GREEN BAY – Long drives, big plays, and lots of points are all nice, but Head Coach Matt LaFleur is even happier about another aspect of the Packers' offense as it hits the stretch run.
It's playing its mentally sharpest football.
When the coaches review the game film, they track mental errors, such as misalignments and missed assignments. They happen. Nobody's perfect. So the general goal is to keep them under 10 per game.
LaFleur revealed Monday that last week against the Bears, the offense had just five mental errors. Then Sunday vs. the Eagles, it reduced them to four.
"It is by far the fewest mistakes that we've had on the offensive side of the ball all year long … in two years," LaFleur said. "Our guys have shown great ownership of the plan. If you get everybody on the same page knowing what to do, then you have a chance to go out there and be successful."
The mental sharpness has helped produce 64 points (with the defense adding seven against Chicago) in the last two victories that have boosted the Packers' record to 9-3 and put them two wins – or one win and a Minnesota loss – from clinching a second straight NFC North title.
The offense hit a lull in the fourth quarter against the Eagles but then finished the game in style, with Aaron Jones busting a 77-yard touchdown run, the longest of the LaFleur era, to close out the 30-16 triumph.
A game-breaking run had been hard to come by, with the Packers not posting a rush of more than 20 yards since Week 6. But after a handful of runs that gained 10-plus yards against the Bears and then some others that nearly broke Sunday, it seemed the big one was coming sooner than later.
"I thought there were a lot of good runs in the game that were very, very close to being explosive runs," LaFleur said. "It was so fun to see though, that last play, when you have just the effort."
Kudos were deserved across the board, for the blocking at the point of attack, for Jones breaking multiple tackles, and for several players – including linemen David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins – sprinting all the way downfield as part of the convoy.
A similar team effort was evident defensively as the pass rush produced seven sacks against Eagles QBs Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts. By collapsing the pocket from all sides, the Packers prevented Wentz and Hurts from scrambling except for a few times, and six different defenders recorded at least a half-sack in the game.
The one downer for the defense was allowing Hurts' 32-yard TD pass on fourth-and-18 that started the Eagles' comeback from a 23-3 deficit. If that play is stopped midway through the fourth quarter, the game is effectively over. Instead, a coverage bust allowed the score.
That was followed by a breakdown on punt coverage, which for the second time in four games allowed a touchdown return. LaFleur saw multiple mistakes at play, beginning with a low, down-the-middle punt and one of the gunners not staying on his proper side downfield.
"It's just one of those deals where it's going to take all 11, and it starts on that punt," LaFleur said. "It goes back to every man owning their responsibility.
"There was a lot to build upon from this game, and certainly it wasn't flawless, really in any phase, so that gives us stuff to coach and stuff to improve upon."
Injuries also are a concern as the fourth quarter of the regular season arrives. Defensive lineman Billy Winn (triceps), safety Raven Greene (shoulder) and running back/returner Tyler Ervin (ankle) all left Sunday's game and LaFleur said there's concern for their availability this week and perhaps moving forward. He had no update on receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, who was removed from the game to be evaluated for a concussion.