Aaron Rodgers keeps Packers close by finding new playmakers
Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn (99) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the second of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
ATLANTA (AP) Aaron Rodgers found new ways to move a Green Bay offense missing many of its top playmakers.
Rodgers' creativity – and his four touchdown passes and career-high 60 yards rushing – kept the Packers close in Sunday's 33-32 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Even Rodgers' do-it-all best wasn't enough to overcome the loss of six starters, including linebacker Clay Matthews and wide receiver Randall Cobb, who were held out with hamstring injuries.
''First of all, there are no excuses,'' Rodgers said. ''We're all professionals out here and are expected to play well, and to that accord I'm proud of our guys and the way they battled.''
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The offense also was without starting tight end Jared Cook, who has an ankle injury, and wide receiver/running back Ty Montgomery, who was limited all week by an illness. If healthy, Montgomery was expected to see significant time at running back , as the Packers continue to adjust to the loss of Eddie Lacy to injured reserve with an ankle injury.
Rodgers improvised by finding new targets.
Receivers Geronimo Allison, Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis caught their first career touchdowns.
''That's our job, to go out and make plays, regardless of who's in there,'' said Allison, just promoted from the practice squad. Allison's 4-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter was his first career reception.
Fullback Aaron Ripkowski, who had six carries for the season before Sunday, matched that with six carries for 34 yards. He had four carries for 13 yards on the Packers' 13-play, 86-yard touchdown drive for a 32-26 lead with 4:04 remaining.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers ''was outstanding'' in the game, and he said the Packers have overcome injuries before.
''We have played like this before,'' McCarthy said. ''We have taken advantage with the people we have.''
Rodgers' said Green Bay's game plan was ''ever changing'' with late medical updates on Cobb and Montgomery.
''We felt good about the packages we had, but we knew we needed backup plans in case things went a certain way out there.''
The Packers began the game rotating running backs Don Jackson and Knile Davis, who combined to run for 14 yards on seven carries.
''I got away from that because I wasn't comfortable with it after the second quarter, and I thought our players responded very well,'' McCarthy said, adding he ''went to more of a spread game.''
McCarthy said medical updates will help determine the direction of the offense.
''We will see what the medical report looks like tomorrow and we will go from there,'' he said.
Montgomery said after the game doctors believe his illness is ''somewhat related to the sickle cell trait.''
''Unfortunately, I had to deal with some of those symptoms,'' Montgomery said. ''We're taking it day by day. We were monitoring the situation with the hope I'd be able to play today.''
James Starks, Lacy's backup, was out with a knee injury.
Rodgers completed 28 of 38 passes for 246 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Davante Adams started for Cobb and had a game-high 12 catches for 74 yards.
Julius Peppers started for Matthews and had a sack.
Green Bay's long list of inactive players also included starting cornerbacks Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall.
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