thing, the only thing people will remember tomorrow, is that Green Bay won and Dallas lost. If it comes to a tie for playoff seeding, Green Bay now has the tiebreaker. But Green Bay is skating on thin ice playing like this. They have to tighten up offensively, protect Aaron Rodgers MUCH better, and stop committing so many dumb penalties if they want to go anywhere come January.