If you asked Green Bay Packers fans about their chances against the then 6-2 Dallas Cowboys, at -4.5 underdogs at home in Lambeau Field, many would have been pessimistic about the Packers chances.
Fast-forward to the end of the game, however, there was a sense of relief and jubilation throughout the Frozen Tundra, with Green Bay earning a 31-28 win, thanks to a Mason Crosby field goal.
What pleased many Cheeseheads out there was the way the Packers were able to stop the slide of five consecutive losses, looking like the team many were expecting at the beginning of the season, with a balance in offensive play calling between the pass and the run heavily used.
With the game plan brilliantly executed by Matt LaFleur and his coaching staff, it has rejuvenated the team, the coaches and the fans, with a sense of belief floating around Wisconsin that the playoffs are not far away.
Committing to running the ball
Packers fans have been calling for the ball to be handed to both running backs, with the Packers possessing one of the league’s best dual threats at the running back position with Jones and Dillon in the backfield.
They got their wish against the Cowboys, with 62% of their offensive play calls being runs.
Dallas was vulnerable to the run coming into the game, fourth highest in the league in rushing yards allowed per game, totaling 143.1 yards per game.
Green Bay made use of this, with Jones having 24 attempts at rushing the ball against America’s Team, a season-high so far for him, along with 13 carries for Dillon, the third most he has garnered this season.
Both playmakers were able to cause problems all day with these opportunities, with Jones punching the ball in for only his second touchdown this season, with 138-yards rushing at 5.8 yards per attempt.
Dillon was able to impact the run game late on with a total of 13 carries for 65 yards, averaging 5.0 yards a carry.
The performance of both running backs and the touches they got will only excite Packers fans for what the offense can bring to the table as the season continues, with LaFleur reverting to schemes that fit and thrive with this offense.
Last week I wrote about how Matt LaFleur could see his time running out, as the offense was stalling, as was his play calling throughout the nine games before Sunday.
He turned that around with a brilliantly schemed game, proving why he is one of the best coaches in this league, with 355 yards of offense (86%) out of 415 in total coming from running the football along with play-action passes.
The utilization of play-action passes on Sunday was refreshing to see, as it has been lacking from the offense this season, with Rodgers’ lack of deep-threat throws.
That changed on Sunday, with the play-action allowed Christian Watson to have a breakout game for Green Bay, with the second-round draft pick this year scoring three touchdowns on the day, all coming from play-action passes.
The play-action also allowed Watson to use his greatest attribute, his speed, to superb effect, allowing him to get the separation needed to impact the game, cashing in for 107 yards on the day, along with his three touchdowns.