The Green Bay Packers were opening up at home for the 2014 season, coming off a deflating loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The Jets were on the road for the first time, having just defeated the Oakland Raiders last Sunday in the Meadowlands. Both teams have strengths where the other team has weaknesses, if merged together they would definitely be a complete team, but at the same time, this was going to be a strange and excellent game. It turned out that way with the Packers winning 31-24 on Sunday.
The Green Bay Packers started the game with the ball, but not for very long. Aaron Rodgers fumbled the ball on the first play from scrimmage and it was recovered by Jets star defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. On a crucial third and eleven, Geno Smith was able to hit Jeremy Kerley for a 13 yard gain to get the ball four yards from the end zone. Smith took the ball into the end zone himself to take an early Jet lead on a one yard rush. Nick Folk did just fine and nailed the extra point.
The Packers would only gain one first down on their next drive, a thirteen yard completion to Jordy Nelson. But Quinton Coples sacked Aaron Rodgers on the next play, with Demario Davis joining him with a sack on third and fourteen. Tim Masthay would punt the ball over to the Jets and they would start the next series at their own sixteen yard line. The Jets used some no huddle action themselves, and on third and one from their 25 yard line, Smith had gained the first down and lateralled the ball to Jeremy Kerley who ran an additional 37 yards to the Green Bay Packer 36 yard line. Then on another third down, Geno Smith found Eric Decker in the end zone for a 29 yard touchdown reception. Then, it was just crazy because the Jets had jumped out to a 14 point lead before the Packers had gained more than one first down on offense.
The Packers did get the ball back and on their next possession and they chose to run the no huddle offense as well. There was only one called run as Aaron Rodgers was hitting his targets on the outside and went from the Green Bay 20 all the way down to the Jets 13 yard line before Mason Crosby would hit a 31 yard field goal.
The Jets were not done with their offense though, as they went no huddle again in the first quarter and into the second quarter on a punishing 17 play drive that went from the Jets 20 yard line and into the end zone on a Chris Ivory 4 yard rush. They ran 8 minutes and 28 seconds off of the game clock on a drive in the no huddle. The Packers defense was getting gassed at this point and the Packers offense was coming back out onto the field.
The Packers were going to stick with what was working though, as they continued the no huddle offense and were able to drive down into the Jets red zone again. After a Jets timeout, Aaron Rodgers scrambled on a third and ten from the Jets 16 to pick up the first down on a 11 yard rush. This is an excellent sign for the Packers since Rodgers looked rather tentative to use his legs to take off and run in the previous game against the Seattle Seahawks last week. The Packers would have two incompletions and an Eddie Lacy 3 yard rush to set up a short Mason Crosby field goal from 20 yards out to put the Packers down 15. This seemed like a really big missed opportunity, but it was the second quarter and there was a lot of football to be played. But when the Jets are getting the ball down the field as effectively as if they were the Oregon Ducks, it definitely feels wrong to settle for field goals.
The Packers were fortunate to get a three and out on defense on the Jets next drive. Chris Johnson had rushed for 8 yards on first down, and then Geno Smith threw to Johnson for no gain and incomplete to Jeremy Kerley to punt the ball away to the Packers. This was huge for the defense since they had not gotten off the field without giving up points yet in the game.
The Packers would only pick up one first down on this drive, another completion to Jordy Nelson, which got the Packers into field goal range. Mason Crosby hit a 55 yard field goal to at least cut another possession off of the Jets lead. The Packers were down 12 points at 21-9. It looked like this could be the halftime score for quite some time, but the Jets were driving. After the two-minute warning, Geno Smith threw his first pick of the game, trying to get it near the end zone to Zach Sudfeld. But Tramon Williams made the crucial interception at the three yard line. The Packers would take the ball at the 3 yard line.
The Packers worked the ball slowly up the field, with Rodgers hitting some different targets in Andrew Quarless and Davante Adams, before Rodgers would hit the all so usual target in Randall Cobb for the Packers first touchdown of the game. There was only 8 seconds left in the half when Mason Crosby tacked on the PAT. The Packers were going into halftime down just 5 points (21-16) after being down 18 just a little bit earlier.
The Packers and Jets defenses both came out fresher to start the second half and got some use for both off their punters in Tim Masthay and Ryan Quigley. But then the Packers offense got their act together as Jordy Nelson would get 44 yards receiving on the 67 yard drive. Rodgers would hit Cobb for a one yard completion before finding him again on a 2 point conversion. Then there was a fight in the end zone, probably because the Jets defense was frustrated after blowing an 18 point lead. This is a Rex Ryan defense and they are proud of what they are able to do on the field. Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson ended up punching Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari in the face and was ejected from the game and a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was enforced on the kickoff. The Packers finally held the lead in the game, up 24-21.
Nick Folk ended up hitting a 52 yard field goal on the Jets next drive, which was highlighted by a Bilal Powell 20 yard rush. This would tie the game up at 24 a piece, but on the next drive, the Packers only used one play where they would hit Jordy Nelson for a 80 yard passing touchdown. The Packers were up 31-24 after this play.
The Jets had one more drive that needs to be highlighted. It started with 9:23 left in the fourth quarter. This drive started to get the Jets into bizarre world. Clay Matthews sacked Michael Vick on a no huddle play, because Vick was randomly inserted into the game. Then the Jets had the ball on fourth and four at the Green Bay Packers 36 yard line. It went from the bizarre to the twilight zone. Everybody knows that only head coaches can call timeout from the sideline, but Marty Mornhinweg, the Jets offensive coordinator, was trying to get Rex Ryan's attention before the snap to call timeout. Rex never actually called the timeout himself, but Mornhinweg was able to get the attention of the referee standing directly in front of Ryan and the timeout was called, which was the Jets final timeout. The play that happened on the field was a game-tying touchdown to Jeremy Kerley in the end zone, but instead the timeout was counted and the Jets would convert the fourth down by hitting David Nelson for a 6 yard reception. That was the final first down the Jets would convert. While they ended up giving up the ball to the Packers with 3:31 left, Aaron Rodgers would hit Jordy Nelson again for a 15 yard reception on third down and then it was a couple of kneel downs from the victory formation.
Just a couple of key notes from the game. Aaron Rodgers passed Bart Starr to move into second place on the Packers all time passing yards list. Jordy Nelson went over 200 receiving yards, which is the first time a Packer went over 200 receiving yards since Don Beebe back in 1996. The Packers and Jets both had their leading rushers only get 43 yards rushing, with Eddie Lacy and Chris Ivory doing so, respectively. Rookie wide receiver Davante Adams was second in receiving yards for the Packers, having 5 catches for 50 yards. Morgan Burnett had the most tackles of any player in the game with 11.
The Green Bay Packers (1-1) will go on the road next to play the Detroit Lions (1-1) at Ford Field. The New York Jets (1-1) will go to host the Chicago Bears (0-1) next week on Monday Night Football. Both teams will be looking for their second win to continue a push for the playoffs.