Packers defense swarms Rams to salvage Rodgers’s off day in win

2:53 | NFL
Packers proving they can win with defense
Sunday October 11th, 2015

Aaron Rodgers threw his first interception at Lambeau Field since December 2012, then threw another. Eddie Lacy ran the ball 13 times for just 27 yards against the Rams’ formidable front. Green Bay’s defense was as responsible for Sunday’s 24–10 win over St. Louis as anything, and although it wasn’t a pretty win, the Packers will certainly take it.

That defense has been improving week by week and could be the primary thing that makes the Packers the lead Super Bowl contender in the NFC. Everyone knows how well the offense runs with Rodgers in charge, but Sunday’s game was a reminder of how crucial it is for Mike McCarthy’s squad to pull out wins when everything isn't firing on that side of the ball.

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Of course, Rams quarterback Nick Foles helped out a lot. Foles threw four interceptions, exhibited his usual issues under pressure, hurried throws and appeared confused at times when attempting to read the coverages in Green Bay’s sub-packages. Foles had never thrown as many as three picks in a game, but he came apart against Green Bay’s defense, wasting solid performances from the St. Louis defense and rookie running back Todd Gurley, who shined for the second consecutive week. Gurley missed the first three games of his rookie season recovering from a knee injury he suffered last November, but he ran all over the Cardinals last Sunday and did the same to the Packers, with 159 yards on 30 carries.

Rodgers threw his streak-snapping interception to linebacker James Laurinaitis in the first quarter and gave the ball up again just six plays later to cornerback Trumaine Johnson. It was the first time since 2010 that Rodgers had thrown multiple picks at home, and he also lost a fumble, but Foles kept giving the ball back, negating any momentum those turnovers might have created for the Rams. Rookie cornerback Quentin Rollins returned one of those interceptions for a 45-yard touchdown in the first quarter, and Foles’s two picks in the fourth quarter each stopped drives in the red zone, leading to questions regarding the playcalling.

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As great as Gurley has been, he still hasn't scored an NFL touchdown, and one wonders why offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti would put the ball in Foles's hands over Gurley when it matters the most. The offensive line didn't help Foles, but he must be more aware of when it’s time to just take a sack and avoid throws that put his team at risk. The Rams came up with just three points off of Rodgers’s three turnovers, and that's no way to live against a team this good.

At 5–0, the Packers now know that they can win convincingly even when their quarterback isn't at his best. And at 2–3, the Rams are starting to realize that without a quarterback who can keep you in the game, very little else matters.

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