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Monday, Sept. 16, 2013

Rodgers, Jones Set Records as Packers Best Washington 38-20 in Home Opener

Looking Pack: Week Two

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Jim Biever / Packers.com
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Even considering quarterback Robert Griffin III was playing only his second game (preseason or otherwise) following offseason surgery to repair a torn ACL incurred in the playoffs January; even with Washington playing on the road on a short week of rest after being dismantled by the Philadelphia Eagles Monday night, most Packers fans figured Green Bay was in for a challenge Sunday. However, by the time the teams returned to their locker rooms, the Packers had embarrassed RG3 and company and achieved career bests in the process.

And that was just the first half.

Hoping to atone for last week’s disappointing loss in San Francisco, Green Bay took its opening drive down within Washington’s 10-yard line before consecutive sacks forced the Packers to settle for a 28-yard Mason Crosby field goal. Along the way, rookie running back Eddie Lacy was knocked out of the game due a concussion sustained in a helmet-to-helmet hit by Brandon Meriweather (who, himself, was injured while leading with his helmet on a tackle later in the game).

With the lead in hand, the Packers never looked back. Aaron Rodgers put the Pack up 10-0 near the end of the first quarter with a 35-yard strike to Randall Cobb. He continued his mastery with a 14-yard connection to Jordy Nelson and a three-yarder to Jermichael Finley to put Green Bay up 24-0 at the half. Though he didn’t find the end zone (though he fumbled a ball into the pylon for a touchback just before halftime), James Jones totally made up for his Bay Area goose egg last Sunday with nine receptions for 152 yards by the end of the second quarter. Jones’ great half helped pad his quarterback’s best half ever—335 yards and a trio of TDs.

Firmly ahead, the Packers eased off the pass attack in the second half. The 24-point lead (and the Packers offensive line) opened up the way for Eddie Lacy’s replacement, James Starks, to snap Green Bay’s sorry streak of games without a 100-yard rusher at 44 games. Starks was in his Super Bowl-season form. He tallied 132 rushing yards on the day (77 in the second half), highlighted by a 32-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter.

Washington’s offense woke up eventually. RG3 found Pierre Garçon for a six-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 31-7. Garçon padded his stats with eight grabs for 143 yards. That yardage accounted for a good portion of Griffin’s quietly impressive 320-yard, three-touchdown afternoon (the other two went to veteran wideout Santana Moss and rookie tight end Jordan Reed). Additionally, D.C. running back Alfred Morris had 107 yards on the ground. However, most of Washington’s delayed production was when Green Bay’s defense was in bend-don’t-break mode. The 38-20 final score doesn’t accurately tell the story of Green Bay’s worry-free route.

Even with the turned-down second half tempo, Green Bay managed to rack up various personal and team accolades. The 580 combined Packers yards was the most the team accumulated since 1962. Rodgers tied his personal high in completions with 34 and tied his former understudy Matt Flynn’s Packers single-game record of 480 passing yards. Jones’ 11 receptions and 178 receiving yards were both personal bests, as was Randall Cobb’s 128 receiving yards. After a rough loss last week, Green Bay couldn’t have done much more Sunday to right its ship, establish a long-absent running game and show the receiving corps was just fine without Greg Jennings. Hopefully that momentum continues next week, when the Pack plays its third reigning playoff team in a row.


Player Of The Game (Offense) – Aaron Rodgers

The nod could’ve easily gone to Starks, Jones or Nelson instead had Rodgers not had the best statistical performance of his career.

Player Of The Game (Defense/Special Teams) – Mike Neal

The defense wasn’t flashy (especially in the second half), but it didn’t need to be. Nobody particularly stood out, so Neal’s two solo tackles and interception take the cake.

Up next: At Cincinnati Bengals at noon on Sunday, September 22.

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