The Green Bay Packers did enough to pull out their second straight victory and stay within two games of the first place Detroit Lions atop the NFC North Division. They knocked off the Houston Texans 21-13 on a snowy day at Lambeau Field.
Aaron Rodgers completed 20 of 30 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Packers improve to 6-6 on the season.
The Packers couldn’t pick up any ground on first place Detroit. The Lions held Drew Brees without a touchdown pass in New Orleans and beat the Saints 28-13. Detroit has a two game lead on the Packers with four left to play.
The Texans are also 6-6 in the AFC after suffering their third straight loss. They are tied with Tennessee for first place in the AFC South.
The two teams played in a steady falling snow throughout the game. It made the footing treacherous, but it didn’t seem to bother Rodgers and veteran receiver Jordy Nelson. Rodgers and Nelson hooked up for eight receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown.
With the score tied 7-7 midway through the third quarter, the Packers scored the games next two touchdowns. Starting from their own 2-yard line, the Packers marched 98 yards for a touchdown, then followed that up with an 89-yard touchdown drive.
The Packers finished with 109 yards rushing on 26 carries, a 4.2 yard average. 73 of those yards came from Ty Montgomery, Christine Michael and Aaron Ripkowski. James Starks, who started the game at tailback, finished with a single yard on four carries. Starks has just 142 yards on 61 carries this season, averaging 2.3 yards a carry.
It’s become very clear that the Packers aren’t going to get a lot from Starks. He seems to be trying to get everything to the outside instead of using cutback lanes to pick up his rushing yardage.
The question is, with four games left to play, will coach Mike McCarthy put Starks on the bench and use a combination of Montgomery, Michael and Ripkowski the rest of the way. It would seem if McCarthy wants to find a running game, that would be the route he needs to take.
Defensively, the Packers registered two sacks on the day, one of the two from veteran Julius Peppers, who now has 6 1/2 for the season and 142 1/2 for his career. Peppers moved past Michael Strahan and into fifth place on the NFL’s all-time sack list. Peppers has a sack in each of the last three games.
Fellow linebacker Nick Perry hurt his hand but returned from the locker room with a huge club cast on his hand. He played the rest of the way with that cast.
Clay Matthews was playing with a bad shoulder and was on a pitch count. He played only on obvious third down pass rushing situations. But Matthews didn’t show up at all on the stat page. He couldn’t use his left arm at all. He probably needs to take at least a week off. The question is, will the Packers hold him out of the Seattle game this Sunday.
The Packers will travel to Detroit in the season finale on Jan. 1. They’ll need to cut the deficit to one game by the time that meeting takes place. A win at Detroit would give the Packers the head-to-head tiebreaker. But first things first. The Packers have Seattle at Lambeau Field on Sunday, while the Lions host the Chicago Bears. The Packers will need to beat the Seahawks. Assuming Detroit beats Chicago, the Packers can’t afford to fall three games back with three left to play.