Upon Further Review: Packers vs. Texans

Houston Texans' Brock Osweiler tries to throw while being hit by Green Bay Packers' Jake Ryan (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Mike Roemer/AP

Win pretty or win ugly, it doesn’t matter at this point to the Green Bay Packers.

On a snowy day at Lambeau Field, it was more of the latter as the Packers topped the Houston Texans, 21-13, to win their second straight game and keep alive their quest for a playoff spot.

Packers 21, Texans 13

Here’s a recap of Sunday’s game:


— The weather conditions made for a slippery field, and that helped the Packers out. When Green Bay took a 14-7 lead on an Aaron Rodgers 32-yard pass to Jordy Nelson, the Packers wide receiver was wide open in the end zone. At first, it might have appeared as though the cold froze the brains of Houston’s secondary, but what actually happened was cornerback Charles James slipped on the wet turf, freeing up Nelson as a safety was way too late getting over.

— Rodgers was listed as questionable with a hamstring injury coming into the game and started limping in the second half. Nevertheless, he still rushed three times for 16 yards and moved well out of the pocket, including on Green Bay’s first touchdown, a 9-yard pass to Randall Cobb, which was vintage Rodgers — getting out of trouble and throwing on the run.

— Give a heads up award to cornerback Quinten Rollins. In the first quarter, Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler took off running on third-and-6 and got a first down. Osweiler did a head-first slide — by rule, he could quickly pop up and keep on running (only with the feet-first slide is it an automatic down). Rollins smartly ran over and touched Osweiler to make sure such a scenario did not occur.

— Both teams tried to go for it on fourth-and-short in the first half. Houston’s needed one yard from the Green Bay 49 but it was stuffed by Datone Jones and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Green Bay had run three straight times with Christine Michael and made it four in a row as the running back got a first on fourth-and-2 from the Houston 42, gaining 5 yards.

— Houston went for it again on fourth-and-1 in the third quarter from the Green Bay 6. Osweiler rolled right and might have wanted to throw short to DeAndre Hopkins, but Green Bay had four players in the area on the wide receiver. Instead, Osweiler threw to the back corner of the end zone where Griffin had eluded Rollins for a touchdown.

— Ironically, Green Bay also had another fourth-and-2 and like Houston, the opposite happened from its first try. In the third quarter from the Houston 49, Aaron Ripkowski couldn’t move the pile far enough and was stopped short. However, the Packers and the fullback got a little revenge in the fourth quarter when Ripkowski scored a 3-yard touchdown, this time the pile moving players from both sides into the end zone.

— Certainly this was not planned, but Houston had to call a timeout with Green Bay at the Texans’ 2-yard line in the first quarter due to having only 10 men on the field. On the next play, Aaron Rodgers fumbled the snap.


— Julius Peppers had one of his best, if not the best, game of the season. Pepper recorded five tackles and a sack. The sack came at a key moment late in the first half. Houston drove from its 11 to its 41 with 56 seconds left as it looked to get on the scoreboard. But on a second-and-1, Osweiler looked to run only to have Pepper burst through the line and chase him backwards for a 10-yard loss. The Texans just ran out the clock to finish out the quarter.

— Green Bay had failed on seven straight third-down plays until late in the third quarter when the Packers hit on two straight: Ty Montgomery ran for 13 on third-and-1 and Rodgers found a sliding Jared Cook for 10 yards on third-and-8. That drive would culminate in the Rodgers-to-Nelson TD.

— Let’s talk about Houston’s final play, the razzle-dazzle constant laterals which never works. OK, I guess it worked for Cal vs. Stanford which is why teams still attempt it, but seriously, there has to be a better play, right? These things always end up going backwards, with a team fumbling and/or being called for a forward pass.


— After his touchdown catch, Randall Cobb did a snow angel in the end zone with no repercussion. In Chicago, a San Francisco player did the same thing (although the TD was eventually nullified) and drew a penalty. Ladies and gentlemen, the NFL.

— Late in the game, it was Montgomery in the backfield for Green Bay, not Christine Michael, who had 9 carries for 19 yards, or James Starks, who gained just 1 yard on 4 rushes. Montgomery would finish with a team-high 40 yards on six carries.

— On the first quarter fumble by Houston’s Ryan Griffin, the tight end got hit high and low by Rollins and Ladarius Gunter, with Gunter dislodging the ball. Morgan Burnett was Johnny-on-the-spot with the recovery.

— Rookie Dean Lowry recorded his first career sack and also knocked down a pass.

— Houston had the ball for 11:15 of the first quarter and didn’t score.

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— Each team had just one play of 30 yards or more and they both went for touchdowns.

— Rodgers has won 14 consecutive home games in December. Only Tom Brady (19 from 2002-12) owns a longer streak.

— Peppers now has 142.5 sacks, passing Michael Strahan for fifth place in NFL history (note: sacks were not an official statistic until 1982).


As we head into the final quarter of the season, the Packers still remain in the hunt for a playoff spot. Now 6-6, Green Bay is two games behind division leader Detroit. The teams meet again in the regular-season finale and the Packers won the previous meeting, meaning if they win again and finish in a tie, Green Bay would win the division (provided Minnesota doesn’t sneak in there and create a three-way tie or win outright). The Packers are also in line for a possible wild-card spot where a number of teams are bunched up, including New York (8-4), Atlanta (7-5), Tampa Bay (7-5), Washington (6-5-1) and the Vikings (6-6). Either the Falcons or Bucs will likely win the NFC South, so only one of those two will be a wild-card competitor. Either way, the Packers’ postseason chances are very much alive. They just need to keep winning.


Jordy Nelson had eight receptions on 10 targets — six more targets than anyone else on the Packers — for 118 yards with one touchdown, which put Green Bay up for good. It was just his third 100-yard receiving game of the season. Nelson had a knack for big plays in this one, with (not counting the TD) three first-down catches, including one which we detail below.


Does any team get more out of their safeties than the Packers? Morgan Burnett had a team-high nine tackles, a quarterback hurry, pass defensed and fumble recovery while Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had seven tackles (second most on Green Bay) and helped blow up a fourth-down attempt in the first quarter.


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With Green Bay up 14-7 in the fourth quarter, the Packers had a third-and-6 from the 50. Rodgers lofted a pass down the field and Nelson went up for it and, despite the effort of Houston’s Kareem Jackson, who got his arm in between Nelson’s arms, brought down the ball for a 28-yard gain. Two plays later, the Packers scored to make it 21-7. Without that catch, the Packers would have had to punt and had to defend while holding just a one-score lead.


109 — Rushing yards for the Packers. This was just the sixth time this year Green Bay eclipsed the 100-yard mark as a team and broke a three-game streak in which the Packers had under 100 yards rushing. The 109 yards also, amazingly, is the fourth-highest total of the season.


"Well, that was a good bad-weather win. A lot of fun to play in that type of atmosphere in Lambeau Field." — Head coach Mike McCarthy

"I was sliding and I couldn’t get up as fast as I wanted to, so I was like, why not?" — Wide receiver Randall Cobb on his snow angel celebration.

"We’re tired of being close, we really are as a team. We’re all able to see it on the film every single week that we’re so close to turning that corner. And if you’re tired of seeing it, we’re tired of living it." — Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler


Green Bay hosts Seattle (8-3-1) on Sunday at 3:25 p.m. The Seahawks are coming off a 40-7 pounding of Carolina and appear to have the NFC West sewn up, but are fighting for a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Dave Heller is the author of the upcoming book Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow as well as Facing Ted Williams Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns