The Green Bay Packers’ record remains perfect. The fact that their play has been far from flawless remains a constant source of motivation for Aaron Rodgers.
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Rodgers threw three touchdowns, including a career-long 93-yarder to Jordy Nelson, and the Packers rolled to a 24-3 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. With Sunday’s loss by NFC North rival Detroit, the Packers (6-0) are the last unbeaten team left in the NFL this season.
But Green Bay’s offense hit a lull and didn’t score in the second half.
”It’s a feeling of minor disappointment, I think, in that locker room,” Rodgers said. ”We just, in the second half, offensively just struggled. The second quarter was great, we put up a lot of points. I think it’s encouraging at the same time. It’s tough to win in this league, we’re 6-0, and have a lot of room for improvement.”
Rodgers threw for 310 yards, delivering touchdowns to Nelson, James Jones and Donald Driver.
Sam Bradford was 28 of 44 for 321 yards with an interception for the Rams (0-5), who were coming off their bye week.
”We do not accept losing and our actions will reflect that,” Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. ”It is about winning football games, not moral victories.”
Bradford’s ankle was sore after the game, but the Rams didn’t seem overly concerned about the injury.
Rams running back Steven Jackson had 18 carries for 96 yards.
”For whatever reason, we get into the red zone, we keep shooting ourselves in the foot,” Jackson said.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy had a mixed reaction to the victory. He bristled at questions about the offense being shut out in the second half, saying, ”the last time I checked, when you win by three touchdowns, that’s a pretty significant win.”
But McCarthy also said the team isn’t anywhere near where it wants to be.
”You have to be running on all cylinders, and we’re not there yet,” McCarthy said. ”So fortunately, we’re 6-0. We’ll continue to work to get there.”
The Packers were wearing blue-and-gold uniforms designed to replicate a 1929 design, but Rodgers’ ability to scramble out of trouble and make big plays was anything but a throwback to the days of leather helmets. Rodgers did offer a wholehearted endorsement of the third uniform earlier in the week, saying the pants were among the most comfortable football pants he’d ever worn.
As Rodgers kept rolling, the Packers continued to brush off a fresh batch of injuries.
Green Bay got right tackle Bryan Bulaga back from a knee injury after the 2010 first-round pick missed the previous two games. But the Packers will have to live without veteran left tackle Chad Clifton indefinitely after he injured his hamstring in last Sunday’s victory at Atlanta.
Second-year player Marshall Newhouse took over for Clifton, but the Rams couldn’t get much pressure on Rodgers – and when they did, he simply spun away.
The Packers also were banged up at safety. Already missing Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins – out for the season after sustaining a neck injury in Week 2 – fellow safety Morgan Burnett had to play Sunday’s game with a huge club on his broken right hand.
Green Bay’s secondary took another blow in the third quarter when cornerback Sam Shields sustained a head injury after he picked off a Bradford pass in the end zone and was hit hard. McCarthy said Shields was still being evaluated after the game.
Trailing 3-0 and facing a fourth-and-3 play near the end of the first quarter, the Rams went for it and Bradford threw incomplete. The Packers got the ball back and gambled on fourth down as well, going for it on fourth-and-1 at the 50. James Starks burst through the line for a 15-yard gain.
Rodgers showed his mastery of play action on the next play, faking a handoff to Starks on the right side, rolling to his left and delivering a perfect pass to Jones in the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown and 10-0 lead.
After a Rams punt pinned the Packers at their own 7, Rodgers got the best of former teammate Al Harris on his big play to Nelson. Rodgers got the veteran cornerback to bite on a fake and then threw a rainbow to the wide-open Nelson for an easy score and a 17-0 lead.
Harris was impressed by his former team, calling them the best in the league.
”Personally, I think they are,” Harris said. ”We would have loved to beat them, but they played well.”
Rodgers put together another drive toward the end of the second quarter, capitalizing on the threat of his running ability to finish it off. On second-and-goal at the 7, Rodgers appeared to make a run for the end zone – then pulled up and flipped the ball to Driver for a touchdown with 1:51 left before halftime.
After a 36-yard field goal by Josh Brown, Green Bay led 24-3 at the half.
”They drove the ball on us a little bit,” Charles Woodson said. ”But you keep a team out of the end zone, you’ve done a great job.”
Notes: Wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker and linebacker Ben Leber were inactive for St. Louis. Neither player was listed on the team’s injury report this week. ”We weren’t trying to send any messages,” Spagnuolo said. ”We just put out the guys out there that we thought would help us win the game.” … Rodgers threw his third interception of the season, a tipped ball in the fourth quarter. … It was the Packers’ last home game for nearly a month.