Rodgers rolls, Packers rout Panthers 38-17
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The milestones keep piling up during what is turning into a special first half of the season for Aaron Rodgers.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback threw for three touchdowns and 255 yards in a 38-17 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The up-tempo offense rolled to touchdowns on its first three drives, effectively grounding the Panthers' running game and mobile quarterback Cam Newton.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Rodgers' early-season run is that he went a sixth straight game without an interception, tying Bart Starr for the franchise record set in 1964.
Rodgers finished Sunday with a quarterback rating of 154.5, and the Packers said he was the second player in NFL history with a rating of 150 or more in two of the first seven games of the season. New England's Tom Brady also did it in 2007.
Coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers is much better than three seasons ago. Rodgers thought he could do more.
''It's a lot more efficient,'' Rodgers said about the offense. ''We're still not hitting some of our yardage and plays-per-game goals, but we're being very efficient.''
Carolina coach Ron Rivera saw more than enough.
''It's a well-developed offense. They have great communication,'' Rivera said. ''That's what Aaron Rodgers has developed with his players.''
Rodgers also threw off Carolina's communication. The quarterback's snap count led to early penalties for the Panthers.
Carolina had pushed Green Bay (5-2) back to third-and-12 on the Packers 28 on the first drive when the Panthers were whistled for two straight 5-yard penalties. Rodgers scrambled for three yards on third-and-2 before finding Jordy Nelson for a 59-yard touchdown pass.
Carolina (3-3-1) gave Green Bay too many second chances.
''You've got to understand when his snap count is and when he's trying to go,'' safety Roman Harper said. ''We didn't do that at all today, and because of that we got our butts whipped.''
Green Bay's next drive ended with Lacy high-stepping into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 5:53 left in the first quarter. The Panthers helped on that series after getting caught with too many men on the field on third-and-3 to give the Packers a first down.
Some other notable takeaways from Green Bay's fourth straight victory:
GROUNDED: Newton, who had a career-high 17 carries last week, had 41 yards rushing on seven attempts. Even with running back Jonathan Stewart back, Green Bay's big early lead forced Carolina to veer away from the run and specifically the option runs designed for Newton.
''It was good to see, especially knowing that we might see a few more of these teams in the near future,'' linebacker Clay Matthews said. We are glad we got that and forced them to be one-dimensional.''
Stewart finished with 55 yards on 14 carries.
FRUSTRATED: Newton passed for 205 yards and a 13-yard score in the fourth quarter. It hardly mattered with Green Bay leading by 25 at the half and 35 after three quarters. Carolina went three-and-out on its first three drives.
''It's frustrating when you're sitting on the sidelines and you self-evaluate yourself,'' Newton said. ''What I did wasn't good enough.''
The Packers sacked Newton three times and got credit for four hurries. Julius Peppers had 1 1-2 sacks against the team that drafted him in 2002.
Matthews split one of those sacks with Peppers, the first time Matthews got credit for taking down a quarterback since Week 2. He was also penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play.
''I'll take the half-sack. As many times as I was back there, I'll take what I can get,'' Matthews said.
EJECTED: Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly was ejected late in the third quarter. Last season's Defensive Player of the Year swung his arms and seemed agitated as he was restrained from behind by back judge Steve Freeman following a scramble for a fumble recovered by the Packers.
The linebacker calmed down when he turned around and saw the official, who threw a flag. Kuechly said he didn't mean to do it.
HURT: The Panthers' Turner left with a knee injury, and Bell had an elbow injury. Receiver Philly Brown left in the second half with a concussion. For the Packers, running back James Starks left the game with a left ankle injury, and CB Davon House was forced out by a finger injury.
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