Game Balls and Lame Calls: Packers 31, Browns 13 All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Packers receiver Jarrett Boykin enjoyed his first career Lambeau Leap following his fourth-quarter touchdown against the Browns.
Packers receiver Jarrett Boykin enjoyed his first career Lambeau Leap following his fourth-quarter touchdown against the Browns.

Already shorthanded on defense the previous week against the Ravens, the Green Bay Packers offense joined the club, heading into their matchup with the Cleveland Browns severely undermanned.

But despite being without receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones, quarterback Aaron Rodgers led the Packers offense up and down the field, scoring 31 points against a solid Browns defense. For Rodgers, it may have been his best performance of the season despite throwing for a modest (by his standards) 260 yards.

Unfortunately for the Packers, the injury bug continued to hang around the team Sunday, as tight end Jermichael Finley suffered a neck injury on a vicious head to the head from Browns safety Tashaun Gipson. Finley was loaded onto a stretcher and taken off the field, although he did show movement in his extremities.

Of course, just a few years after former Packers safety Nick Collins’ career was cut short by a neck injury, many will fear the worst any time a Packers suffers an injury to his head or neck. I’m not a doctor and don’t pretend to assume to know the extent of Finley’s injury, but it certainly looked bad. Originally, I assumed Finley had suffered only(?) another concussion, which would have been his second of the season, but it’s pretty clear that’s not the case.

This is a neck injury, and it’s anyone’s guess as to when he’ll return to the field. If at all.

He stayed in intensive care overnight at the hospital, but according to Mike Garafolo’s official Twitter account, Finley was up and walking as of Monday morning. Walking is a good first step for Finley, but football continues to be an afterthought in the grand scheme of his serious injury.

On the bright side, it was another dominating performance by Dom Capers and the Packers defense.

Sam Shields, once again, shut down the opponent’s No. 1 receiver, Davon House stepped up and picked up a pass on fourth down and A.J. Hawk continues to look like the All-American he was at Ohio State University. Shields, specifically, is deserving of a great deal of credit for his job on Browns receiver Josh Gordon.

After being suspended for the first two games of the season, Gordon had at least four catches and 71 receiving yards in each of the four games he played. Against Shields on Sunday, Gordon caught just two passes for 21 yards in garbage time.

As is always the case, there were plenty positives and negatives for the now-NFC North-leading Packers. But the cloud of Finley’s uncertain future lingers over an otherwise promising 31-13 home victory.

Game Balls

Aaron Rodgers

The guy is good. He’s really good when he’s throwing to Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley. But he’s pretty darn good when he’s throwing to Jarrett Boykin, Myles White and some guy named Dave, also. For many teams, it’s hard to imagine a guy like Boykin stepping in as the No. 2 receiver and going over 100 yards on the day. But playing with Rodgers, who will get the ball to the open guy, something like that becomes possible. Three touchdown passes and 260 yards isn’t great by Rodgers’ standards, but he was undoubtedly the most valuable player on the field Sunday.

Jarrett Boykin

Remember when the (winless) Jacksonville Jaguars cut Boykin before training camp even started last year? Yeah, well now that guy is the (4-2) Packers’ default No. 2 receiver. He’s certainly not the fastest receiver on the field, but Rodgers has called him “one of the smartest guys on the team,” and the quarterback and receiver were certainly on the same page Sunday after a disconnect last week in Baltimore. With Jordy Nelson blanketed by Browns cornerback Joe Haden, Boykin led the team with eight catches on a team-high ten targets. The Packers can’t afford to lose any more receivers than they already have, but it was undoubtedly an impressive showing from Boykin.

Sam Shields

Save for a Week 1 struggle (by the entire Packers secondary) against Anquan Boldin and a Week 2 garbage-time-stat-stuffer against Pierre Garcon, Shields has been one of the league’s top man-to-man shutdown corners of the 2013 season. He allowed a touchdown to A.J. Green in week three, but blanketed him throughout the afternoon and held one of the NFL’s best pass catchers to just four receptions. Coming into last week’s game at Baltimore, Torrey Smith was leading the AFC in receiving yards before Shields bottled him up to just one catch. And on Sunday, Browns athletic freak receiver Josh Gordon was shadowed by Shields for most the afternoon and only mustered up two catches for 21 yards. Shields is going to get paid handsomely this offseason, whether it’s by the Packers or another team. He may be priority No. 1 for the team this summer.

