ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Rams got off to a solid start Sunday. They just couldn’t keep up when the Green Bay Packers picked up the pace.
Steven Jackson ran for his first touchdown of the year, but Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes to Randall Cobb in the second half to lead Green Bay to a 30-20 victory that was the Rams’ first home loss of the year.
“We came out cold in the third quarter,” St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford said. “We’ve got to do a better job and overcome it.”
After dominating in time of possession in the first half, holding the ball for more than 18 minutes, the Rams (3-4) ran just seven plays in the third quarter and were held to minus-7 yards while the Packers (4-3) had 129 yards and 11:39 in time of possession.
Jordy 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 threw for 342 yards and three TDs in Green Bay’s second consecutive turnover-free game, and the Packers’ depleted defense clamped down on Bradford and the Rams. Rodgers was sacked three times in the first half, but got the ball out a lot quicker the rest of the way.
Rodgers 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.
“They came out with a really good game plan in the second half and executed it and we couldn’t get off the field,” Rams defensive end Chris Long said. “That was really a disappointing stretch.”
Jackson’s first rushing touchdown of the season cut the Packers’ lead to 20-13 midway through the final quarter but Green Bay responded on the next series, with Rodgers throwing a 39-yard scoring strike to Cobb.
“That was par for the course for them,” Long said. “They threw the ball around and played a really good game. You’ve got to take your hat off to them.”
Rodgers was 30 for 37 in his fourth 300-yard game this season. Nelson had eight receptions for a season-best 122 yards.
The Rams will surrender home-field advantage next week when they travel to London to play the Patriots.
“We’ve got a lot to do to get ready to get on this airplane tomorrow afternoon,” St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said.
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 tied the franchise record with six touchdowns and no interceptions. But he was very efficient while leading an offense heavily tilted to the pass game and went 9 for 15 on third down.
“Aaron Rodgers is really good at what he does,” Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis. “He buys enough time with his feet to get receivers open downfield. That’s part of his deal. He’s good at improv. He escapes to make the deep throws.”
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.
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. Bradford threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Austin Pettis with 3 seconds to go.
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.
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.