Rare fast start puts game away early
This Green Bay-Carolina game was decided by the end of the first quarter.
Though no one on the field of play was about to concede anything, history suggested the outcome had been determined 15 minutes into the game. Early dominance as displayed by the Packers on Sunday always had resulted in victory in the past.
Green Bay jumped on the Panthers early and often in cruising to a 38-17 win at Lambeau Field. Carolina didn't reach the end zone until less than 10 minutes remained.
The Packers outplayed the Panthers in just about every way possible in the first quarter. They outgained their opponent 172 yards to 5 yards. They piled up 12 first downs while permitting one.
Tim Masthay didn't punt once. His counterpart, Brad Nortman, had three boots.
The Panthers had minus-12 yards on three third-down plays. Cam Newton threw incomplete, linebacker Nick Perry sacked Newton, and Sean Richardson and Morgan Burnett held running back Jonathan Stewart to no gain just before the quarter ended.
The Packers ran up against that key down only once. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers converted with a 3-yard scramble.
Rodgers directed scoring drives of 80, 56 and 62 yards. Newton was at the helm on three possessions that netted 3, minus-7 and 9 yards.
Carolina never got past its 33-yard line. Green Bay ran nine plays beyond the 50.
Jordy Nelson scored on a 59-yard pass from Rodgers. Eddie Lacy and James Starks had touchdown runs of 5 and 13 yards as the Packers posted 21 first-quarter points.
Scoring 20 or more points in any quarter has been good to the Packers. They've done it 105 times since 1921 and lost just 10 times in doing so.
For Green Bay, the first quarter has been toughest in which to hit 20. Sunday was just the 12th time it has happened.
The Packers are 12-0 in those games.
With 21 points Sunday, Green Bay has scored 66 points in that period this season. It had 78 in that quarter all last season.
The poorest quarter for scoring under coach Mike McCarthy has been the first. In order, his teams have scored 782, 1,053, 825 and 944 points in the various quarters.
The 2011 team was his most proficient. That team tallied 132 first-quarter points on its way to a 15-1 record.
But Green Bay may be starting to figure out how to reach the end zone early. The Packers have scored touchdowns on their first possession in two straight games and three times this season.
The Packers previously scored 21 first-quarter points under McCarthy on two occasions. Rodgers tossed three TD passes in a 42-34 season-opening win over the Saints in 2011. Two months later, Charlie Peprah and Tramon Williams each had a pick-six to go with a Rodgers scoring pass as Green Bay held off San Diego 45-38.
Curly Lambeau is the only other Packers coach to have his team score 20 or more points in three first quarters. Hurdis McCrary (34-yard run), Wuert Engelmann (23-yard reception) and Lavvie Dilweg (50-yard interception return) produced the first in team history in a 27-12 win over the Frankford Yellow Jackets on Oct. 12, 1930.
The margin by which Green Bay outgained Carolina in the first quarter (+167) was its third best since 2006. The Packers were better in a 16-13 loss to the Redskins (+185) in 2010 and in a 27-20 loss to the Bears (+171) in 2007.