NFL Week 15 PFF ReFocused: Green Bay Packers 24, Carolina Panthers 16 | NFL News, Rankings and Statistics | PFF

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NFL Week 15 PFF ReFocused: Green Bay Packers 24, Carolina Panthers 16

Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is sacked by Carolina Panthers defensive end Brian Burns (53) in the fourth quarter during their football game Saturday, December 19, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY NETWORK

The Green Bay Packers leapfrogged the New Orleans Saints for the top seed in the NFC this past week, and they won’t be giving up that crown for at least another week following their 24-16 win over the Carolina Panthers tonight.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

STORY OF THE GAME

Early on, it looked like this game would go the way of the Saturday opener in Denver — as a comfortable coast-to-coast victory for the favorite.

Carolina didn’t have any answers for the Packers’ offense in the first half, as Green Bay averaged 6.2 yards per play. Their run game, in particular, was gashing the Panthers on the ground. Green Bay averaged a ridiculous 5.5 yards before contact per carry on 17 first-half runs.

Carolina didn’t go down without a fight, however. Their defense tightened up in the second half — allowing just 2.1 yards per play over the final two quarters — and that gave the Panthers an opportunity to get back into the game.

It was a rare pedestrian performance for Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. It was the only game this season other than the disastrous performance in Tampa Bay, where Rodgers posted less than 7.0 yards per attempt (4.9) and a passer rating below 100.0 (91.6). Meanwhile, Adams brought in seven catches in the game, but those receptions went for just 42 yards and two first downs.

Ultimately, Teddy Bridgewater and the Panthers’ offense couldn’t capitalize on that defensive performance in the second half and draw even. A decision by Matt Rhule to kick a field goal from the 4-yard line to cut the lead to eight in the fourth quarter was promptly followed by a 10-play, 5-minute field-goal drive from Green Bay that extended the lead back to two scores — a lead that proved to be insurmountable.

ROOKIE WATCH

With Carolina threatening to cut into Green Bay’s lead in the first half, Krys Barnes made one of the plays of the game with a forced fumble on the goal line — a play that allowed the Packers to extend their lead. He also flashed with a tackle for loss on an attempted Mike Davis screen in the third quarter. It was an impressive showing for the rookie at a position where Green Bay is looking for young players to emerge.

Derrick Brown recorded two sacks in the game, but it was a quiet night for the Panthers’ rookie defensive linemen as a unit. Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos and Bravvion Roy combined for just five pressures, and they were a prominent part of a Carolina defense that struggled to stop the Packers on the ground for much of the game.

Jeremy Chinn was also part of those problems in run defense, and his grade will likely reflect that once it is finalized. As always, Chinn frequently found himself around the football, though. His six tackles in the game lead the team after PFF's first-run analysis.

ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats 2.0.

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