GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers extended their winning streak to six in a row by beating the Washington Football Team 24-10 on Sunday. While it perhaps lacked some style points, the Packers took care of business behind three touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers and a defense that made a series of key plays.
Here is this week’s report card.
The passing end of the equation was tremendous. Rodgers was 27-of-35 for 274 yards, with touchdowns to Davante Adams, Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan. Rodgers completed nine passes for 123 yards to Lazard and Tonyan; Rodgers believes more of that will mean more one-on-one opportunities for Adams. We’ll see about that. Regardless, it’s never a bad thing to get more players involved. Tonyan was such an X-factor last season. Randall Cobb had the only drop.
The protection, however, was spotty – especially in the first half. The offensive tackles were mostly up to the task against defensive ends Chase Young and Montez Sweat. Left tackle Elgton Jenkins was fabulous in his second week back in the lineup. Right tackle Billy Turner was beat a few times and penalized twice but otherwise did fine work. The interior of the line, however, was overrun by the high-quality defensive tackle trio of Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis. Left guard Jon Runyan, who has been really good, gave up two sacks to Allen, who is a flat-out stud. The good news is the Packers won’t face many defensive lines with that type of across-the-board firepower. The other good news is All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari will be back sometime soon so Jenkins can go back to guard.
I considered going with “incomplete” here because it’s not that the Packers ran the ball poorly it’s that they didn’t run it at all. Of Green Bay’s 15 rushes for 57 yards, 15 yards came on a scramble by Rodgers in which he stepped through a sack and 13 more came on an end-around by Equanimeous St. Brown.
The true runs went nowhere. Aaron Jones carried six times for 19 yards and AJ Dillon carried three times for 6 yards. Kylin Hill got it three times for 2 yards, with two of those attempts in garbage time. There was nowhere to run and, considering the weakness of Washington’s secondary, it’s little wonder why coach Matt LaFleur chose to throw the ball all the time.
Dillon touched the ball four times, including a reception, and fumbled twice. Center Lucas Patrick saved Dillon’s bacon by recovering one fumble at Green Bay’s 6. The other fumble set up a Washington field goal. Against a team with a better offense, Dillon might have killed the Packers.
Quarterback Taylor Heinicke completed 25-of-37 passes for 268 yards. He threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin in the first quarter and should have had a second to McLaurin, but Heinicke’s perfect pass hit him in the helmet and helped give the Packers a second red-zone stop.
On the bright side, Green Bay’s pass rush was superb. Pro Football Focus credited the Packers with a whopping 29 pressures, led by Rashan Gary with 10, Kenny Clark with seven and Whitney Mercilus four. Gary’s sack/strip to start the third quarter, which set up a touchdown for a 21-7 lead, was the decisive play of the game. He is having an excellent season.
Chandon Sullivan’s interception highlighted another strong performance, Eric Stokes was excellent after the opening score and Rasul Douglas delivered a second consecutive promising outing. On the other hand, Heinicke had a big day on scrambles. The Packers don’t have much time to fix that problem before facing Arizona’s Kyler Murray. Dime defensive back Henry Black was picked on early and often. Despite the pressure, the defense yielded too many yards to a backup quarterback with only one good receiver.
Washington rushed for 195 yards, but 95 of those belonged to Heinicke – with most of those on scrambles. Another 27 yards came on a double reverse by DeAndre Carter. How much do you want to bet the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill gets the ball on a copycat play in two weeks? Running backs Antonio Gibson (14 carries, 51 yards) and J.D. McKissic (four carries, 22 yards) were limited to a manageable 73 yards on 18 tries. The defense created four fumbles, with three of those on running plays.
In what could be a copy-and-paste, the charge was led by linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, who piled up 13 tackles and two forced fumbles. He made the play and forced a fumble on Heinicke’s fourth-and-goal sneak for the first red-zone stop, and he also jarred it loose from Gibson for what should have been a recovery by Darnell Savage.
Carter is an excellent kickoff returner but the Packers kept him under wraps. Of Green Bay’s five kickoffs, Washington started at the 17, the 23 (three times) and the 25. Punter Corey Bojorquez’s three punts averaged 46.8 yards. None were returned. One of his punts, with the ball at the 6, was a 53-yard bomb with a fair catch forced by St. Brown. Another was a 37-yarder that hit just short of the goal line and was downed by Isaac Yiadom at the 3.
TJ Slaton had a blocked field goal. That big play was neutralized by the block of Mason Crosby, whose low kick was rejected by Tim Settle.
The Packers neither returned a kickoff (two touchbacks) nor a punt (Washington never punted).
With seven starters out of the lineup due to injuries, the Packers won. That sentence shouldn't be glossed over just because of the competition.
With the Packers having every reason to be looking ahead to Thursday night, they won rather comfortably. The pass-centric game plan was the way to go offensively, and Joe Barry’s defense finally had success in the red zone. The one black mark was the team’s inability to stop Heinicke from finding gigantic patches of grass for chunk gains as a runner. Who knows, maybe Barry was keeping that in his back pocket to use against Murray.