When the Green Bay Packers entered Sunday night’s game at the Buffalo Bills, they were double-digit underdogs for the first time in quarterback Aaron Rodgers’s career. They were also in search of their first victory in Orchard Park, NY in franchise history.
When the game ended, the Packers covered the point spread, but they didn’t win, as Buffalo was able to grind out a 27-17 victory that brought a merciful end to an odd, chippy game. Buffalo won in spite of some big performances from Green Bay’s key players.
Here’s how our five Packers to watch played on Sunday night.
QB Aaron Rodgers
Through the first 50 minutes of game play, Rodgers had thrown for a total of 74 yards. Part of that was an inexplicably conservative game plan, but another part of that was Buffalo’s excellent coverage combined with some poor throws from the veteran quarterback. The Bills’ pass rush had Rodgers off balance all night, and as the team invited the Packers to run the ball, Green Bay followed suit—running in lieu of the pass for most of the night. That strategy continued even though they spent most of the game trailing by three scores, but the Packers finally let Rodgers throw it a little at the end of the fourth quarter. On Green Bay’s second-to-last drive, Rodgers threw for 83 yards and a touchdown. On the Packers’ final drive, Rodgers threw for 46 yards, bringing the team into long field goal range for Mason Crosby. The veteran kicker missed the field goal, but I couldn’t help but wonder if the game would have turned out a little differently had Green Bay allowed their future Hall of Fame quarterback to pass. He finished the night 19-of-30 for 203 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
RB Aaron Jones
Jones ran the ball at will for most of the night, as Buffalo remained in its nickel package even when Green Bay started throwing heavy personnel at them. Jones had 20 carries for 143 yards, averaging an absurd 7.2 yards per carry. That was just the second time the Bills had allowed a team to rush for over 100 yards this year, and only the third time a team had even hit the 80-yard mark on the ground. Jones was shifty and quick, showing plenty of burst and great vision for most of the night. When the Packers had a shot to inch closer early in the fourth quarter, he was blown up in the backfield on a 4th & 1 play, ending an 11-play drive that took almost six minutes off the clock. Jones also caught four passes for 14 yards, but he didn’t score a touchdown.
WR Romeo Doubs
The big rookie wideout entered the game leading Green Bay in targets, and he continued to do so throughout the contest on Sunday, as he saw a team-high seven targets on the night. He made two fantastic catches, both of which came while he was covered by Taron Johnson. One was the first of Rodgers’s touchdown passes, an acrobatic grab in the back of the end zone in the first half that cut Buffalo’s lead to 14-7. The second big gain he had came late in the game, as he hauled in a long pass along the sideline over Johnson. On both plays, Buffalo’s nickel corner had perfect coverage, and on both plays, Doubs just made a great catch. He totaled four receptions for 62 yards and that touchdown on the night.
EDGE Rashan Gary
Green Bay’s top pass rusher was coming off a concussion, and he was able to appear on 76% of the Packers’ defensive snaps. That’s the good news. The bad news, at least for Green Bay, is that Gary was a non-factor in the game, totaling just one tackle and one pass breakup on the evening. Buffalo’s tackles, Dion Dawkins and David Quessenberry, kept Gary in check.
CB Jaire Alexander
I...don’t understand what happened here. Alexander had a great game, posting an interception and three pass breakups. He didn’t allow a completion on five passes thrown his way. But he also ran his mouth all night, with most of his ire directed at wide receiver Stefon Diggs—even though he was covering wide receiver Gabe Davis. He continued showboating and running his mouth while his team trailed big, too. It was a weird flex from a very good player.