51 degrees/ 5 MPH wind
Key Decision #1:
- The Packers decided to come out aggressive in the passing game. It worked initially, however, it became noticeable that QB Aaron Rodgers, despite making plays early on, was rusty from being out eight weeks due to injury. He threw three interceptions, the latter two which were the result of poor decision-making. For that reason, they should have relied more on the running game.
Key Decision #2:
- Green Bay abandoned the running game. They were hitting the Panthers early with runs from Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and Aaron Rodgers. They abandoned this when they went down in the game. The last handoff to a running back was to Jamaal Williams with 3:48 in the third quarter on a third and one play.
- Rodgers made plays with his feet rushing six times for 43 yards. Aaron Jones had only three carries, but ran for 47 yards. They finished with 120 yards on 19 carries. The Packers became one dimensional and there was no need to be.
Key Decision #3:
- The Packers elected to go for it on 4th down on a number of occasions. While on the Carolina 35-yard line and with 2:57 left in the third quarter and down 24-14, Aaron Rodgers ran for a seven-yard gain and a first down to extend a drive that resulted in the Packers cutting the lead to seven. This was a good 4th down attempt as a punt here would have not made sense and a field goal attempt would have been a long try.
- In the fourth quarter, down 14, the Packers go for it on 4th and 14 from the Carolina 30-yard line and Rodgers is sacked forcing a turnover on downs. This was a good 4th down attempt as a field goal would have been of little benefit to them down 14 at this stage in the game. They just didn’t convert.
Key Decision #4:
- Green Bay used the clock well at the end of the half and scored on a 33-yard strike from Rodgers to WR Randall Cobb. They were able to do this even though they burned two timeouts earlier (late in the first quarter and early in the second).
Key Decision #5:
- In the second half, QB Newton came out running and RPO plays became a bigger part of the Carolina offense. This was what they needed to do to loosen up the Packers defense. Newton would finish with 14 rushes for 58 yards. On third down, Newton converted a number of third downs with his legs. During the game, he was 20-of-31 for 242 yards with four TDs and rushed for 58 yards on 14 attempts.
Key Decision #6:
- Up 17-14, second year wide receiver, Damiere Byrd catches a touchdown pass in the end zone that was initially ruled incomplete. Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera challenged the call on the field, against the advice of a vocal TE Greg Olsen, and the call was overturned. It was determined that Byrd’s backside landed inbounds. It was good to see that Olsen values having timeouts and was passionate about preserving a timeout.
Key Decision #6:
- Burning timeouts. Down 14, in the 4th quarter, the Packers didn’t move down the field with any urgency. They went on a 14-play, 35-yard possession that took 6:43 off the clock that resulted in a turnover on downs. During this, they also burned a second timeout after a 3rd down sack. On 4th and 14, another Panthers sack had the Packers turn the ball over on downs. Earlier in the half (1:31 in the third quarter), the Packers burned a timeout after a second down incompletion at the Carolina 10-yard line.
- The Panthers gameplan involved getting more players into the offensive gameplan. Early on, it was a heavy dose of Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers 15-play, 75-yard first drive ended with a McCaffrey 7- yard touchdown grab. On that drive, he accounted for 60 yards on nine touches. He would finish with 18 touches total (12 carries for 63 yards and six catches for 73 yards). Greg Olsen had his best game of the game season (9 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown).
- The Packers with Rodgers started getting the ball to more playmakers. Randall Cobb appeared after being nearly absent during Rodgers’ absence. Also the Packers running game could have been a factor had they stuck with the run.