Kevin Seifert had the following headline on his ESPN NFC North Blog post following the Packers 24-20 win over the Lions on Sunday: “Packers: Substance of 2012 > Style of 2011.”
Kevin went on to write how the Packers grind-it-out victories over the last five weeks might be more impressive and have them better prepared for the postseason than the string of blowout wins they had en route to a 15-1 finish in 2011.
For the record, I agree with Kevin. His post was spot-on. I just didn’t care for the headline.
The Packers had plenty of substance in 2011. You don’t go 15-1 on style alone.
And the Packers have had plenty of style so far in 2012. It’s just a different style than what we saw last season.
To casual football fans, style means long passes, beautiful catches, ankle-breaking runs and exciting punt/kick returns. Those are the plays that make Sports Center and go viral on the Internet.
The more hardcore football fans appreciate those types of plays as well, but also find plenty of style in other areas of the game.
To me, this third-and-goal play from Sunday highlights the type of style that hardcore fans appreciate and the type of stylish play that the Packers have been coming up with over the last five games.
A touchdown there gives the Lions a 7-0 lead and the Packers young and beat-up defense probably hangs its head a bit. Who knows where the game goes from there.
Instead, Ryan Pickett — who is in there in case the Lions run it — busts through the line and chases Matthew Stafford right to Morgan Burnett for the sack.
The defense holds the Lions to a field goal and the defense’s confidence goes way up. That’s style, in my opinion.
Here’s another one:
Tim Masthay is punting from midfield in the first quarter and drops a perfect corner kick that gets downed by Jarrett Bush on the Lions’ 2.
Now, that seems like a simple enough play, right? Three years ago, that ball probably flys into the end zone and the Lions would get the ball at the 20. Not this year.
Masthay hit a perfect punt, and instead of tripping over his own feet as the ball bounced past him for a touchback, Bush positions himself like a baseball infielder, keeps his balance, and maintains his level of awareness to not step into the end zone or out of bounds.
It’s a lot harder than it looks. How many times do you see guys flub punts like that, resulting in a touchback? Fairly often. It takes style to make that play.
The Packers defense forced a three-and-out and got the ball back in Detroit territory. The Packers failed to score on that drive, but they’ll score more often than not with field position like that.
Yes, Packers games haven’t exactly been works of art this season, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have style.
I’d say 7-3 and first place in the NFC North looks quite beautiful, actually.——————