The Packers are locked in

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Good gracious. If there wasn't a buzz about Green Bay before Friday night's preseason showcase at Arizona, there is now.

The Packers led the defending NFC champions 38-10 at halftime, having rolled up nearly 350 yards of offense. The game got close in garbage time, but the Packers held on for a 44-37 victory. The Packers have been as sharp as any NFL team this summer. There are no rewards for winning the preseason, but so far they're doing it.

Here are three observations based on online video, followed by links to local coverage:

  1. This is no secret, and we've mentioned it before, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers is locked in this summer. His 14-for-19 performance, good for 258 yards and three touchdowns, brought his preseason rating to 151.1. Rodgers also reeled off a 34-yard scramble to set up one score, and continued his downfield assault in the passing game -- including a 76-yard score to Jordy Nelson and a 55-yard pass to Donald Driver. Most of it happened without receiver Greg Jennings, who suffered a concussion on his only reception. Get this: In three preseason games this summer, the Packers' first-team offense hasn't punted yet.

  2. The defense gave up some yards, but in the first half at least, it followed through on its pledge to cause havoc. Cornerback Charles Woodson set up two scores with forced fumbles, one after stripping receiver Jerheme Urban and another after sacking quarterback Kurt Warner. Linebacker Aaron Kampman grabbed the ball on the latter play and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown. Safety Anthony Smith, meanwhile, made a nice interception over the middle to set up a touchdown. I wonder if that will be enough for him to unseat starter Atari Bigby. In any event, that's how a Dom Capers defense is supposed to operate.

  3. About the only nitpick I could find was place-kicker Mason Crosby, who converted from 27 yards but also missed from 29 and 48 yards. But even then, the Packers had a reasonable excuse. Holder Matt Flynn (shoulder) was sidelined, so receiver Ruvell Martin served in that role Friday night. The holder-kicker relationship takes time to develop.

Local coverage: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Green Bay Press-Gazette, Wisconsin State Journal, Packers.com.