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Packers Score 36 vs. Rams But ‘Should’ve’ Scored 40

Even their season-high scoring output left the Green Bay Packers wanting more following their 36-28 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Good isn’t good enough. And that’s what makes the Green Bay Packers a potentially great team.

With the odds stacked against them, the bruised-and-battered Packers beat the rested-and-healthy Los Angeles Rams 36-28 on Sunday. It was a signature victory that kept the Packers squarely in the hunt for the coveted No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.

The Packers were thrilled to enter their bye with a resounding victory but hardly satisfied.

“This should’ve been a 40-point game for us,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.

He’s probably right but 36 points, a 2-to-1 edge in time of possessions and a 3-to-1 victory in turnovers is nothing to sneeze at.

“I think there were some opportunities out there we didn’t take advantage of,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “You’ve got give them credit. That’s a damn good football team, one of the best teams, especially in the NFC. They have a lot of great players over there. Really great front. Got guys like Jalen Ramsey. But there’s always going to be plays after every game you look back on and you wish you had back. The bottom line is, do you do enough to win the football game? Our guys did that tonight and I was proud of them.”

A couple things prevented a big victory from being a blowout victory.

The Packers started three possessions on the Rams’ side of the field. The first, the sack-strip by Rashan Gary that Preston Smith recovered and returned to the Rams’ 6, was turned into a 1-yard touchdown run by Rodgers. The other two – a huge fourth-and-1 stop at the 29 on the ensuing possession and the special-teams takeaway – produced only field goals.

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The league’s 24th-ranked red-zone offense continued to stall and leave fate in the hands of Mason Crosby and the field-goal unit. The Packers went 3-of-5 in the playground formerly known as the “gold zone” – a bad day in comparison to last year’s unprecedented 80.0 percent touchdown rate but still better than the season mark of 54.8 percent. In the second quarter, Green Bay had a first down at the 14 and settled for a 28-yard field goal. In the third quarter, it had a first down at the 15 and survived Marcedes Lewis’ fumble to boot a 29-yard field goal.

“Red zone, again, that’s been kind of our bugaboo this season,” Rodgers said. “We had a couple opportunities with short fields on turnovers and only turned them into six points. That can’t keep going. We’re just not clicking in the red zone.”

After a time-consuming, 75-yard touchdown drive to start the second half, Green Bay’s next four possessions went punt, field goal after a turnover, punt and punt. That kept the Rams hanging out on life support, a dangerous proposition considering the Rams’ ability to strike at any moment.

“I think we can grow. We can definitely still continue to get better,” receiver Davante Adams said. “Just nit-picking on some things. We’ve got really high standards as far as how we want to operate as a team, especially on offense. We come off the field with no points three times in a row or whatever it was – it may have been more, it feels like more. When it’s twice, it feels like it’s too much. We’ve got really high standards as far as how we want to get things done, so coming out of a game with 30-some-odd points, it’s going to be great, but we just want to continue pushing the envelope and capitalize as much as we can.”

Still, the Packers had exactly 400 yards of offense until Rodgers took a knee to run out the clock. The offense ran 78 plays without a turnover. It went a ho-hum 7-of-19 on third down but converted both fourth-down tries. It hogged the ball for 39 minutes, 40 seconds.

And it did it against a defense with three elite players – defensive tackle Aaron Donald, outside linebacker Von Miller and cornerback Jalen Ramsey – while down three starting offensive linemen (David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins and Josh Myers), and with a quarterback (Rodgers) and running back (Aaron Jones) laboring through injuries.

After being held to 27 or fewer points in seven consecutive games, Green Bay scored 31 in a loss at Minnesota last week and a season-high 36 against a top defense on Sunday.

This is an offense with an arrow that’s pointing up. Combined with a defense that has been strong for most of the season, the Packers are looking dangerous with the calendar about to flip to December.

“It’s better for sure,” Adams said of the state of the offense. “Y’all know me by this point like. The way I want to see this offense move is at the potential that we have. And I don’t even like that word because it sounds like falling short almost. We’ve got some good players on this offense, man. I want to go out there and score some type of points every time. I just want to get points and I want to score as many touchdowns. I love touchdowns. So, I just want to see this offense continue to get better as we get through this last stretch.”