Insider: Thumbs up to Crosby, down to 3rd down D
THE BIG PICTURE
This could have been a disastrous loss for the Packers, who were on the wrong end of a 21-3 score with 10 minutes, 38 seconds left in the second quarter.
A loss to the Jets would have put them at 0-2 and facing NFC North Division games at Detroit and Chicago on the horizon.
As it was, Green Bay recovered in time to pull out the 31-24 victory and gain some momentum on both sides of the ball in the second half.
There were a lot of obvious candidates: Jordy Nelson's record-setting day, Aaron Rodgers, Mike Daniels, to name a few. But the player who kept them in the game during the first-half debacle was kicker Mason Crosby.
Not only did he kick three field goals, including a 55-yarder that was the longest-ever by a Packers player at Lambeau Field, but also he had a variety of kickoffs that kept the Jets from starting drives with advantageous field position.
His kickoff to start the second half was placed perfectly near the sideline and returner Saalim Hakim could only run out of bounds at the Jets' 5-yard line.
The Packers' defense couldn't get off the field on the Jets' third possession, and the drive ended with New York scoring for a 21-3 lead. Green Bay's defense had several breakdowns on that drive alone: On third-and-6, with an empty backfield and five receivers split wide, Jets quarterback Geno Smith way too easily ran up the middle for 9 yards and the first down.
Later, on third-and-13, running back Bilal Powell, lined up next to Smith in the shotgun, ran up the middle for 11 yards. On the next play, on fourth-and-2, the Jets converted the first down on an 11-yard pass from Smith to Eric Decker.
It was a brutal drive for the Green Bay defense.
The Jets were trailing 31-24 with 5:06 left in the game when they decided to go for it on fourth-and-4 from the Packers' 36-yard line.
Geno Smith threw what appeared to be a game-tying touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley over Tramon Williams, but apparently Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg called the team's third and final timeout just before the snap, nullifying the touchdown.
Even though the Jets converted the fourth down on the next play, they didn't get into the end zone and turned the ball over on downs.
RANTS AND RAVES
- RANT: The Packers were down 21-3 with 5:44 left in the first half, yet decided to kick a field goal instead of go for it on fourth-and-goal from 2.
- RAVE: Defensive lineman Mike Daniels provided good pressure all day and his hit on Geno Smith's legs as he threw led to Tramon Williams' second-quarter interception.
- RANT: On the ensuing kickoff following Mason Crosby's 55-yard field goal, the Packers tried an onside kick with 3:17 left in first half. It failed and threatened to give back the 3 points after the Jets recovered at their 48.
- RAVE: After the Jets turned the ball over on downs with 3:31 left in the game, the Packers took over at their 28. The question at the time, with the Packers leading by a touchdown, was whether they could run out the clock. They did with a 15-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson to convert on third-and-3. After that, it was kneel-down time.
DID YOU NOTICE?
- In the second half, the Packers' defense gave up only 3 points and 100 total yards. They forced four punts and one turnover on downs.
- Linebacker Clay Matthews showed his closing speed with he chased down dangerous Michael Vick from behind. Vick was in for one fourth-quarter play and rolled to his left but was sacked for a 3-yard loss by Matthews when he couldn't find an open receiver.
- Jets receiver Eric Decker made an amazing toe-dragging catch along the sideline near the start of the third quarter. It was called a catch on the field, but there was thought that maybe he didn't get both feet inbounds. Instead of running a quick play to ensure the call stood, the Jets called a timeout. After the timeout, the Packers decided to challenge the call. After the review, the call was confirmed and the Packers wasted a challenge.
- Aaron Rodgers' second-half stats: 9-of-12 for 163 yards and two touchdowns.