Rodgers leads Packers to road win
One week after he tied a franchise mark with six touchdown passes, Aaron Rodgers took down a couple more records during another impressive performance.
Rodgers threw for 342 yards and three more scores and the Green Bay Packers’ depleted defense clamped down on St. Louis in a 30-20 victory on Sunday that was the Rams’ first home loss of the year.
Randall Cobb caught two touchdown passes and Jordy Nelson had eight receptions for a season-best 122 yards for the Packers (4-3). Rookie Casey Hayward made his first start in place of injured Sam Shields and intercepted his fourth pass in three games.
”Winning is fun,” said Nelson, who had a 3-yard TD catch in the first quarter. ”That’s why we play games. It’s great to win back-to-back games, it sounds great to say that for the first time this year, but we’ve got to stack success.”
Backed by a huge contingent of cheeseheads who were every bit as loud as the real home fans, Rodgers directed Green Bay to its second consecutive turnover-free game. He now has 150 career TD passes and 42 interceptions, breaking Dan Marino’s NFL record for fewest interceptions at that milestone. Marino had 69 interceptions when he threw his 150th TD pass.
”This is one of the shorter trips for some of our fans, which is still a jaunt,” said Rodgers, who trotted off the field to a huge ovation. ”I think it’s probably eight hours if you’re busting the speed limit a little bit.
”The chants are incredible and the boos that we had on one of those calls from our fans was incredible. It was louder than the cheers for the Rams.”
Rodgers was 30 for 37, setting a single-game franchise completion record of 81.1 percent with a minimum of 35 attempts. He has guided the Packers to touchdowns on 12 of 14 trips inside the 20 over the last four games.
”I think their plan was to dink and dunk and catch us off guard,” Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan said. ”They made the plays when they needed to.”
Steven Jackson ran for his first touchdown of the year, and just the Rams’ 10th overall, to trim the deficit to a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. But Rodgers made a terrific throw to Cobb for a 39-yard pass that put the Packers up by two scores with 3:06 remaining.
The Rams (3-4) will surrender home-field advantage next week when they travel to London to play the Patriots. The team flies out on Monday.
Chris Givens had a 56-yard reception for St. Louis on a screen pass in the fourth quarter, his fourth straight game with a 50-yard plus reception. Fellow rookie Greg Zuerlein kicked a 50-yard field goal.
Rodgers’ numbers were almost as flashy as last week, when he helped Green Bay end the Texans’ unbeaten start with a 42-24 victory in Houston. He was very efficient while leading an offense heavily tilted to the pass game that went 9 for 15 on third down.
The Rams were undefeated in the Edward Jones Dome. They opened the home schedule with victories over the Redskins, Seahawks and Cardinals, limiting opponents to 14.7 points per game.
Green Bay played without four defensive starters. Shields (shin, ankle), linebacker Nick Perry (knee) and tackle B.J. Raji (ankle) were inactive. Linebacker D.J. Smith was recently placed on injured reserve.
St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford was 21 for 34 for 255 yards and an interception, and was sacked three times behind a patchwork line with just two starters left from the opener. He threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Austin Pettis with 3 seconds to go.
After dominating in time of possession in the first half, holding the ball for more than 18 minutes, the Rams ran just seven plays in the third quarter and were held to minus-7 yards while the Packers had 129 yards and 11:39 in time of possession.
Nelson wrapped up his second straight 100-yard game early in the third quarter, often picking on rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Cobb threw a nice fake on Jenkins in the end zone on a 5-yard catch that put the Packers up 17-6 midway through the third, capping a 12-play, 80-yard drive to open the half that lasted nearly seven minutes.
”We had one of our best drives of the season, for sure,” Rodgers said. ”It wasn’t the prettiest drive, but we converted a lot of third downs.
”That was a very key drive for us and a good one to look back on as we watch the film tomorrow.”
Rodgers completed his first nine passes for 115 yards, including a 52-yarder to Nelson that set up a 3-yarder for Nelson’s fourth score in two games. The first incompletion came with just over six minutes left in the half when Rodgers slightly overthrew James Jones on a sideline pattern, with Jones able to get just his fingertips on the ball.
Nelson’s long catch came on a free play, with Long whistled for an offsides penalty.
”It’s an explosive gain and it really gets the energy heating up and going,” Nelson said. ”Whenever you get a free opportunity to take a shot you’ve got to make the most of it.”
The Packers’ Jamari Lattimore recovered an onside kick at the Rams 49 after St. Louis’ Trumaine Johnson was flipped on his head when he was just about to haul in the ball, setting up a 47-yard field goal by Mason Crosby for a 10-3 lead late in the first.
Zuerlein ended a string of three misses, the last a 66-yarder that had the distance but was wide left at the end of last week’s 17-14 loss at Miami, with a 50-yarder that gave the Rams the early lead. Zuerlein is 5 for 7 from 50-plus.
NOTES: Givens, a fourth-round pick who’s been the Rams’ best deep threat all year, averaged 24.3 yards on three receptions. … Johnson left with a hip injury after the onside kick but returned for the third quarter. … Packers backup DE Mike Neal and Rams backup DE Eugene Sims both left with knee injuries in the second quarter. Sims, who will undergo additional medical testing, was the only significant injury for the Rams. … Packers DE Clay Matthews picked up his ninth sack in the third quarter when he chased down Bradford on a rollout.