Packers rally to overcome underdog Jaguars 24-20, improve to 7-2
GREEN BAY - In an effort that was as gray as the overcast sky above, the Green Bay Packers sleepwalked their way to a win Sunday at Lambeau Field.
The Packers got a 6-yard touchdown catch from Davante Adams early in the fourth quarter and held on to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 to raise their record to 7-2.
Here are five takeaways:
Rodgers passes Moon
A third-down completion to Marquez-Valdes Scantling in the second quarter placed Aaron Rodgers in 11th place on the career passing yardage list, passing Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon. Rodgers was not the only Packer to make history Sunday. Adams surpassed Don Hutson for fifth on the Packers’ all-time receptions list, behind only Donald Driver, Sterling Sharpe, Jordy Nelson and James Lofton. But Rodgers continues to climb the all-time NFL ranks. Next up on the career passing yardage leaderboard is John Elway, who finished his career with 51,475 yards. Rodgers completed 24 of 34 passes for 325 yards with two TDs and an interception .
MVS on a hot streak
When Marquez Valdes-Scantling is at his best, he’s a big-play machine. It’s why the Packers have been so patient with their talent yet erratic receiver. His rare combination of size and speed demands grace. MVS is showing why that’s a worthwhile approach to take. His 78-yard touchdown to open the second quarter, in which he beat Jaguars cornerback Sidney Jones IV down the right sideline and used the back judge to shield safety Jarrod Wilson, was just the latest big play this season. It was the second straight game MVS has had a 50-yard touchdown, and his third touchdown of at least 45 yards in 2020. In all, MVS has had a 40-yard reception in four of the Packers’ nine games this season. On Sunday, he did it without a drop. While MVS had only four catches, he finished with 149 yards to cross the century mark for the first time this season. Perhaps it’s something MVS can build on in the season’s second half.
Saving Aaron Jones?
Watching how the Packers dispersed their touches in the backfield Sunday, it’s hard not to wonder if they were saving Jones for the Indianapolis Colts’ ferocious defensive front next week. In most games this season, Jones has not appeared to have any limit on his carries. He had 20 touches, including 15 carries, despite being a game-time decision because of a calf injury on a short week at San Francisco last week. Jones touched the football on the first four snaps in that game, and also when the Packers had a win well in hand in the fourth quarter. On Sunday, Jones split his carries evenly with backup Jamaal Williams, and in fact trailed Williams in touches early. The Jaguars' defense did an admirable job on Jones, who they bottled up for 46 yards on 13 carries. Jones’ touches increased as the game went on, but he never seemed to find a rhythm.
Pass rush steps up
For most of the game, the Packers' pass rush was a one-man show. Za’Darius Smith ended a Jaguars drive in the second half with a sack, his eighth this season. It was one of two quarterback hits for Smith on Sunday. Smith finds himself among the NFL’s leaders in sacks, as he did a year ago in his first season with the Packers. That’s where the similarities end. In 2019, Za’Darius Smith had the luxury of pairing with Preston Smith, who made a perfect complement with 12 sacks. This season, Za’Darius Smith has had no complement in the Packers pass rush. Kingsley Keke was the next closest with two, both coming Week 3 in New Orleans. Rashan Gary was the only other defender with more than one sack, but he has just 1.5. For a defense that has given up fewer yards than last season, the lack of depth in the pass rush has made a big difference. On the Jaguars' final drive, however, Preston Smith and Gary each made a big sack to help seal the victory.
In three punts into the wind during the first quarter, JK Scott averaged 42 yards. His longest was 48. Scott finally got the wind at his back early in the second quarter, and he unleashed a low, line-drive punt that stretched 59 yards. The only problem was he outkicked his coverage. Jaguars returner Keelan Cole Sr. took Scott’s punt 91 yards to the end zone, shaking Scott down the right sideline with a fake juke inside. Considering their problems on special teams Sunday, it’s worth noting the Packers are about to play an Indianapolis Colts team that scored a touchdown on a blocked punt against the Tennessee Titans last week.