Rodgers Drives Packers After Carr’s Critical Fumble
With Davante Adams out and Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison not practicing all week, the Green Bay Packers wide receiver situation seemed to dictate a heavy dose of the running game on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.
Instead, Aaron Rodgers threw five touchdown passes to five different players and finished with 429 passing yards and a perfect 158.3 passer rating for the first time in his career in ripping the Oakland Raiders 42-24. It was Rodgers’ first game with five touchdown passes since Sept. 28, 2015, against the Kansas City Chiefs. He added a rushing touchdown for his first six-touchdown game since throwing for six against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 9, 2014.
“It feels good,” Rodgers said. “I feel like this has been coming, I really do. I feel like we’ve been building and I’ve been feeling a lot more comfortable and Matt’s been feeling more comfortable with him calling it for me.”
Green Bay is 6-1, having mostly taken care of business in a season-opening stretch of five home games in seven weeks. However, to its credit, it beat the Lions and the Raiders (3-3) – two teams coming off byes.
While the game was a blowout, who knows how the story might have differed if not for a sequence at the end of the first half. On second-and-goal from the 2 with Green Bay leading 14-10, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr scrambled toward the end zone. He dove head-first and extended the ball to the goal line, but the ball slipped from his hands and bounded out of the side of the end zone. Initially, officials ruled it was Oakland’s ball at the 1. A booth review changed the call, giving the Packers the ball at their 20 with 1:49 remaining.
“In that moment, it’s so hard because you’re right there and you’re playing a tough team where you’re going to need all of the points you can get,” Carr said. “It’s so hard not to try. That’s everything I’ve ever been about in my entire life is to try. I’ve got to go with two hands, right? Trying to extend the ball with one hand isn’t smart. That’s stupid. But, at the end of the day, it’s really hard to, in that situation, when you’re running, I’m not thinking about anything else but, ‘Oh, man, I could get in.’ But it sucks, man. It’s my fault. I let my team down.”
Rodgers led a killer two-minute drive that ended with his 37-yard touchdown pass to Jake Kumerow. Kumerow caught the ball at the 11 and somehow maintained his balance into the end zone. Just like that, instead of potentially trailing 17-14, Green Bay led 21-10.
“You talk about a pivotal point in the game,” LaFleur said. “That was absolutely critical because we were able to go down and score with 12 seconds left and then get the opening kick and go down and score again. The margin for error in this league is so small. You talk about key plays, that was a huge play in the football game because if they go up there 17-14, who knows what happens on our two-minute drive. You’re talking about a completely different game. That was the turning point of the game and what helped open it up a little bit for us.”
The Packers got the ball coming out of halftime and went for the kill, with Rodgers’ bomb being hauled in by Valdes-Scantling for a gain of 59. Rodgers’ 3-yard touchdown run made it 28-10.
The Raiders pulled within 28-17 on the first of tight end Darren Waller’s two touchdowns but Green Bay answered immediately. The drive started with a 25-yard completion to tight end Jimmy Graham and ended with a 3-yard touchdown to Graham. The score was set up by a leaping 26-yard grab by Allen Lazard.
Rodgers was 25-of-31 passing, meaning his total touchdowns matched his incompletions. Valdes-Scantling, who played through ankle and knee injuries sustained last week against Detroit, caught two passes for 133 yards and a 74-yard touchdown that closed the scoring. Eight players caught at least two passes, and six players had catches of more than 20 yards.
The Raiders actually outgained the Packers 484-481, with Carr throwing for 293 yards, Waller catching seven passes for 126 yards and running back Josh Jacobs evading defenders for 124 yards. However, while Green Bay scored on all three of its red-zone possessions, Oakland went 3-of-6. One of the stops was an end-zone interception by Kevin King and another was a fourth-and-goal stuff of Jacobs.
“That’s the name of the game, man: Prevent them from scoring,” outside linebacker Preston Smith said. “We did our job. We have to look at the film and fix the things that cause big plays from them, hurt us on defense. At the end of the day, they might’ve had some big plays, but we held it down in the red zone.”