Upon Further Review: Packers grind out win over Giants

Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews celebrates a sack of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

Mike Roemer/AP

The Green Bay Packers’ offense dominated the first quarter of the team’s 23-16 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night.

Packers 23, Giants 16

The Green Bay defense, however, played arguably the bigger role in the win.

The Packers defense limited the Giants to 219 yards and did not allow a touchdown for nearly 57 minutes, helping the team improve to 3-1 on the season.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning was 18-of-35 passing for 199 yards, was sacked three times and fumbled once. He and the Giants totaled just 93 yards in the first half, as Green Bay built a 17-6 lead.

Here’s a recap of Sunday’s game:

SUNDAY SCHOOL

— The game started about as well as it could have for the Packers’ offense, as they drove 75 yards on 16 plays and capped it with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson. Rodgers was 5-of-8 passing for 41 yards and the touchdown on the drive and also scrambled for a first down on a third-and-10, after great protection by the offensive line.

— The offense marched back down the field after a Giants punt, with Eddie Lacy starting the drive with runs of 12 and 11 yards. The unit had a 21-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb nullified because of an illegal shift penalty. Nelson dropped a Rodgers’ pass on the next play, which the Giants intercepted on the deflection. Green Bay finished the quarter with 10 first downs compared to one for the Giants and a 13:03-1:57 edge in time of possession.

— Green Bay’s offense was considerably quieter in the second quarter, with two drives ending in a punt and another ending with Rodgers’ second interception. The team did add a second touchdown, however, thanks in part to a 31-yard run by Lacy, on which he broke free after being hit at the line of scrimmage. Rodgers found Davante Adams in stride four plays later for a 29-yard touchdown to make the score 14-3. The Packers added a 44-yard field goal as the half expired to make the score 17-6.

— Green Bay’s offense was especially quiet in the third quarter, going three-and-out on its first two drives. The Giants drove into the red zone midway through the quarter, but got no further than the Packers 11-yard line before hitting a field goal, making the score 17-9.

— Green Bay increased its lead to 11 early in the fourth quarter with a 33-yard field goal. It forced a Giants punt on the next possessions and subsequently drove 73 yards on 13 plays, taking 6:22 off the clock to make the score 23-9 after another field goal.

— The Giants scored their lone touchdown on their next possession, with Eli Manning throwing an eight-yard touchdown pass to Odell Beckham Jr. But Green Bay sealed the win on its next possession, with Rodgers hitting Cobb for a 13-yard pass on third-and-10.

PHOTOS: Packers vs. Giants

DULY NOTED

— Rodgers targeted Nelson a team-high 13 times, completing four passes to him for 38 yards and a touchdown. He targeted Cobb 11 times, completing nine passes to him for 108 yards. He finished the game 23 for 45 passing for 259 yards and a passer rating of 65.0. His 45 pass attempts were his most in his past 11 regular-season games.

— Lacy finished with 11 carries for 81 yards, an average of 7.4 yards per carry. The Packers ran for 147 yards on 32 carries (4.6 yards per carry), a sign that the offensive line was generating a push up front. The unit also did not allow a sack.

— Green Bay converted on nine of its 19 third-down opportunities but was just 1 for 3 in the red zone.

— Rookie linebacker Kyler Fackrell forced a fumble that rookie lineman Kenny Clark recovered, leading to the Packers’ field goal at the end of the first half. Nick Perry and Clay Matthews also recorded a sack for the Packers.

— The defense limited Manning to 199 yards, despite being without cornerbacks Damarious Randall and Sam Shields. Quinten Rollins, LaDarius Gunter, Micah Hyde and Josh Hawkins played larger roles with them out.

WHAT IT MEANT

— Green Bay can win games when the offense isn’t perfect, thanks to a strong defense that’s especially stout against the run. Also, the team has a physical offensive line that can create holes in the running game and protect Rodgers.

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PLAYER OF THE GAME

Not a player, necessarily, but the Packers offensive line. The unit allowed the Packers to run the ball effectively and kept Rodgers upright the whole game.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME

You never really forget about him, but Rodgers executed throughout the night for the Packers, especially in the first half. He did not let the early interceptions phase him and made a beautiful throw to Adams for the second touchdown.

THAT MOMENT

Rodgers hit Cobb for a short pass across the middle on a third-and-9 early in the fourth quarter from the Packers 21-yard line. Cobb had six Giants defensive players converging on him but spun out of two tackles and went for a 17-yard gain. The Packers went on to complete a 13-play, 73-yard drive that ended with a Mason Crosby field goal. 

THIS NUMBER

36:38 — The Packers’ time of possession, including drives of 8:42, 6:22, 4:46 and 4:21. This was the first game of the year in which the Packers won the time of possession battle.

THEY SAID IT

"Defense, particularly our young guys in the secondary, did a heck of a job. Run defense was there, pass rush was there. We were able to play good red zone defense." — Packers coach Mike McCarthy

"We feel good about the yardage and the third-down percentage, but we’d like to score a few more points there to help our defense out when they’re playing so well." — Rodgers

WHAT’S NEXT

The Packers host the Cowboys (4-1), who have won four straight since losing to the Giants to start the season.