Another A.R. picked up a rushing touchdown for the Packers as Aaron Ripkowski tallied the first one this season for Green Bay by a running back.
The math didn’t really add up for the Green Bay Packers heading into their Monday-night tilt with the Philadelphia Eagles.
They hadn’t won on the road since Week 1.
The Eagles hadn’t lost at home, period.
Linebackers Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez were missing.
Offensive linemen T.J. Lang and JC Tretter were missing too.
Fortunately for the Packers, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a way of making such storylines moot.
Rodgers topped 300 passing yards for the third straight game, tossing two touchdown passes to wide receiver Davante Adams to lead the Packers to a 27-13 win over the Eagles.
SUNDAY SCHOOL (ON MONDAY)
— Rodgers went 30-for-39, throwing for 313 yards and spreading the ball around. He completed passes to eight receivers, including fullback Aaron Ripkowski and little-used receiver Jeff Janis. In the first half, Philadelphia kept playing well off the ball and Rodgers took advantage, constantly throwing quick, easy short passes.
— After targeting tight end Jared Cook heavily in the big-bodied tight end’s return to the field last week Rodgers looked elsewhere against the Eagles. Cook had just one catch for seven yards.
— With Ryan inactive, Clay Matthews suited up at inside linebacker, notching four solo tackles and a sack.
— Linebacker Jayrone Elliott almost botched Jake Schum’s near-perfect punt nearly the end of the first half. He slid as the ball came to a stop near 1-yard line and nearly turned the play into a touchback, but the 43-yarder would hold up on review, with Elliott stopping just shy of the goal line.
— Rodgers limped off after being hit behind the line of scrimmage in the third quarter but didn’t miss any time. He appeared to be outfitted with some extra padding on the leg in the second half.
— Social media darling (we don’t get it either) Christine Michael made his Packers debut, rushing just once and picking up four yards.
— Running back James Starks logged 68 yards from scrimmage, rushing 17 times for 41 yards and grabbing five catches for 27 yards. His numbers weren’t particularly inspiring, but the Packers didn’t see much need to run Michael either.
— Matthews is probably ready to move back outside. He was leveled by Allen Barbre in the first quarter as the veteran linebacker tracked Bryce Treggs on an end around. Barbre unloaded a vicious hit on Matthews to help Philadelphia pick up a big first down. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz would score his first rushing touchdown just a few plays later, while Matthews would head to the locker room with a shoulder injury.
— Adams has more than doubled his touchdown total from a season ago, and now has eight after putting up just three last season.
— Julius Peppers tied Michael Strahan for fifth on the all-time sacks list late in the game, motoring around Allen (does Clay Matthews owe him dinner now?) and hauling Wentz down. He now has 141 1/2 career sacks, and is just nine away from Chris Doleman, who ranks No. 4 all-time with 150 1/2.
— Another Packers streak came to an end Monday. Ripkowski became the first Packers running back to score a rushing touchdown this season, and is now the only Packers player not named Rodgers to rush for a score this season (although, ironically, both have the same initials).
WHAT IT MEANT
Miraculously, the Packers are still alive in the NFC North. With the Minnesota Vikings floundering once again following another loss to the Detroit Lions, Green Bay could move into a tie for second with a win over the lowly Houston Texans this week. The Vikings take on the red-hot Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, while the Lions face the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday, giving the Packers a big opportunity to gain some ground in a division that is suddenly wide open.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Sorry, Jordy Nelson, Rodgers has a new favorite target. Adams racked up 113 yards and two touchdowns on five catches, leading the Packers in receiving yards. It’s the third time this season Adams has topped 100 receiving yards, and his second multi-touchdown affair, following the Packers’ 26-10 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 7. Nelson actually led the team with eight receptions, picking up 91 yards, but Adams was Rodgers’ guy in the end zone.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
Both teams' offensive lines were beat up, but Green Bay's held up better. Much better. Rodgers was barely pressured — Philadelphia was credited with just two quarterback hurries and had no sacks. Even with Rodgers limited due to a sore hamstring in the second half, the Eagles couldn't get to the quarterback. Due credit to the offensive line, a position often overlooked, but it shouldn't be, especially in this game.
Late in the third quarter, the Packers were leading 17-13 and faced a third-and-4. Rodgers threw incomplete for Cook, but Philadelphia's Fletcher Cox was called for roughing the passer, giving Green Bay new life. The Packers would convert three more third downs on the drive, including a 23-yard pass from Adams to Rodgers to the 3 to set up Ripkowski's TD. Instead of the Eagles getting the ball back with a chance to take the lead, instead Green Bay took a comfortable two-score lead.
THEY SAID IT
“Winning is very difficult in this league, and we haven't had the feeling in five weeks. We missed it. It felt good. It's a product of December football. We're getting ready to go into the toughest days of the season, and you need these wins.” — head coach Mike McCarthy
“There's a big difference between 4-7 and 5-6 for sure, but I hope there's not a ton of relief because we still have a lot of things in front of us we'd like to accomplish. This is a step in the right direction, a game we needed to take care of business, but we have a short week with Houston coming in and we have to have a similar performance.” — quarterback Aaron Rodgers
“When Aaron gets in a rhythm and he starts finding guys … and making great throws, that's the offense we're accustomed to having.” — tackle Brian Bulaga
The Packers have six days to prepare for the Texans, the league’s No. 29-ranked offense. Quarterback Brock Osweiler has been miserable this season, but Houston still boasts one of the league’s best defenses. Despite losing defensive end J.J. Watt, the Texans are allowing just 316.7 total yards per game, and are limiting opposing passers to 209.2 yards.