Packers bounce back, improve to 5-1 with 35-20 victory over Texans
With a week to sit on their lone letdown this season, the Green Bay Packers' offense found the perfect defense to rebound Sunday in Houston.
The Packers recovered nicely with a 35-20 drubbing of the Texans. They scored early and often, building a 21-0 halftime lead. At that point, the Texans had run only 24 plays.
The Texans entered as the NFL’s 30th-ranked defense in yards, and one of nine defenses in the league allowing at least 30 points this season. It must have made for easy decisions with left tackle David Bakhtiari and running back Aaron Jones. Two of the Packers’ top players, Bakhtiari and Jones were held out of Sunday’s game, but coach Matt LaFleur’s offense didn’t skip a beat.
Here are five observations:
Davante Adams dominates
In a remake of Week 1, Aaron Rodgers was quite good Sunday. But Davante Adams was great. The Texans could not cover the Packers' top receiver, who ran roughshod all over their secondary. Adams finished with 13 catches for a career-high 196 yards and two touchdowns, threatening the single-game catch record of 14 he with shares with legendary Don Hutson in this season’s opener at Minnesota. Adams was especially dangerous on third down. He caught seven passes for 124 yards and both touchdowns on third down, converting all six into first downs.
Rodgers in Houston
Rodgers’ exploits inside Dallas' AT&T Stadium, where he led the Packers to a Super Bowl XLV victory, are well known. On a lesser scale, because of fewer trips to an AFC opponent, Rodgers has been similarly dominant inside Houston’s NRG Stadium. Sunday was Rodgers’ second trip to Houston, where he completed 24 of 37 passes for 338 yards, six touchdowns, no interceptions and a 133.7 rating in 2012. On Sunday, Rodgers completed 23 of 34 passes for 283 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 132.4 rating. His 47-for-71 passing for 621 yards, 10 touchdowns, no interceptions and 133.2 rating in two games are hard for any quarterback to beat in any building.
Next man up
Jamaal Williams was thrust into the starting backfield with Aaron Jones resting his strained calf, and he did his best to mimic the Packers star running back who usually overshadows him. It’s not that Williams was as dynamic as Jones, one of the NFL’s top playmakers. But Williams showcased his dual-threat ability, a skill set he shares in common with Jones. Williams had 19 carries for 77 yards on the ground, and he added four catches for 37 yards. Williams ended his day with a 1-yard touchdown run, giving the Packers a 35-13 lead. In all, the Packers were able to get more than 100 yards of offense from their top tailback, and do it while resting their starter. It’s a luxury many NFL teams don’t have.
No sacks, no problem
Sacks are still eluding Preston Smith, who is stuck on a half sack this season after having a dozen last season. He also plays for a position coach in Mike Smith who knows there’s much more to production at the position than sacks. With that in mind, Preston Smith had a dominant day. It started early with Smith snuffing out David Johnson on a third-and-1 run. In the fourth quarter, Smith made the game’s pivotal play when he read an option play perfectly and tackled Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson behind the line of scrimmage for lost yardage on fourth-and-one. Smith had just three tackles on the day, one for loss. No sacks. No official quarterback hits, though he did help pressure Watson on Za’Darius Smith’s sixth sack of the season. But Preston Smith made a big difference for the Packers defensive front.
Since taking over as the Packers special teams coordinator last season, Shawn Mennenga has done much to clean up those units that were ravaged with unforced errors under former coordinator Ron Zook. Mennenga will have more to clean up this week after the Texans blocked a JK Scott punt, leading to a field goal, and recovered a late onside kick.