Packers withstand Rivers, Chargers

Stu Courtney
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San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throws late in the fourth quarter.

The Green Bay Packers will carry an unbeaten record into their bye week after withstanding an aerial assault from the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers and a defense that stood tall at the end guided the Packers to a 27-20 victory that boosted their record to 6-0 before a regular-season record crowd of 78,434 fans at Lambeau Field.

Rodgers completed 16 of 29 passes for 255 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. With a fourth-quarter, 12-yard completion to Eddie Lacy, Rodgers surpassed the 30,000 career passing mark on his 3,652nd attempt, faster than anyone in NFL history (Johnny Unitas did it in 3,698).

That was enough to offset a spectacular day by Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who hit on 43 of 65 passes for 503 yards, two TDs and no interceptions.

The Chargers had a chance to tie it in the final seconds, but rookie cornerback Damarious Randall broke up a fourth-down pass in the end zone from the Green Bay 3 to preserve the victory.

The Packers scored first when Rodgers fed a shovel pass to running back James Starks for a five-yard touchdown at the 8:38 mark of the first quarter. It capped an eight-play, 87-yard drive that opened with a 25-yard run by Starks, who got the start over Lacy.

San Diego (2-4) responded with a 14-play, 62-yard drive that produced a 36-yard field goal by Josh Lambo. The drive featured a 25-yard run around right end by former Wisconsin star Melvin Gordon.

Starks scored again on the Packers’ second drive, this time bouncing off a pile on the left side of the line and cutting back down the right side for a 65-yard TD to make it 14-3. It was the Packers’ longest run of the season and tied for their longest scoring play (with Rodgers’ pass to James Jones last week vs. the Rams). It was the longest run of Starks’ career, his first two-TD game and the Packers’ longest scoring run since 2008.

The Packers’ defense came up with a big stop on the Chargers’ next drive. A fourth-and-three pass from Rivers intended for Antonio Gates was broken up by safety Micah Hyde.

Green Bay pushed it to 17-3 on a 23-yard Mason Crosby field goal with 6:48 to play in the second quarter. The 10-play, 83-yard drive was highlighted by a 46-yard reception on a deep ball to Jeff Janis. Receiver Ty Montgomery suffered an ankle injury during the series and did not return.

Gordon fumbled on the Chargers’ next possession on a hit by safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and linebacker Clay Matthews recovered on the San Diego 34. It was Clinton-Dix’s first career forced fumble and Matthews’ first fumble recovery since 2009. But Rodgers was sacked on the next series and the Packers had to punt.

The Charged scored on the final play of the half to pull within 17-10. On fourth-and-goal from the Green Bay 1, Rivers hit Dontrelle Inman on an end-zone crossing pattern to cap a 12-play, 73-yard drive that consumed 4:47 and kept the ball out of the Packers’ hands.

Allen had 11 first-half receptions for 128 yards. Rivers sliced-and-diced the Packers defense, going 22-for-32 for 211 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

For Green Bay in the first half, Rodgers was 9-for-15 for 123 yards, one TD and no picks. Starks carried four times for 89 yards and a TD, and also had a five-yard TD catch.

After the Packers went three-and-out to open the second half, the Chargers marched 79 yards in eight plays and tied the game at 17 on a 19-yard TD pass from Rivers to Ladarius Green. The big play was a 50-yard Rivers pass to Malcom Floyd on third-and-17 from the San Diego 14.

The Packers quickly regained the lead, with Rodgers hitting James Jones on an eight-yard TD pass at the end of a seven-play, 69-yard drive that took only 2:48. Key plays were a 26-yard pass to a wide-open Cobb and a 19-yard rollout pass to John Kuhn on third-and-3 from the San Diego 32.

Right back came the Chargers, cutting the Packers’ lead to 24-20 on a Lambo 32-yard field goal. It came after Rivers avoided a sack and hit Floyd for a key 16-yard gain to get within range after he’d been sacked by Mike Daniels on the previous play.

Green Bay matched that with a 28-yard field goal by Crosby to push the lead to 27-20 with 2:37 left. The nine-play, 70-yard drive consumed 3:37 and featured a Rodgers shovel pass to Janis for 33 yards.


» The Packers again were without injured wide receiver Davante Adams (sprained ankle) and safety Morgan Burnett (calf), and they were joined on the inactive list by defensive lineman B.J. Raji (groin) and outside linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder).

» The Packers wore their “third jerseys” that honored the teams from 1937-48.

» The Packers have won 13 straight home games (including playoffs), the longest active streak in the league. It ties for their longest home streak under McCarthy (they also won 13 straight in 2010-11).

» Green Bay now has beaten San Diego seven straight times and leads the series 10-1. Their only loss to the Chargers came in 1984 by a score of 34-28 at Lambeau Field, when San Diego’s quarterback was Dan Fouts and Green Bay’s was Lynn Dickey.

» The Packers have scored in the first quarter in 22 straight games, the longest ongoing streak in the NFL.

» The Packers have won 10 straight October games at Lambeau Field (and 13 of their last 14). Overall, Green Bay has won 19 of their last 21 games in October, including all three this season.

» Randall Cobb extended his streak of regular-season games with at least one reception to 46 with a 12-yard catch in the first quarter. and follow him on Twitter @Stucourt.

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