At the end of the first half, with two seconds on the clock and a single yard to cover, the Packers kept the ball on the ground rather than letting Aaron Rodgers throw it.
In a micro view, it was a bad decision. As a theme, it was a good sign for the future.
The Packers improved to 8-2 with a nerve-wracking 24-16 win over the Panthers, hammering them in the second half with a run game and a defense which should serve them well the rest of the way.
The Packers rushed for 163 yards as a team, with running back Aaron Jones totaling 93 yards and three touchdowns. With that kind of output, Rodgers didn’t have to do the things he’s so often done on his own. That’s the kind of thing that will help as they look to the rest of the regular season and postseason.
While the Panthers (5-4) got the big stop at the end of the second quarter — when the Packers opted against a chip shot field goal for a seven-point lead — the Packers gashed them in the second half. It was the kind of cumulative breakdown of run defense that happens when teams have to defend long drives, in cold weather, with an offense that offers a slim margin of error.
Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen has found success while operating with a safety net, but it wasn’t there for large portions of Sunday. He fumbled the ball away (his fifth of the year) and threw an interception to lose his second career start. The Panthers have won with him on the field in his other five starts this year, but losses against the 49ers and Packers may have exposed them as a clear step below the playoff-level teams in the NFC.
He was still able to get the Panthers into position to possibly tie the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion, but Christian McCaffrey was ruled a yard short of the end zone, and replay upheld the call on the field.
It was a strong performance for Allen on the whole, as he threw for a career-high 307 yards.