The Green Bay Packers used a fast start and a late surge to cruise past the Tennessee Titans in the snow at Lambeau Field on Sunday night.
Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, the defense held Derrick Henry to under 100 yards and the Packers delivered a convincing 40-14 win over a likely playoff team from the AFC.
Here is the good, the bad and the ugly from the Packers’ win over the Titans:
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The start: The Packers delivered the fast start they needed, using three straight scoring drives and three straight defensive stops to create a commanding 19-0 lead in the first half. The early dominance set the tone and flip the game script on the Titans.
The finish: The midgame eventually lull hit, but the Packers responded admirably. After the Titans got a fourth-down stop in the red zone and then created back-to-back scoring drives to cut the lead to 19-14, the Packers fired back with two straight touchdowns, rebuilding the 19-point lead in the second half. Matt LaFleur’s team started on a 19-0 run and ended on a 21-0 run.
The defense: The Packers held Henry to just 98 yards and the No. 1 scoring offense (coming into the week) to just 14 points. Along the way, they created two interceptions and two sacks, completely took away the Titans play-action passing game and allowed just one play over 20 yards.
RB A.J. Dillon: The rookie took full advantage of an opportunity, rushing 21 times for a career-high 124 yards and two touchdowns in the first extended action of his NFL career. He broke the game wide open with a 30-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-1 in the third quarter and then put the exclamation point on the win by bulldozing a pair of Titans on his way to the end zone on the final touchdown.
12 to 17: The incomparable quarterback and receiver duo was at it again, connecting 11 times for 142 yards and three more scores. Davante Adams looked uncoverable in the snow. Adams’ second touchdown was a terrific throw from Aaron Rodgers, and the 32-yard completion from the two in the fourth quarter was nothing short of sublime.
First-round picks: Jaire Alexander broke up three passes, including one on fourth down in the red zone, Darnell Savage intercepted one pass and should have had at least one more, and Rashan Gary held the edge well and created consistent pressure, including one pressure that forced Ryan Tannehill into throwing Savage’s interception. It was a good night for Brian Gutekunst’s first three first-round picks.
Tennessee Titans defensive end Wyatt Ray (57) chases down Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) on Sunday, December 27, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
Points left on the field: The Packers left as many as five points on the field in the first half. It didn’t end up mattering, but it’s still worth noting here. Mason Crosby missed his fourth extra point attempt of the season after the Packers first touchdown. The offense failed the two-point try in an attempt to recoup the lost point following the second touchdown. Two drives later, a trip into the red zone ended without points when a blocked field goal was negated by an offside penalty and the resulting fourth-down attempt ended in a sack. The lost points suddenly mattered a great deal when the Titans scored two quick touchdowns and shrunk the lead to 19-14, but the Packers responded and dominated the finish of the game. It’s a credit to LaFleur’s team that they left points on the field early and still beat a likely playoff team by 26.
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Aaron Rodgers’ interception. What a rare sight it was, watching Rodgers go full Brett Favre in the fourth quarter. The result was Rodgers’ fifth interception of the season. He committed one of the quarterbacking sins, as Rodgers described it, throwing late over the middle of the field. The play was actually similar to Favre’s late interception against the New Orleans Saints in the 2009 NFC title game. Rodgers was rolling right and tried to throw back to Davante Adams in the middle of the field, allowing Malcolm Butler an opportunity to undercut the throw and make the diving pick. The interception was inconsequential, but it’s certainly a play Rodgers would like to have back. He now has 44 touchdown passes and five interceptions in 15 games.