Packers vs. Giants: Takeaways from Green Bay's 27-13 Loss to New York
The Green Bay Packers weren't able to end their recent slide against the New York Giants on Sunday. While the game was close for most of the afternoon, the Packers ultimately fell by a score of 27-13 in New York.
It wasn't a great game from either the offense or defense this week. While the defense did finally get a turnover via an interception from Tramon Williams, quarterback Scott Tolzien threw three picks of his own to negate the good play from Williams. The defense also gave up a whopping 334 yards of total offense.
Overall, the Packers struggled to make enough plays on either side of the ball this week.
Here are some other takeaways from Green Bay's 27-13 loss to New York.
*All stats via NFL.com.
The Packers Can't Rely on Scott Tolzien to Win Games by Himself
There is no denying that Scott Tolzien is the best option at quarterback while Aaron Rodgers is out. Unfortunately, Tolzien showed today that he's incapable of winning games by himself.
While Rodgers has the individual talent to win games alone, Tolzien isn't even close. Though he played well for most of the game, he was unable to make big plays when the Green Bay Packers needed him to. He finished the game with a respectable 339 passing yards, but he didn't throw a single touchdown compared to three interceptions.
Tolzien talked about his interceptions, via Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, after the game, saying, "That's on me... That's football 101. You have to take care of the ball."
Simply put, the Packers can't rely on Tolzien to win games alone for them. Every other unit for this team needs to play a fantastic game for Green Bay to win while Rodgers is out.
Where Did the Run Game Go?
You'd think that with quarterback Aaron Rodgers still on the sidelines, the Green Bay Packers would pound the ball on the ground with running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks.
However, the Packers didn't do that this week against the New York Giants.
Even though they were keeping the game close, Lacy only managed 27 yards on 14 carries. Starks added minus-one yard on two carries.
While the Giants defense has been good against the run in recent games, 14 carries isn't nearly enough for Lacy. He's shown in past weeks that he can easily handle 20-plus carries each week.
As we've said before, if the Packers want to win games without Rodgers, they're going to need big games from their ground game. That didn't happen today, and it resulted in a loss.
Don't Discount Jordy Nelson
You can say what you want about the other top wide receivers in the league, but if Jordy Nelson isn't in the conversation for the top five receivers, then you have some problems.
Even with a third-string quarterback throwing him the ball, Nelson managed to grab a game-high eight receptions and 117 yards. Nelson made a number of big receptions, including a fantastic catch with outstretched arms in the first quarter.
While Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson is certainly the best in the game, it'd be hard right now to find another receiver as complete as Nelson.
As long as whoever is at quarterback for Green Bay continues to get him the ball, the Packers will continue to get big plays on offense.
The Best Rookie This Week Was Datone Jones
There is no doubt that running back Eddie Lacy has been the top rookie for the Green Bay Packers this year.
However, rookie defensive end Datone Jones has made the most noise for the Packers the past two weeks.
After recording two sacks last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, Jones was once again wreaking havoc on quarterback Eli Manning this week. While he didn't finish the game with a tackle or a sack, he was still instrumental in a number of quarterback hurries and the sack by outside linebacker Clay Matthews.
Jones was originally looking like a bust for the first half of the season, but he has come on strong in recent weeks. He's finally looking like the player that the Packers drafted in the first round, which is exactly what this struggling defense needs.
Another Tough Game for Clay Matthews
Outside linebacker Clay Matthews finished Sunday's game against the New York Giants with four total tackles and a sack.
However, three of his tackles were assisted tackles and his sack probably should have been credited to defensive end Datone Jones.
Matthews simply hasn't been able to make much of a positive impact since returning from his broken thumb. Sure, he's still learning to play with a cast on his hand, but Matthews needs to play better.
He needs to be better in coverage, where he was beaten a number of times, as well as in getting pressure on the quarterback and slowing down the run. There's no doubt that Matthews can be a game-changing player on defense, but he just isn't playing well right now.
Tramon Williams Bounces Back in a Huge Way
Earlier in the week, we asked what was going on with cornerback Tramon Williams. Well, it seems he heard the grumbles against his play this year and answered with his best game of the season.
Williams finished Sunday's game with eight solo tackles. Most of those tackles were open-field tackles that stopped the New York Giants offense from making a big play.
Williams also recorded his first interception of the season.
This performance finally looked like the Williams of old. This is great news for the Green Bay Packers, who desperately need playmakers in the secondary. If Williams can continue to play at such a high level, there may still be a chance for the Packers defense this year.
The Rest of the Secondary Continues to Struggle
While cornerback Tramon Williams was great, the rest of the secondary for the Green Bay Packers struggled again this week.
Quarterback Eli Manning finished the game with 279 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception for the New York Giants. Manning had the biggest success down the middle of the field, where the Packers safeties and linebackers simply couldn't cover their men.
Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel touched on the struggles of the secondary in his postgame article. Dunne specifically pointed to the secondaries issues with stopping Giants receiver Victor Cruz as a big issue this week, saying, "Cruz toyed with the secondary."
The downfall of the Packers secondary couldn't come at a worse time. Green Bay needs every unit on its roster to play perfect football until quarterback Aaron Rodgers returns, but that simply hasn't happened.
While there are plenty of people to blame for this loss, the secondary is certainly worthy of a good chunk of that blame.
This Was a Tough Loss for the Packers
Going up against a 3-6 team like the New York Giants seemed like the perfect matchup for the slumping Green Bay Packers. They'd lost two games in a row, but they were still in position to be atop the NFC North with the Detroit Lions losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
However, mistakes on offense and the inability to get stops by the defense were the reasons that the Packers now sit at .500 on the season. They're still only a game out of first place in the division, but this was a winnable game that Green Bay simply couldn't win.
With back-to-back games against division foes, the Packers still have a chance to win the NFC North. However, they'll need to play much better than they did on Sunday for that to happen.