10-3 ‼️‼️‼️ let’s gooo— jaire Alexander (@JaireAlexander) December 8, 2019
The Green Bay Packers won't be getting any style points for their win over the Washington Redskins. Instead, Green Bay demonstrated how to win football games in January with a 20-15 victory over Washington, clinching its first 10-win season in three years and staying in first place of the NFC North with three games remaining.
Washington put up a valiant effort against one of the NFC's top teams, but the Redskins couldn't generate enough offense to pull off the upset and are officially eliminated from the NFC East race and playoff contention with the loss. The Redskins didn't get any help on the injury front, as starting running back Derrius Guice left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury and quarterback Dwayne Haskins battled through a leg injury throughout the game. Haskins looked immobile from the first quarter on, which affected his ability to extend plays as the Packers defense sacked him five times.
Aaron Jones scored the first touchdown of the game for the Packers, part of a season-high 134 rushing yards in the win. Jones was the catalyst of the Packers offense, finishing with 192 total yards and a score on an afternoon where quarterback Aaron Rodgers was just pedestrian (18 for 28, 195 yards, touchdown, no interceptions, 96.6 rating) and the Packers had 341 yards of offense.
Washington was able to cut Green Bay's lead to 20-15 on a Haskins touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin with 1:17 to play, but Haskins was unable to run for the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to three points. Davante Adams recovered the onside kick to seal the victory, as Packers head coach Matt LaFleur became the first head coach in Packers history to win 10 games in his first season.
Here are takeaways and analysis from this game as the Packers inch closer to going back to the playoffs for the first time in three years. For a recap of this one, check into our live blog below.
Why the Packers won
The Packers had a balanced offensive attack on an afternoon where they didn't have to rely on Rodgers to win a game for them. They can thank Jones for his performance, as he finished with 8.4 yards per carry in leading a Packers rushing attack that finished with 174 yards on the ground. Green Bay had more rushing yards than passing yards (167) as the Packers had 32 pass plays to 28 run plays, averaging 5.7 yards per play. Jones was the catalyst on both Packers touchdown drives, having 22 yards on the first touchdown drive that included a 4-yard touchdown run. On the Packers' second touchdown drive, Jones finished with 20 yards, which included a 16-yard run two plays prior to Rodgers' passing touchdown. The Packers also went to Jones on their first four plays in the second half, and Jones went for 47 yards as that drive resulted in a Crosby field goal. Green Bay relied on Jones to get points, which proved to be an excellent strategy.
Why the Redskins lost
Offense has been the problem for the Redskins all season, so why would Sunday's game against the Packers be any different? The Redskins entered the game averaging just 14.4 points per game and 262.4 yards per game, both last in the NFL. They finished with 15 points and 262 yards, right on average. Washington was 4-for-11 (36.4%) on third down, just higher than their 26.52% third down conversion rate. The Redskins had an impressive 11-play, 95 yard drive to score a touchdown in the second quarter, but had just 72 yards in the ensuing four possessions after that ... unable to cut into the Packers 8-point lead throughout the second half. Washington did have an 8-play, 75 yard touchdown drive when Green Bay went to a conservative defense late in the fourth quarter, but the game was essentially over at that point. Haskins played injured, going 16 for 27 for 170 yards with a touchdown and interception, but didn't have time to do much thanks to his immobility and poor offensive line. The Redskins may have been able to get more points if Guice was healthy, but their offense is the worst in the NFL for a reason.
The Packers had control of this one from the first quarter on, but the Redskins had an opportunity to get a field goal just before the half and cut Green Bay's lead to 14-9. Haskins took the Redskins offense to the Packers' 41, but threw an interception to Adrian Amos at the Green Bay 24 with eight seconds left in the first half, ending any opportunity of Washington getting a field goal (Dustin Hopkins made a 52-yard kick later in the game).
Haskins was looking for Kelvin Harmon on an out route, but the throw was thrown off his back foot and was rushed as the pocket slowly collapsed in front of him. The pass wasn't a good one and easy to read for Amos as the Packers took points off the board from the Redskins. A better read by Haskins perhaps puts the Redskins in position to kick a field goal and cut the deficit to five.
Play of the game
Jones dominated this game from start to finish, but this 25-yard catch on third-and-14 was the play that set up a long scoring drive that put the Redskins away late in the fourth quarter. Rodgers didn't have many options when looking to his left, but fired a perfect strike between two Redskins defenders to Jones, who was falling on his back when he made the catch.
The throw was the best by Rodgers all day as the Packers ran six more minutes off the clock, which led to Crosby's field goal to make it a two-score game with 2:38 left. Without Jones' catch, the Packers would've given the ball back to Washington around midfield with over eight minutes to play in a 17-9 game.
"... I would guess not many people would expect us to be in this position. We're going to enjoy it, I'm going to have my fair share of scotch tonight and feel good about being 10-3." - Aaron Rodgers on the Packers winning 10 games and now the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoff race, via John Doran of Fox 11.
Green Bay is currently the No. 2 seed in the NFC and will clinch a bye in the playoffs if the Packers win their final three games.
The Packers (10-3) look to finish their quest for the NFC North title with back-to-back games against division opponents. First is a home game against the Chicago Bears, which they beat 10-3 in Week 1 of the regular season. The Redskins (3-10), eliminated from the NFC East race and playoff contention, will host the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday.