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Inbox: The red zone was the difference

Any of these games can turn on the smallest of dimes

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S Adrian Amos sacks Texans QB Deshaun Watson

Greg from Glendale, AZ

Taking care of business.

That's what it felt like to me, too.

Patrick from Oconomowoc, WI

Um, who is Henry Black and how is his helmet target so perfect?

How about that, huh? Your third defensive snap as an NFL player – an undrafted rookie from Baylor called up from the practice squad – and you get a forced fumble to seal the deal. Pretty cool.

Larry from Jensen Beach, FL

Nice hit! Who's Henry Black? Looks like he's a Packer!

I thought there were a handful of little-known unsung contributors from this game, which is why I focused my editorial on them.

Kurt from Oak Point, TX

Looking at the box score, this seems like an evenly matched game. What doesn't show up in the stats that led to the lopsided outcome?

The Texans couldn't run the ball. Half their rushing yards were Watson scrambles and almost one-third of the rest of the yardage came on one run. More important, the Packers got two big stops in the red zone. A few more yards here and there and the Texans have eight more points, which makes the ending very different. I mentioned the red zone a lot last week. It was the difference in this game.

Swedgin from Norton Shores, MI

Don't overreact to losses and don't overreact to wins, assess the play critically. With that in mind, how would you rate Aaron Rodgers on his passing accuracy in this one? I don't feel like he had a particularly good game, and I think his receivers made him look good quite a few times. I think that's more interesting to talk about than just praising him based on his stat line. It would be nice if a beat reporter asked him to grade himself; I feel like he wouldn't go above a "C."

I think that's a tad harsh. He missed a couple of throws, and there were a few nice catches on less-than-perfect placement, but those happen every game. The sideline go and back-shoulder throws to Davante Adams were pretty darn good, as were the short TD passes to Malik Taylor and Jace Sternberger with defenders forcing spot-on accuracy. No disrespect to anyone, but Rodgers makes his receivers look good way more often than the other way around.

Richard from Menasha, WI

Two Packers got their first TDs this week (Sternberger and Taylor). How many more Packers could get their first touchdown this season?

Without listing all the practice-squad guys, the candidates would be AJ Dillon, Tyler Ervin, Darrius Shepherd and Equanimeous St. Brown.

Mark from Cape Coral, FL

I'm pretty sure Rice's football team, and kicker Collin Riccitelli in particular, wishes there were already laser goals posts in college football. A four-doinker to lose on the last play of the game, unbelievable...

Quadruple heartache. When you consider chaos theory (my rudimentary understanding is courtesy of Jeff Goldblum in the original "Jurassic Park"), it's incredible with a ball shaped like a football how a fraction of an inch here or there could have changed any of those bounces – I mean, doinks – and perhaps the outcome.

Nick from Prescott, WI

I wholeheartedly welcome the Big Ten back playing football, but the game has changed so much the past few years that it is becoming frustrating. Any close play the referees have to stop the game and have a five-minute review. I get the spirit of booth review is to overturn obvious miscalculations, but to have these constant reviews on any sort of close first down or catch is taking away from the game. "Send in the micro-managers." Is this football?

College replay reviews take way too long. They do damage the viewing and playing experience. It shouldn't be that hard to take a couple of looks and make a call. But I also have no problem with the two-point play at the end of Penn St.-Indiana taking as long as necessary.

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

"And in a game of inches, the outcome often comes down to what's between the ears." I am sure you were happy to see Penn St. score and give Indiana the chance to come back and tie it. The two-point call in OT was very aggressive and, whether you think it was good or not, it takes guts to make that call and play with it all on the line. No way replay changes the call on the field either way. What a football game! Big Ten football is back and is always a great undercard to NFL Sunday!

It was interesting how the Penn St. running back realized a half step too late that he was being allowed to score and shouldn't. Then Sunday, Atlanta's Todd Gurley knew exactly what he should do but couldn't stop himself from barely breaking the plane. Any of these games can turn on the smallest of dimes.

Scott from La Crosse, WI

Not really a question, but seeing the end of the Lions game shows just how smart a move it was last year when Jamaal Williams took the dive at the end of the game. Gurley was given the TD which allowed the Lions a minute to March back and win. For all the back and forth last year about the play, putting the ball in your own hands at the end to secure a win was just the smart move.

The game is geared toward offense. If you can win without having to subject your defense to an unnecessary possession, you do it 101 times out of 100.

Dan from Grayslake, IL

Kudos to Billy Turner and the OL for a solid performance in yet another realignment in David Bakhtiari's absence. Not so much for Dexter Williams who got blown up a few times on special teams including the blocked punt.

What the Packers' offensive line has done this season is really impressive. All the adjustments have been seamless. Only one subpar game from that group despite all the shuffling. The special teams had its first rough game of the season with the blocked punt and onside kick. Those miscues can cost games, and fortunately they can work to clean those up without a negative end result hanging over their head.

George from North Mankato, MN

Just wanted to shout out the performance of the O-line as a whole vs. the Texans. Turner slid over to fill the void left by Bakhtiari and Rick Wagner held his own replacing Turner. Next-man-up mentality was on display. Would you say Stenavich has stepped out from behind the shadow cast by James Campen?

Clearly, and Stenavich's assistant, Luke Butkus, deserves credit, too. Stenavich was in a tough spot last year, getting a veteran group (Bulaga, Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley, Taylor) to buy what a new position coach was selling. That's not easy.

Mike from Green Bay, WI

Sometimes there are moments in sports when you are glad that you were a part of it, and didn't miss it. Game 4 was one of those moments!

One of the best World Series games I've ever watched, and that was before the crazy ending. Unreal. The former Brewer who got the big hit, Brett Phillips, hadn't had an at-bat in 17 days and hadn't had a hit in 29 days. Ah, baseball. Pulling for a Game 7.

Tyler from Green Bay, WI

257 times, huh? I'd ask you to show your work but I hear there's no math in the Inbox. You often refer to injured players working off to the side with the rehab group. Who runs that portion of practice?

The athletic training staff and/or strength and conditioning coaches.

Big from Rochester, NY

Three words: The Pack is back!

There truly is no math in the Inbox.

Randy from Raleigh, NC

Through six games the Packers rarely blitz, but when they do it seems they are rewarded with good results. I'm sure there is a good reason why they don't blitz more. Any insight why?

Three of the first five QBs they faced – Stafford, Brees, Brady – are get-the-ball-out-quick guys. Blitzing isn't going to do much. Pettine also said last week the success rate with sending a fifth guy was down so far this year. The pressure numbers weren't there. It comes down to matchups, effectiveness, and gut feel for the moment. The all-out blitz on third down in the red zone producing the Adrian Amos sack is not the kind of call you can make often. The element of surprise is a factor there.

Bob from Myrtle Beach, SC

Can we celebrate and give some credit to the defense, for what I thought was vastly improved tackling?

It was a solid effort. A few misses, but not a unit-wide issue. Watson is not easy to bring down but they didn't let him run wild back there. That was important.

Matt from Lansing, MI

So, under normal circumstances, when "Bang on the Drum All Day" plays at Lambeau do you stop writing for the duration of the song?

Nope. I keep banging on my keyboard all day.

David from Appleton, WI

Spoff mentioned having to maintain relationships when covering the locker room. How do you balance keeping good relationships with the players while simultaneously keeping good relationships with your cultivated audience through objective reporting? Seems like a difficult balancing act.

I know Wes already answered this but I wanted to add to his important thoughts. For me it comes down to being fair, and if you're fair to the players, you're being fair to the readers. Quote the players accurately and in the proper context. Get their thoughts on both good and bad performances when possible. Keep an ear on all media sessions with the head coach, assistant coaches and other players, with the necessary filter, to get the true vibe, the whole picture. That's how you serve both the subjects and the audience. It's also how you respect all parties and earn respect in return. If you do the job right, the balancing act takes care of itself, not flawlessly but on the whole. It's why I have no time for the pundits who haven't spoken or listened to a single legitimate source and simply devise opinions to make themselves sound smart, which usually means putting their own spin on a hot take they know a segment of the fan base wants to hear. I'm forever thankful I have a job where I'm not evaluated by click numbers. Sorry for the soapbox speech.

Travis from Bremerton, WA

This is a long shot, but fun to think about. There could be a 4-12 NFC East champion in the playoffs if those teams continue the way they are. Pretend we're not Packer fans for the moment. Would you be cheering for that 4-12 Cinderella team? I know I would.

Does anyone know, with all the games the NFC East teams have against each other, if it's possible for the champ to finish with only four wins? All kidding aside, you hate to see what happened to Andy Dalton. Hope he's OK. On yet another note, the typical wild finish to a Seattle game removed the last NFC team from the ranks of the unbeaten. But get this: There are currently eight teams in the conference above .500 fighting for six playoff spots, and that list doesn't include Carolina (3-4) or Detroit (3-3), who can't be written off this early. Buckle up, folks, this is going to be some ride.

Douglas from St. Germain, WI

Last week, Dallas players were publicly discordant about Mike McCarthy. This week, McCarthy shot back at his players for not reacting to Dalton's injury. Is disaster far behind?

I don't know how it's not already characterized as a disaster on multiple fronts. But the nutty thing is there's a division title and playoff spot for the taking by any of those four teams in the NFC East. Will the Cowboys come together and focus on that, or will they continue to direct their energies toward squabbling? There's only one productive path.

Dave from Roswell, GA

Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin...looks like the Pack could now have their solution at ILB.

Martin looked just like he did in training camp, always in on the action. Hopefully Barnes' injury is nothing serious. It's nice to have options.

The Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans faced off in a Week 7 matchup on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020.

Sean from Denver, CO

Was this Preston Smith's best game so far? I noticed several times he seemed to be sealing off an edge to help shut down the running game. And the big fourth-down stop. But wondering if stats/your observations support that?

For sure. I saw multiple high-impact plays with him getting into the backfield, both against the run and on the pass rush, even before the big fourth down. It's coming for him.

Jeremiah from Madison, WI

So is it "Jaire Island" or "Alexander Island"?

No chortling, but I think the latter has a nicer ring to it. Man is he playing well. Really well.

Patsi from Riverside, CA

What a great comeback game for Aaron Rodgers, and a special career record day for Davante Adams! Excellent game all around on both sides of the ball. What is Jamaal Williams' single-game record for yards from scrimmage?

156 at N.Y. Jets in 2018. He had 114 yesterday.

Luke from Fargo, ND

Am I wrong thinking it feels almost inevitable that Adams will break the single-game reception record at some point? And also goes to show how good Hutson was and how difficult it was to get there.

I do think he'll get 15 sooner than later. Given his penchant for 997-yard seasons, it seems like he should have come up short of his first 200-yard game by three yards, not four.

Evan from Captiva, FL

Just wanted to thank you for the in-game blog. The play-by-play is great for those of us unable to see the game on TV.

Glad I could help out. We always have a bigger audience for that when the TV coverage is regional. It was a good gathering yesterday.

Jim from Hainesville, IL

Spoff, nice win. Now, about that loss to the Buccaneers...

Happy Monday.

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