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Green Bay strikes back as the Packers re-find their form

In true NFC East fashion, the Washington Redskins lost a pivotal game just when they had some momentum. Only this time, they couldn’t lean


In true NFC East fashion, the Washington Redskins lost a pivotal game just when they had some momentum. Only this time, they couldn’t lean on a poor division to bail them out. After I predicted that the Redskins could beat Green Bay and prove themselves as the most dangerous team in the NFC playoffs, they lost 35-18 at home to the Packers. Washington jumped out to an early 11-0 lead thanks to a safety in the opening quarter as Preston Smith sacked Aaron Rodgers in the endzone, adding a field goal in the first quarter before Jordan Reed caught a touchdown pass in the second. Washington missed the extra point. The Packers responded with a no-huddle drive to get a touchdown pass to Randall Cobb; the start of 17 unanswered points. Mason Crosby’s field goal and a touchdown catch by Davante Adams put the Packers up 17-11 at the half. Washington fought back early in the third, using double teams on Jordan Reed to allow Kirk Cousins to walk into the endzone for a touchdown and an 18-17 lead. But the Packers then scored another 17 unanswered points thanks to touchdown runs from James Starks and Eddie Lacy as well as a second Crosby field goal. After a slow start, Green Bay’s offense suddenly looked like the unit we expected to see after last season. While Aaron Rodgers didn’t have a mind-blowing box score (21/36, 210 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions) the Packers managed to put up over 30 points for the first time since Week 1. So how did they do it? Green Bay’s offense was more balanced, featuring more two-back and “heavy” sets; where the running back is joined by a full-back. This kept the Redskins off guard with two or three potential runners on the field. Both Eddie Lacy and James Starks rushed for touchdowns as the Packers racked up 141 rushing yards on 32 carries. Green Bay were more committed to the ground game, using Lacy on fourth-and-1 and converting. Rodgers and Mike McCarthy kept Washington’s defense off balance by running a no-huddle offense alongside the heavier run game. On a drive that ended with a Randall Cobb touchdown, the Packers forced two 12-men on the field penalties out of the Redskins thanks to the no-huddle. Green Bay’s pace made it difficult for the Redskins to substitute their defensive linemen, keeping fresh pass rushers off the field. The Packers also pressured Kirk Cousins all day, sacking him six times. The defense kept Green Bay in the game when the Redskins were leading, forcing two fumbles. They also managed to stop the run game from taking pressure off of Cousins. The Redskins could manage just 84 total rushing yards. Credit to Cousins though. He didn’t throw an interception despite being in his first NFL playoff game. Cousins threw for 329 yards, but couldn’t overcome Green Bay. The Redskins head home with some hope for next season. They have a decent quarterback who can keep them competitive until they find a true franchise player, meaning that they can use the draft and free agency to focus on other areas that need improvement. Green Bay now heads to Arizona this week to play the Cardinals in the divisional round. Last time they met in Week 16, the Packers were completely outclassed in a 38-8 bloodbath. It will be interesting to see if the formula McCarthy used against Washington will work in Glendale.

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Green Bay strikes back as the Packers re-find their form

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