The Green Bay Packers faced a tall task Sunday night at Lambeau Field; stop the NFL’s rushing leader Derrick Henry and the AFC South leading Tennessee Titans. The Packers did just that in a 40-14 victory.
Full disclosure: on this week’s episode of TO:SS, I made my worries about this game known. The rushing defense of Green Bay had been playing far better, but this was Derrick Henry. I thought for SURE, he was headed for over 200 yards and multiple scores. Instead, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine employed a 6 down lineman, 1 linebacker defensive base, and essentially stopped the NFL’s rushing leader. Henry’s nine game streak of 100 yard rush games was snapped. I was happy to be wrong.
In the snow globe that was Lambeau Field, the offense had no issues. The field was in excellent condition and the Green Bay offense had no issues with footing. They were mentally and physically ready for the challenge of playing in the winter conditions. The Titans, clearly, were not. They looked timid in their ability to run and cut. The conditions got to them, as much as the Green Bay offense did.
The score provides an aesthetically pleasing picture for the shallow. (The doom scrollers had a short-lived field day, when Tannehill went 45-yards to the house to make it a 19-14 ballgame.) For those who look deeper, they realize this game presented much more than aesthetics.
All season we’ve heard how Green Bay hasn’t beaten any winning teams, how they’ve not been able to play a complete game, and how they haven’t been able to stop the run. This game was a big response to all those criticisms.
This was not just a response, but a warning. A warning that if Green Bay get home field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs, be prepared to deal with the elements, the Lambeau mystique, and a well oiled team that can win in a multitude of ways.
Green Bay has another piece of business to handle, to secure home field advantage. A huge game in Chicago, against their longtime rival awaits. The Bears come into Week 17’s matchup vying for a playoff spot of their own. Much at stake in the final week of the regular season.