Jamari Lattimore

Lattimore gets the final game ball over Eddie Lacy simply because he missed out on a borderline game ball last week against the Ravens, whereas Lacy got the (biggest?) game ball. credited Lattimore for 12 tackles and a sack, but no matter how many tackles he’s had, it was easy to see No. 57 making plays all over the field for the second Sunday in a row. Right now, the linebackers are playing with a bunch of reserves, but Lattimore has filled Brad Jones’ shoes admirably and certainly looks capable of taking on a bigger role with the defense, if he’s called upon to do so.

Lame Calls

Special Teams coverage

The Packers dominated Sunday’s game in nearly every facet, with special teams being the lone exception. The Browns boast one of the league’s best specials teams units, as was on display with Travis Benjamin’s 86-yard kick return and Fozzy Whittaker’s 56-yard return. Overall, the Packers were outgained 189-45 on kick returns Sunday. But hey, they won the game easily. All is well.

The weather

It was ugly. Cold, rainy, just not pleasant. I’ve lived in Wisconsin my whole life, but something has happened to me within the past couple years. I simply can’t tolerate the cold the way I used to. The mere fact that I’m even talking about the temperature when it was a balmy 40-something degrees is downright embarrassing as a Wisconsinite.

Jermichael Finley’s health

This is the team’s biggest concern right now. And for good reason. Prior to the injury, Finley was clearly a big part of the team’s offensive game plan, catching five passes for 72 yards and a score. He’s shown an improved ability to break tackles and pick up yards after the catch this season, as he trucked his way to a first-quarter touchdown to score the game’s first points for the Packers. But when he went down Sunday, you could’ve heard a pin drop at Lambeau Field. It was scary, and he should be in your thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery. Here are a couple updates regarding Finley’s health:


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Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.


16 thoughts on “Game Balls and Lame Calls: Packers 31, Browns 13

  1. If this were August and you were to tell me that Jamari Lattimore and Jarrett Boykin got game balls for being the top tackler and top receiver in a game in week 7, I would not have understood.

    Our backups are stepping up far better than I think anyone expected.

    I would just hate to see more backups playing as it undoubtedly means one or more of our starters got injured, but injuries happen in this game and the coaching staff/scouts and TT deserve credit for having chosen some really good players to replace our injured starters.

    Lastly, like everyone here I hope First) Finley is not hurt too badly for his and his family’s sake and only Second) Comes back to play sometime this year if he is able.

  2. Sam Shields will get paid by the Packers. No need to worry about that…

    Lattimore is BALLIN! Right now IMO, he is better than Brad Jones and should stay the starter. This will really test the theory that an injured player gets his job back when he returns. I think Lattimore is a better player than Jones. Find a sub-package to use Jones in but keep Lattimore on the field! Guessing Jones gets his job back tho, I don’t see McCarthy taking a starters job due to injury, Even if the backup is now playing better.

    1. It’s a hard call. Who’s to say Jones wouldn’t have had 14 tackles and 2 sacks? Micah Hyde covered the TEs more, something Capers asks Jones to do. I will need to look at the game again, but I didn’t feel Capers asked Lattimore to cover the TEs as much.

      1. I don’t care about stats. Just by watching Lattimore is more impactful on the game than Jones was. Hyde was covering the TE so McMillan wasn’t on the field. Jones is decent, but Lattimore is more impactful by quite a bit IMO.

        1. Stats only paint a part of the story, to be sure.
          Look at the number of targets to guys covered by Jones. All the same, Deon Sanders would intentionally leave a guy “open” so the QB would throw it to him.
          Lattimore has been impressive, regardless.
          I know you, Stroh, to be a guy that also knows big plays are sometimes unnoticed or allow others to make the stat line. Why has Lattimore been impressive? Our LBs may only be average but looking impressive thanks to the big uglies in front of them. When all guys “do your job,” each player looks more impressive.

          Perhaps his emergence will allow more Okie formations?

  3. Oh and Get Well J-Mike. Take the time you need to decide if you wanna continue to play. I expect his willingness to play will be what decides this for him. Can only imagine how his son felt after seeing Daddy w/ a concussion and now get carried off on a stretcher.

