Against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football the Green Bay Packers’ defense gave up the 18th most receiving yards to a single player in a single game in NFL history to Julio Jones (259). This isn’t the first time a player has torched the Packers under Dom Capers. The game being broadcasted to a national audience has led many to begin discussing if this previously (and recently) highly acclaimed Packers team already has their fate sealed with another early playoff exit.
This post takes a look at previous games in which players have had monster games against the Packers’ defense under Dom Capers as well as the opponents on the receiving end of the best receiving performances of all time and try to see if one game really does spell doom for the 2014 Green Bay Packers.
This is the 6th season for the Packers with Dom Capers commanding the defense. Capers has taken a lot of heat for the big games that the Packers have given up to quarterbacks and receivers alike and has led many to question on whether he can get it done at the end of the day. The curious thing is that up until the Packers gave up 30 2nd half points to Atlanta many had been excited and praising what the Packers defense had done the previous four and a half games.
Julio Jones put up 259 receiving yards Monday night and the Packers had no answer for him. However, the question is, does that matter? It’s frustrating to watch as a fan as your team seemingly cannot stop one player, but to me yards are yards and it really doesn’t matter who gets them. What most people are going to focus on though are the 259 yards and 30 second half points.
What I’m going to focus on is two very good quarters of football and two very bad quarters of defense that ended up in a Packers win. Looking to the future, does two quarters of bad defense mean that we will see Colin Kaepernick go for 444 total yards to knock the Packers out of the playoffs in January again? Lets take a look.
In the five and a half seasons under Dom Capers there have been eight regular season games in which a player has either thrown for 400 yards (twice 500) or had 200 receiving yards against the Green Bay Packers (vs the Detroit Lions on New Years Day in 2012 and opening day in 2013 against the 49ers saw both).
There have also been two playoff games that ended the season for the Packers in which the defense had very bad showings giving up 379 passing yards and 5 touchdowns to Kurt Warner and the previously mentioned 444 total yards to Colin Kaepernick. Giving up huge statistical games like that typically make people believe that the Packers, or any team really, have no chance of winning that game.
However, after Monday night the Packers have improved to a record of 5 wins and 3 losses in games where they give up 400 passing yards or 200 receiving yards and obviously 0-2 in the two playoff games. Not nearly the death sentence that some envision. In fact only one of those ten games was decided by more than one score (the playoff game against San Francisco two years ago). Even when the defense is getting gashed by a single player, Rodgers and the offense are able to keep the Packers in it. A .500 record and only one loss by more than one score in the defense’s worst games is pretty impressive.
Julio Jones’ 259 receiving yards is a lot of receiving yards. There have only been 17 better single game performances receiving the ball in NFL history. Maybe looking at how other teams fared the season they gave up some of the top receiving performances in NFL history can help shed some light on the future of this Packers season.
Looking at the top 30 receiving performances in NFL history reveals some interesting statistics. If you’re like me you will assume that the teams that have a receiver that puts up at least 246 receiving yards will win that game. That would make you correct.
Putting up 246+ receiving yards in the NFL has led to a winning percentage of 70 percent (good for a record of 21-7-2). That’s no surprise. However what is a surprise is that of the top 8 receiving performances, only one came against a team that finished the season below .500 (the 1950 Baltimore Colts who finished 1-11). Yes, seven of the top eight receiving performances in NFL history have come against teams that finished the season at or above .500. In fact only 14 of the 30 games were against teams that finished the season below .500.
Looking at how those teams fared in terms of the playoffs doesn’t shed any negative light on the Packers’ chances either. Assuming the Packers make the playoffs this season, 6 of the 30 teams on this list will have made the playoffs, good for 20 percent of the teams. That’s not too bad considering a handful of these games came in seasons where there were no playoffs, just championships.
No team that has given up at least 246 receiving yards in an NFL game has lost in the first round of the playoffs that season. Two teams lost in their conference championship games, one lost in the Super Bowl, and one of them (the 2000 Baltimore Ravens who that season beat the Jaguars despite giving up 291 receiving yards to Jimmy Smith) even won the Super Bowl.
Much like the Green Bay Packers with Dom Capers as a defensive coordinator the majority of these 30 games were decided by one score or less. In total 77 percent of the top receiving games in NFL history were decided by one score or less. An odd stat indeed for these huge single game offensive outbursts, especially considering over the last 20 years only 49 percent of games have been decided by one score or less.
Does any of this mean that Packers will win the Super Bowl this season? No, of course not. But it does show that it has happened before and more than one very good team has had these games happen to them before. The Packers have overcome these games before. If you’re going to be in a game where one player is having a monster statistical game through the air, typically it will end up as a close game and if you are going to be in a close, high scoring game, it’s nice to have Aaron Rodgers on your side.——————
Mike Reuter lives in the Twin Cities and is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas. He is a mobile tech enthusiast, a 19 year Gopher Football season ticket holder and a huge Packers fan. Mike is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @uofmike.