A grand quarter
Since 1950, the most yards gained by the Packers in the first quarters of their first nine games of the season.
Yds Avg/play Year Record
1,021 7.79 2010 6-3
920 7.19 1961 7-2
911 5.95 1981 3-6
896 6.69 2003 4-5
871 6.13 1964 5-4
858 6.36 2002 8-1
850 5.31 1995 5-4
841 5.80 1987 3-5-1
823 6.86 1983 4-5
821 6.84 2007 8-1
Whether Broadway play, Elizabethan novel or foreign film, a great beginning can captivate, leaving an audience wanting more.
The Green Bay Packers have been opening strong, piling up yards in the first quarter at a pace not seen in the past 60 years. Though not their most impressive opening, the Packers did enough against the Dallas Cowboys to establish a new standard while foreshadowing greater things to come.
Aaron Rodgers and the offense held the ball for more than 10 minutes in the opening act of Green Bay’s 45-7 rout of the Cowboys. Though the unit came away with no points in the opening quarter, the offense was poised to pull the trigger on a 28-point second-quarter onslaught that stunned Dallas.
The Packers ran 18 plays and gained 84 yards in the first quarter. Its first drive ended in a blocked Mason Crosby field goal attempt and its second reached the Cowboys’ 15-yard line as the period ended.
In between, Rodgers hinted he might have a big night by completing his first five throws. He was 6 of 7 for 37 yards with his only misfire coming on a deep ball meant for Jordy Nelson.
James Jones gave an indication he came to play. After fumbling his first catch – recovered by Nelson – the wide receiver went high to haul in a pass in front of cornerback Bryan McCann.
Green Bay even dropped a clue or two that it might string together some long drives. The offense used 12 plays and seven and a half minutes to set up Crosby’s miss.
In their first eight games this year, the Packers generated 937 first-quarter yards. That output dwarfed the production of the second (546 yards), third (641) and fourth (564) quarters.
Factor in its haul against the Cowboys and Green Bay has produced 1,021 yards in that period. In the last 60 years the team had never earned more than 920 yards through nine games.
Many of these yards came via the big play. Prior to Sunday, 11 of the Packers’ 15 longest plays occurred in the first quarter.
Green Bay twice gained 200 or more yards in the opening 15 minutes. They ripped off 209 yards in a 16-13 overtime loss to the Redskins and they got 200 yards in defeating Minnesota 28-24.
The first quarter was far from the Packers’ most productive Sunday night. The team piled up 172 yards in the second quarter and another 134 in the third.
But the opening period paved the way for Rodgers to compile his first triple-digit passer rating (131.5) in more than a month. It provided a platform for Jones to snag a career-best 8 catches. And it set the tone for an offense that maintained possession for 37:56 and punted but twice.
Look, Ma, no turnovers
For the second week in a row, Green Bay played turnover-free football. Because of that, for a second straight week Green Bay’s opponent had no opportunity to score points as the result of a turnover.
This is the fifth time under coach Mike McCarthy that the Packers have strung together back-to-back games without losing the ball. The team is protecting the ball, Jones’ first-quarter fumble nonwithstanding.
But perhaps more remarkable is that fact that even when the competition has gotten a takeaway, it’s done little in the way of scoring. Green Bay has committed 13 turnovers and its opponents have turned those miscues into just 18 points.
There’s not a touchdown to be found among those six field goals. In each of the previous 75 years, Green Bay’s opponents scored at least one touchdown as the result of a turnover in the first nine games of a season.
Green Bay’s 18 points surrendered as the result of turnovers is its lowest since the 1964 club permitted just 13 points in its first nine games.