A 9-0 final score may not look pretty and it may not seem exciting but on this week, in this season, the Packers win over the New York Jets was one to savor. Indeed, fist bumps should be all around (as a side note, I've never seen "Jersey Shore" and never will but I do know the fist bump has been around for years and wasn't invented on MTV. Get over yourselves, kids). On a day when the Packers couldn't do anything offensively you need defense and special teams to come through.
Prior to last week's win over Minnesota the jury was out on the defense. With all the injuries will they wear down in the second half, especially against a run-heavy team like the New York Jets? If Clay Matthews is accounted for will the Packers have any kind of pass rush? Well two weeks running now the Packers defense has answered every challenge. This defensive effort was especially satisfying on two fronts. First, any time you can get a shut out that's huge, even more so on the road. Second, we know every team has injuries and the difference between playoff and non-playoff teams is depth. Desmond Bishop was the leading tackler with ten. Brandon Chillar added a sack. Tramon Williams forced a fumble and had an interception. Frank Zombo continues to take advantage of playing time with a forced fumble. Over the course of 16 games you need your backups to make plays and they made them today. I'm not calling the division just yet but injuries will no longer be a problem if the Packers continue to get these types of plays from guys that have been thrust into starting roles.
Finally we saw a solid special teams effort. Punter Tim Masthay was under siege and rightfully so after one poor performance after another. But today when field position was so important Masthay came through with a 44 yard average and placed five punts inside the 20. With the exception of Brad Smith's second half kickoff return the coverage was good and as usual it goes hand-in-hand with solid directional punting. Yes, Mason Crosby missed what might have been a crucial field goal late in the first half but ultimately he redeemed himself with two kicks in the second half.
The Packers proved they can win without Aaron Rodgers while being shorthanded on defense. At the halfway mark the Packers are 5-3 and a half game up on the Bears with plenty of football left. With each week the Packers are getting more and more contributions from the backups. Now if the Packers can get this kind of defensive and special teams effort every week to go along with a good day from Rodgers the top of the NFC North is there for the taking.