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Eric Goska column: Packers reach 2,500 yards at near-record pace

Oct. 20, 2013
 

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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) shouts instructions to his players in the first quarter during Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media

Hitting 2,500 Early

Fewest offensive plays needed by the Packers to reach or surpass 2,500 yards gained in a season.

No. YearRecord
363201115-1
37819838-8
38420134-2
388196111-3
392198910-6

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The Cleveland Browns are no longer No. 1.

The Green Bay Packers likely aren’t either.

Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field between the most stubborn defense and most efficient offense in terms of yards per play ended pretty much in a draw. The Browns allowed a full yard more per play than their season average, while the Packers were off their mark by a tad more.

What the Browns couldn’t do was prevent Green Bay from reaching 2,500 yards faster than all but two clubs in Packers history.

Aaron Rodgers and his banged-up offense amassed a season-low 357 yards in defeating Cleveland 31-13. They required 66 plays to achieve that total for an average of 5.41 yards per play.

Prior to Sunday, the Packers were clipping along at an NFL-best 6.74 yards per play. After tangling with Cleveland, that number dropped to 6.52, which may push Green Bay behind the Denver Broncos.

The Browns had been holding opponents to 4.40 yards per play. They depart Wisconsin with that having risen to 4.54, a number greater than that (4.52) of the Seahawks.

Through six games, Green Bay has gained 2,608 yards. It became just the fifth Packers team to surpass 2,500 in fewer than 400 plays.

Hitting that milestone can come on a routine, nondescript play such as MacArthur Lane gaining a yard in the third quarter of Green Bay’s 30-10 win over the Saints on Dec. 2, 1973. Or it can occur on a more exciting play such as Lynn Dickey’s 57-yard bomb to James Lofton in a playoff-clinching 38-7 win over the Falcons in 1982.

On Sunday, it was Rodgers hitting tight end Jermichael Finley with a 15-yard completion late in the third quarter. The gain was the longest of a drive that ended with a Tim Masthay punt.

Big plays were hard to come by against Cleveland. Eddie Lacy had but one run of more than 12 yards, that on a drive he capped with a 1-yard TD run late in the first quarter that gave Green Bay a 14-0 lead.

Rodgers averaged just 10.4 yards per completion. He managed three completions of 20 or more yards: a 39-yarder to Jarrett Boykin, a 26-yard connection with Finley and a 20-yard TD toss to Boykin.

Coming up short

Brandon Weeden probably considers his first trip to Lambeau Field less than memorable. But the Browns quarterback did establish one record: he became the first opposing quarterback to throw 40 or more passes at the Packers yet fail to gain 150 yards passing.

Diminutive Davey O’Brien of the Eagles was the first to hit this mark against Green Bay, doing so with 40 attempts in a 27-20 season-opening loss at City Stadium in 1940. In the years since, it has happened another 110 times.

Weeden completed 17 passes in 42 attempts for a paltry 149 yards. His longest completion was his first, a 19-yarder to receiver Greg Little.

His low yardage total broke the previous record of 158 yards set by Scott Mitchell. The Lions quarterback managed that in 47 attempts as Detroit fell 20-10 to Green Bay on Nov. 2, 1997.

Weeden was wild early. He connected on just two of his first 11 throws. His seventh attempt was intercepted by cornerback Davon House.

The quarterback settled down for much of the second and third quarters. But he struggled again in the final 15 minutes, completing just 7 of 22 throws for 67 yards.

Four other quarterbacks attempted 40 or more passes against Green Bay without completing at least one throw of 20 or more yards. The last: Tom Brady with a long of 18 yards in a 28-10 loss on Oct. 13, 2002.

aegoska@sbcglobal.net

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