Green Bay Packers safety Morgan Burnett sacks Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert during the third quarter of the game at Lambeau Field on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. / H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette
The Insider's take on Sunday's game between the Green Bay Packers and the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau Field. The Packers won 24-15.
The big picture
A flat performance by the Packers almost came back to bite them, but they pulled out an unmemorable 24-15 victory over the Jaguars in a game that never should have been that close.
Nevertheless, they sit at 5-3 at the halfway point of the season and have their bye week in sight following next Sunday’s home game against the Arizona Cardinals. If ever a team needed a week off to get healthy and to regroup, it’s the Packers.
With Charles Woodson out indefinitely because of the broken collarbone he sustained the previous week at St. Louis, someone on the back end of the defense needed to fill the veteran’s leadership role. Safety Morgan Burnett did that, and then some.
Burnett provided the emotional spark, appearing more vocal than ever before, and he backed it up with his best game of the season — and perhaps the best of his three-year career. Burnett was credited with a game-high 11 tackles.
His third-quarter sack of quarterback Blaine Gabbert for a 16-yard loss on the Jaguars’ first possession of the second half ensured they wouldn’t gain any momentum coming out of the locker room. He blitzed from the left side and was unblocked on a second-and-10 play from Jaguars’ 25-yard line. It could have been an even bigger play had Burnett realized he jarred the ball loose from Gabbert, who recovered the fumble. Burnett did recover the fumble that linebacker Brad Jones forced in the second quarter.
It was just the kind of performance the Packers’ defense needed without Woodson.
Considering the opponent — the faceless, punchless Jaguars — and long list of injured Packers players, this had all the makings of a blah game for the home team. And they played like it.
Other than Burnett and a few others on defense, they didn’t come out with the kind of intensity needed to bury a one-win team that really had no business hanging around until the fourth quarter like it did. In fact, several Packers players said after the game that their intensity level wasn’t what it needed to be in a game like this. Now, maybe it’s one of those chicken-and-egg situations, where the intensity might have come out had they performed better. But maybe they didn’t perform well because of a lack of intensity.
Whatever the case, there weren’t enough players flying around and trying to inject life into the team when it was struggling early in the game.
Play of the game
The Packers put another special teams play for the highlights when Davon House blocked a punt, and Dezman Moses recovered it for a touchdown in the second quarter.
House, who lined up as a jammer on the left but then moved toward the line of scrimmage, had a free path to rookie punter Bryan Anger and became the first Packers player to block a punt since Marcus Wilkins on Sept. 29, 2003 at Chicago.
Moses, who fell on the ball in the end zone, became the first Packers player to return a blocked punt for a touchdown since Tiger Greene on Dec. 2, 1990, at Minnesota.
The Packers got a gift from the officials, who called pass interference on Jaguars cornerback William Middleton on a third-and-7 incompletion to James Jones with two minutes remaining in the game. Middleton appeared to have good coverage, and the Packers would have been forced to punt the ball away with only a six-point lead. But after the penalty, the Packers put the game away with Mason Crosby’s 25-yard field goal with 28 seconds left.
Did you notice?
♦ In replacing Woodson, the Packers split snaps between M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian in the base and nickel package, while both played in the dime.
♦ Defensive coordinator Dom Capers used a four lineman package on a handful of plays, including on the Jaguars’ touchdown on second-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the second quarter. In that package, Jarrett Bush also came in at cornerback. Bush didn’t play in any of the other defensive packages.
♦ Backup offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith lined up in a tackle-eligible position on a few plays.
By the numbers
18: Touchdown passes by Aaron Rodgers in the last five games, the most by a Packers quarterback over a five-game stretch. The previous high was 11 by Rodgers, who did it twice last season.
153: Career touchdown passes by Rodgers, who moved past Bart Starr and into second in team history.
200: Career regular-season games played by Donald Driver, who joined Brett Favre (255) as the only players in team history to play in 200 regular-season games.
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @RobDemovsky.