Big D: Packers finding new ways to win

FOX Football Insider
FOX FOOTBALL INSIDER

Green Bay – In the waning minutes of the Packers’ 17-0 win over Seattle Sunday, AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones sat along on the running backs’ section of the Green Bay bench.

The Packers running back version of “Thunder and Lightning” shared a laugh and talked while the Green Bay defense, dominant all game, stopped Russell Wilson and the Seahawk offense for a final time.

Jones went out with a knee injury in the second half that sent shivers down the spines of Green Bay fans, but it’s been reported to be just a mild MCL sprain instead of a more serious injury.

Dillon was the workhorse in the contest.  Twenty-one carries for 66 yards, including two short touchdown runs.  Two receptions for 62 more.  The second-year back stepped up and carried the bulk of the offensive load, accounting for 128 total yards in a game the offense struggled as Aaron Rodgers scraped off the rust and Aaron Jones departed with a knee injury.

It bodes well for Green Bay as winter approaches to see the 6-foot, 247-pound bruiser bull his way through the Seattle defense in the falling snow, especially on his 3- and 2-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to ice the contest.  And his highlight-reel 50-yard catch-and-run on the final TD drive showcased his elusiveness in the open field.

In the past 17 years, Rodgers and the Packers’ offense has garnered the lion’s share of the attention and accolades, but in recent weeks the Green Bay defense has commanded attention with its physical style, aggressiveness, and ability to create turnovers.

Joe Barry’s unit completed a remarkable stretch against three of the NFL’s top mobile quarterbacks, shutting out Seattle Sunday for the first time since 2011 and Russell Wilson for the first time in 149 career starts.  Wilson obviously struggled with accuracy and timing in his return from his finger surgery and the Packers made him pay with end-zone interceptions by Kevin King and Adrian Amos.  Consistent pressure limited Seattle to just 133 net yards passing, 75 net yards rushing, and just 208 total net yards.

“We’re making a statement,” linebacker Krys Barnes said.  “I think the defense is playing at an elite level.”

The Packers haven’t allowed a point in the last six quarters—a feat not accomplished since their 2010 Super Bowl season.  Green Bay has surrendered 17 or fewer points in seven straight home games (regular season) dating back to last season.  The Packers are third in the NFL in yards allowed per play (5.1), yards allowed per game (309)), and points allowed per game (18).  A huge improvement from this time last season.

The injury bug continues to bite the Packers.  The defense lost the services of linebacker Whitney Mercilus to a bicep injury and he was placed on injured reserve this afternoon.  Linebacker Rashan Gary (elbow) is expected to play Sunday against Minnesota at US Bank Stadium

That NFC North contest will be televised exclusively in Western Wisconsin by FOX 25/48 at 12 noon Sunday.  Green Bay (8-2) will attempt to extend their 3.5-game lead in the NFC North over the second-place Vikings.

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