Instant reaction: Packers 27, Broncos 16

The Packers (3-0) defeated the Denver Broncos (0-3) by a score of 27-16 on Sunday at Lambeau Field. My initial thoughts on the win:

  • For the first time in the regular season, the Packers’ defense didn’t look particularly great, at least for the majority of the afternoon. Denver had more than their fair share of success in the running game, with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman combining for 36 carries and 144 yards, and Joe Flacco looked downright serviceable. The tackling issues that arose during the preseason returned for about the first two and a half quarters as well, though Green Bay shored that up nicely when it came to crunch time, once again coming up with a big stop in the game’s waning moments.
  • Where the defense did step up, however, was the turnover department. Preston Smith and Jaire Alexander both forced fumbles, while Darnell Savage hauled in his first career interception. Through three games the Packers have eight takeaways–more than half of their total for the entire 2018 season. Also of note: Preston Smith had three sacks on the day, giving him a total of 4.5 on the season.
  • Matt LaFleur’s offense continues to struggle unless it’s the opening drive or a short field. For the second straight week, they started hot, with a script that looked damn near perfect. After that, it was pretty much a slog for the rest of the afternoon. If you’re looking for a silver lining, they did take advantage of the defense’s two forced fumbles, scoring touchdowns after each.
  • The sequence near the end of the first half that led to a touchdown was beautiful. J.K. Scott boomed a 50-yarder to pin the Broncos deep, Rashan Gary recovered a fumble forced by Preston Smith, and Aaron Jones finished things off with a rushing touchdown. To see all three phases intertwine like that feels like something we haven’t seen in Green Bay in quite some time.
  • Speaking of Scott, the baby-faced assassin just continues to destroy the ball. Scott punted four times for a 53-yard average against the Broncos, including a massive 66-yarder that pinned Denver at their own three-yard line after a Packers three-and-out late in the third quarter.
  • Again, three games into the Matt LaFleur era, the sample size is small. But dudes just look so much more bought in than they have in recent years. Whether it’s a ballcarrier fighting for extra yardage or the entire defense celebrating turnovers together, the amount of fun being had is significantly higher. Winning cures everything, sure, but it sure seems like there’s been a culture shift at 1265 Lombardi.

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