  4. Maybe a lame call for dumb penalties. The Packers need to cut down on some of their unnecessary penalties. Fortunately they did not impact the final outcome of the Brown’s game. The officiating is bad enough, we don’t need to add to the stupid calls. Keeping good thoughts for JMike. In the meantime great works by all of the backups, Rodgers, the O-line and all of the defense. Thanks, Since ’61

  5. Very nice comment, Stroh. Sometimes the humanity of the players, our humanity and our basic goodness get lost in the thrill of the game, its money, its crowds, its competitive nature, its “winning is the only thing” mentality and the violence of professional football. It’s nice of a fan to consider the feelings of a young boy watching his father get injured.

    1. Good to see “dislikes” to your comment, Batavia Greg. They confirm my opinion that mankind hasn’t evolved much over the centuries. In ancient Rome, the decadent emperors kept the brutal, uneducated masses satisfied with bread, circuses and gladiator games. Things haven’t really changed. Today, the rich oligarchs and their corrupt politicians, who act like emperors, keep the brutal, uneducated masses satisfied with welfare, TV and professional football.

  6. Brad Jones and Lattimore are 2 good football players. With Perry and Mathews out for a while, they should use one of these guys to help rotate at OLB ,when Jones gets back (assuming Jones gets back first)

  7. What im saying is Brad Jones started his career as an OLB, he has experience. Granted, he’s a better ILB then OLB, but he still would be better then mulumba or Palmer at this point in their young careers. Leave Lattimore inside. This of course is contingent on Jones returning before Clay or Perry.

    Also, I just read that the redskins are shopping Fred Davis and he can be had for a 6th rd pick…..interesting?

    1. I disagree. I think Mulumba and Palmer are better OLB than Jones ever was. Leave Jones at ILB and that goes for Lattimore too. Jones hasn’t played any OLB in over a year, anyway so he would be worse than either of the young guys at this point.

    2. Why do you think they are shopping Fred Davis?…I’ll tell you why, they started playing a rookie TE out of Florida, and he is far superior to Davis…I frankly prefer what we have at TE than Fred Davis and that includes Quarless, Talylor, Bostick, and Stoneburner…

  8. Finley was having one of his best games Sunday before getting the spinal chord injury. He’s done for the year at least. Pack should IR him ASAP. Afdter the season ends he become’s a FA. Injury makes him too risky to sign for big bucks and I don’t see Finley playing again for anything less than mega-bucks. This very well could be career ender even if docs green light him. If I was TT I’d call CINCY and see if Gresham could be had.

    Last winter I consistently argued it would be wiser to invest bucks in Greg Jennings than Fin. GJ would look great in green and gold right now. Instead, he’s living a life of hell in MN just because of his envy of #12. Everybody came up a loser in that one.

    Agreed that youngsters like Lattimore, House, Hyde, Boykin, Bahktiari, Barclay, Lacy etc. have stepped up and become important Packers.

    Walking wounded should begin returning this week – Hayward and Brad Jones. After that, James Jones, N Perry and CMIII should be looking to return, as well as Starks. Cobb’s return remains a long term glimmer of hope. PUP guys in position to return as well.

    Nelson, James and Boykin are enough to get the job done at WR buy I don’t see a TE on the roster capable of stepping up. I hope TT is looking into possible trades. Tony Gonzo for 2nd half of season would be wonderful. We need a #1 TE who can block and catch. Tyler Eifert (CINCY) was my RD1 pick for Pack but he was gone before they picked.

    1. Jennings CHOSE to go to Minn. He had an offer from the Packers and had numberous other chances to re-sign in GB. He made his bed in Minn and there he will lay.

      If Jennings would have signed in GB, Finley undoubtedly wouldn’t be on the roster, only one of them was really affordable. Once Jennings didn’t sign the Packer had to keep Finley and give him the 3M bonus he was due.

  9. Hello All:

    I must admit I was angry on final countdown date: We had moved up in the draft to get Terrell Manning; We had developed and groomed Dezman Moses [who had 4 sacks]and should be getting better. So who do we keep? A guy from special teams, Mr. Jamari Lattimore, who was from Middle Tennessee State! After watching him play, allow me to apologize to the football program at Middle Tennessee State; apologize to Mr. Lattimore and, of course, to Ted.

    Warmest; Martha

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