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Eric Goska column: Opening drive TDs find the Green Bay Packers down but not out

Nov. 6, 2011
 

Down but not out

Most deficits of seven or more points the Packers have overcome on the road in one season (regular-season games only).

No. Year Deficits overcome
4 2011 (13, 14, 7, 7)
3 1941 (7, 7, 17)
3 1967 (10, 7, 7)
3 1990 (11, 10, 11)
3 2004 (10, 7, 7)
2 1956 (10, 11)
2 1972 (17, 7)
2 1985 (11, 14)
2 1986 (14, 11)
2 2001 (7, 15)

More

These Green Bay Packers donít get down when theyíre down on the road.

For a third consecutive time the Packers found themselves behind by a touchdown in a game away from Lambeau Field. For a third straight time, the team picked itself up and rallied for a hard-fought victory.

Behind 7-0 before the first quarter was even five minutes old, the Green and Gold reeled off six touchdowns Ė each one vital Ė to engineer a 45-38 come-from-behind win over the stubborn San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. In doing so, the team improved to 5-0 on the road this season.

Winning on the road is tough enough without spotting the competition an early lead. But thatís what the Packers did as Philip Rivers needed but eight plays to move the Chargers 80 yards on the first drive of the game.

Rivers didnít look like a quarterback whose play has come into question on that opening advance. He completed three passes without a miss including a 23-yarder to wide receiver Vincent Jackson in the end zone with 10 minutes, 32 seconds left in the quarter.

It was the third straight road game in which Green Bay has given up a touchdown on the opening drive. All three scores came on passing plays.

But as was the case in Minnesota (down 7-0) and Atlanta (down 14-0), the Packers didnít get discouraged. Instead, Aaron Rodgers piloted the offense to four touchdowns while defensive coordinator Dom Capersí defense came through with two TDs of its own.

Rodgers completed touchdown passes to Jermichael Finley, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Greg Jennings. The one to Finley tied the score 7-7 with 5:40 to go in the first quarter.

Those scores pushed to 24 the number of TD throws Rodgers has this season. Thatís the most by a Packers player in the first eight games of a season.

The athletic quarterback also used his feet. He rushed for 49 yards on four carries and accounted for three of the teamís five rushing first downs in the opening two quarters.

Rodgersí final TD pass went to Jennings early in the fourth quarter. It gave Green Bay its biggest lead at 45-24.

While Rodgers got the offense moving, Charlie Peprah and Tramon Williams played takeaway. Each returned an interception for a touchdown as Green Bay took a 21-7 lead late in the first quarter.

Peprah intercepted Rivers first. The safety grabbed a pass intended for tight end Antonio Gates and raced 40 yards to paydirt and a 14-7 Packers lead.

Williams followed suit on the Chargersí next drive. He jumped in front of wide receiver Patrick Crayton and dashed 43 yards untouched to the end zone.

Peprah and Williams are the 14th Packers duo to return interceptions for scores in the same game. They are the first to both do so in the first quarter.

Even with the early turnovers and another great outing by Rodgers (145.8 passer rating), Green Bay didnít ice the game until Peprah came through with a second interception on the second-to-last play of the game.

Peprah returned his second pick 76 yards to reach the Chargersí 6-yard line. From there, Rodgers kneeled to end the game.

The Packers have not overcome deficits of seven or more points in three consecutive road games in nearly 70 years. Curly Lambeauís 1941 team closed out with victories over the Steelers (down 7-0) and Redskins (down 17-0), then toppled the Cardinals (down 13-3) at Comiskey Park during its first road trip of 1942.

The 2011 Packers are the first outfit in team history to have overcome four deficits of 7-or more points on the road. They erased a 13-0 disadvantage against the Panthers to forge a 30-23 win at Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 18.

Extra point
Since 1921, the Packers are 14-0 in games in which they returned two interceptions for touchdowns.

Extra point
Vincent Jackson had five catches for 107 yards in the first quarter. That's the most receiving yards posted by an individual against the Packers in the opening quarter of a game since the Colts' Reggie Wayne had 112 yards on seven receptions in Indianapolis's 45-31 victory over Green Bay on Sept. 26, 2004.

Eric Goska is a Press-Gazette correspondent, a Packers historian and the author of "Green Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness," a statistical history of the Packers. Email him at aegoska@sbcglobal.net.

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