Aaron Rodgers leads Packers past Washington 24-10 for sixth straight victory
GREEN BAY - With a short-week test at the NFL’s lone remaining undefeated team upcoming, the Green Bay Packers mostly slogged through an overcast afternoon at Lambeau Field.
Fortunately for them, it was more than enough to beat the lowly Washington Football Team, 24-10.
The Packers cruised to a 6-1 record with their sixth straight victory, tying their longest winning streak in three seasons under coach Matt LaFleur. It was far from crisp, but the Packers were never in any real danger throughout the second half.
With Washington out of the way, the Packers will move onto a marquee matchup Thursday night at the Arizona Cardinals, who were 6-0 going into their game Sunday vs. Houston. It will be one of the NFL’s biggest matchups through the first half of this season, pitting two of the NFC’s top contenders in prime time. First, though, the Packers had to get through Washington.
Here are some observations from Sunday’s win:
Rodgers’ legs hit and miss
At this point in his career, Aaron Rodgers’ scrambling ability comes and goes — but it’s still there. Rodgers proved it on Sunday’s opening drive, which might have been his finest this season. The 37-year-old quarterback picked up 15 yards with a scramble up the middle on third-and-11 to extend the possession. The drive ended when Rodgers scrambled right buying time, then finding Davante Adams open across the field through a maze of Washington defenders for an electric 17-yard touchdown. Rodgers doesn’t always have the juice in his legs, which showed on back-to-back plays in the second quarter. On first-and-10 from the Washington 14, Rodgers stepped up in the pocket and tried to scramble through an open middle field. Instead, he was caught and sacked. On the next play, Rodgers scrambled left but tripped over his own feet when he tried to turn on the jets. So while Rodgers is still capable of making plays with his legs, something he said he hopes to always be able to do, it’s not as consistent as it used to be. The reigning NFL MVP finished 27-of-35 passing for 274 yards, three touchdowns and a 127.6 rating.
Offense finds red-zone remedy
Perhaps the biggest culprit in the Packers’ red-zone slump this season has been the lack of scoring plays from Adams and Robert Tonyan. A year ago, Adams and Tonyan set franchise records for touchdowns in a season for a receiver and tight end, scoring 29 combined. Of those, 21 came within the red zone. Adams and Tonyan entered Sunday with only three touchdowns combined, but they each got a red-zone touchdown against Washington. Adams opened the scoring with a 17-yard touchdown catch on the Packers’ first drive. In the third quarter, Tonyan scored on a 20-yard touchdown catch to the right corner. It was the first time this season Adams and Tonyan scored in the same game. Adams continued climbing in the record books Sunday. He surpassed Sterling Sharpe for second on the franchise’s all-time receptions list with 598, behind only Donald Driver’s 743. His touchdown catch was also the 65th of his career, tying Sharpe for second most in franchise history.
Allen Lazard has big day in complementary role
The Packers have needed to find another receiving weapon to complement Adams over the past few weeks. With Marquez Valdes-Scantling out, Allen Lazard seemed to be the most likely candidate. Lazard finally snapped out of a drought, catching five passes for 60 yards for a touchdown. All of his catches and yards came in one drive before halftime, breaking a 7-all tie before the break. Before Sunday, Lazard’s most catches in a game this season were five last week at Chicago, and his most receiving yards were 42 at San Francisco.
Cornerback Eric Stokes' growing pains
The knock on Eric Stokes entering the draft was that he did not play the football enough as a cornerback at Georgia. Stokes has played the football better than advertised so far as a rookie, but he had a relapse early Sunday. On a 40-yard pass from Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke to Terry McLaurin, Stokes was in position for good coverage but never turned his head to play the football. The result was an unexpected touchdown catch to tie the game at 7. Stokes rebounded with a big pass breakup against McLaurin on a fourth-and-3 stop route near the left sideline with 3:03 left before halftime, ending a Washington drive at Green Bay’s 27-yard line. Those are the type of plays Stokes has made more regularly in his rookie season.
Defense finally makes red-zone stop
It has gotten difficult to tell what exactly a touchdown is anymore. In the third quarter, it appeared Heinicke scored two touchdowns on consecutive plays. On the first, Heinicke dove forward near the goal line and rolled across untouched for what would have been a 3-yard touchdown, but it was ruled Heinicke gave himself up. Because his knee touched the ground before the football crossed the goal line, Heinicke was ruled to have not scored, although he was untouched. On the ensuing fourth-and-1, Heinicke fumbled as he attempted a quarterback sneak. He picked up his own fumble while still off the ground and reached across the goal line with the football, but was ruled to have been tackled. On both plays, Heinicke broke the goal line with the football without being touched, but neither counted as a touchdown. It happened to be the Packers’ first red-zone stop this season — in their opponent’s 16th red-zone trip through the first seven games — so Joe Barry’s defense gladly took the help. They went on to make three more red-zone stops in the game.