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Monday, Oct. 21, 2013

Jarrett Boykin Steps Up With James Jones and Randall Cobb Out

Looking Pack: Week 7

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Jim Biever / Packers.com
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When the Green Bay’s schedule was announced during the offseason, the Oct. 20 home game against the perennial awful Cleveland Browns was almost universally viewed as an easy win throughout Packerland. The skewed matchup seemed even more lopsided after week two, as the winless Browns traded franchise player Trent Richardson to the Colts and starting quarterback Brandon Weeden was injured.

To everyone’s surprise, Cleveland won three of its next four games—making what was once a football formality into a battle of three-win teams. Whatever excitement and intrigue had materialized since late September quickly disappeared, as the Packers never trailed en route to a 31-13 win.

The Packers offense set the tone early, forcing Cleveland to punt on its first drive, then drove down the field easily on a 40-yard opening drive capped off with a 10-yard Aaron Rodgers-to-Jermichael Finley touchdown connection. Cleveland managed to get into Green Bay territory on its next drive, but ultimately stalled again—in the form of a Davon House interception thrown by Weeden (who’s healthy again) on 4th and 1. Green Bay’s second drive was more of the same, as the Packers breezed down the field again, culminating in an Eddie Lacy touchdown run from a yard out to give extend the lead to 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The Browns narrowed the gap in the second quarter with a 46-yard field goal off the foot of ex Packers training camper Billy Cundiff. However, Mason Crosby put the deficit back at 14 with a 26-yarder of his own in the waning second of the half. Green Bay went into the locker room with a 17-3 lead, having scored on three of its four first half possessions.

The second half became the Jarrett Boykin show. The unheralded second-year player was given the tall task of accounting for some of the production lost in the injuries of James Jones and Randall Cobb—a duo that combined for 49 receptions, 717 receiving yards and four touchdowns in Green Bay’s first five games. Boykin performed admirably, racking up over 100 receiving yards on eight receptions, including a fourth quarter touchdown grab. He and Jordy Nelson (who had five catches for 42 yards and a touchdown) were able to spell Cobb, Jones and, later, Finley when the tight end was carted off the field after sustaining a neck injury. Lacy also supplied a viable rushing attack, with a respectable 82 yards on the day.

On the other side of the ball, Cleveland’s star receiver Josh Gordon was kept at bay by Sam Shields. Gordon went three-plus quarters without a catch, and only managed 21 yards in garbage time. Up and coming Cleveland tight end Jordan Cameron fared just slightly better, tallying 55 yards and a touchdown. Save for another Cundiff field goal, the defense quietly held the Browns in check. Cleveland managed just 83 yards on the ground, and Weeden was held to a laughable 149 yards through the air (and was sacked three times in the process).

Though rampant Packers injuries and Cleveland’s unexpected offensive uptick made this week seven game anything but a slam dunk on paper, Green Bay’s performance and the Browns returning to familiar faulty form made things relatively easy for the Packers on the field.


Player Of The Game (Offense) – Jarrett Boykin

Boykin’s eight receptions were two more than his career mark prior to Sunday. Shouldering much of the workload left in the absence of Cobb and Jones, he caught eight of 10 balls thrown his way, accounting for 106 yards and his first career touchdown.


Player Of The Game (Defense/Special Teams) – Jamari Lattimore

Green Bay’s next man up mentality also needed to be applied to the drastically depleted linebacker corps. Fortunately, that next man was undrafted third year inside linebacker Lattimore, whose 12 tackles tied A.J. Hawk for the team lead. Lattimore also supplied one of the three Packers sacks on the afternoon.


Up next: Sunday, Oct. 27 at Minnesota Vikings at 7:30 p.m.