Packers: Aaron Rodgers, James Starks, James Jones slice up Redskins in big win

2013-09-16T06:00:00Z Packers: Aaron Rodgers, James Starks, James Jones slice up Redskins in big winGENARO C. ARMAS | AP Sports Writer madison.com
September 16, 2013 6:00 am  • 

GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers' offense to a record-setting day.

Rodgers was 34 for 42 for a career-high 480 yards and four touchdowns, receiver James Jones had a career-best 178 yards and James Starks ran for 132 yards and a score in a 38-20 win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

According to the Packers, it was the first time in NFL history that any team had a 450-yard passer and 125-yard rusher in the same game.

"We were able to catch the ball well, had yards after the catch and we were able to run the ball better than we have in a long time," Rodgers said.

Rodgers' 480 yards passing tied a franchise record set by former teammate Matt Flynn on Jan. 1, 2012, against the Lions.

Sunday was also the first time that the Packers had a 400-yard passer and 100-yard rusher in the same game.

Rodgers had his big game after waking up with a stiff neck.

"I was hurting pretty bad. I wasn't feeling great pregame," Rodgers said.

What he termed as an "adjustment" from a trainer once he got to the stadium made him feel better.

"Once the adrenaline started going, I just kind got into a rhythm," he said.

Especially in the first half.

The Packers started sluggish, allowing three sacks of Rodgers in the first 9 minutes, then responded with touchdowns on three straight drives.

The defense held Robert Griffin III in check in the first half, and Green Bay rolled to a 24-0 lead at halftime.

Green Bay (1-1) bounced back after a season-opening loss at San Francisco.

The Redskins (0-2) will need to regroup again after getting off to a slow start for a second straight week.

Last week, the Redskins fell behind 26-7 at halftime before rallying in the second half in a 33-27 loss to the Eagles.

"We can't really put our finger on what it is, and that's the real frustrating part," Griffin said.

He finished 26 for 40 for 320 yards and three touchdowns, but most of that came in the second half with the Packers ahead by three scores.

"I thought we almost had to play error-free football, play one of our better games," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said, "and probably did just the opposite in the first half."

Randall Cobb added nine catches for 128 yards and a 35-yard touchdown on a crossing route for a 10-0 lead on a fourth-and-3 play in the first quarter.

Rodgers added touchdown passes to Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley in the second quarter. The Packers led 24-0 at the half, and Rodgers already had 335 yards passing.

Rodgers credited his receivers for gaining lots of ground after catches against the Redskins secondary.

But coach Mike McCarthy knows what Rodgers means to the offense, too.

"You know, he spoils me. He makes it look easy," McCarthy said.

"No doubt, Aaron is a special football player. He's at the point of his career where he is about making other people better, pulling everybody up."

Such as the time when he scrambled to his right while being chased by Brian Orapko. Rodgers waited just long enough to find Finley for a 3-yard touchdown pass.

Not that he watched it. Just at the moment Rodgers released, Orapko took him to the ground on a clean hit.

Just as the fans in the stands erupted with delight, Rodgers, on his back, pumped his fist in the air.

Griffin, in the second game of his much-anticipated return from right knee surgery, looked OK but didn't resemble the quarterback who confounded defenses last year.

The Packers' defense threw a couple of different wrinkles, including a sack on a blitz by reserve cornerback Davon House. Mike Neal intercepted Griffin after receiver Josh Morgan lost his grip on the ball after being hit by Clay Matthews.

Griffin's most memorable play of the first half might have been when his helmet flew off while being tackled by linebackers Matthews and A.J. Hawk.

"We'll be better moving forward," Griffin said. "We'll figure this out."

Pierre Garcon finished with eight catches for 143 yards against a Packers defense playing again without injured safety Morgan Burnett. Alfred Morris had 13 carries for 107 yards for Washington.

Here are five things we learned from the game:

1. SAFETY HIGH: Don't give Rodgers a "one-high" safety look on defense. He'll likely exploit holes in the secondary faster than you can say "Touchdown Randall Cobb." Abiding by the mantra of "taking what the defense gives you," Rodgers often found Jones and Cobb (128 yards, 1 TD) in space or on the run. The receivers took it from there to gain chunks of ground after catches. Jermichael Finley (65 yards, 1 TD) broke tackles. "They gave us some inside leverage routes ... we had a lot of yards after catch. It was 480 yards, but how much of that was YAC?"

2. TOUGHER RG3: Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III finished 26 for 40 for 320 yards and three touchdowns, primarily in the second half when Washington often trailed by three scores. He carried just four times for a yard. But his most eye-opening postgame comments touched on his leadership style. Griffin said that while he believes in positive reinforcement, he's willing to get tougher on his teammates if necessary. "If those guys want me to go out there and be the stern leader, then I'm willing to do that," he said. "I got some of that from my teammates on the sideline asking me to do some more, not necessarily change who I am as a person, but if they want me to be hard on them, I'll be hard on them. I think it's what we need."

3. PACKERS FOUND: A week after getting shut out in the passing game, Jones torched a Redskins defense that played much of the game without safety Brandon Meriweather (concussion). Relegated in the preseason to afterthought status, Starks stepped up after rookie running back Eddie Lacy also left early in the game with a concussion. He became the first Packers player to rush for more than 100 yards since Brandon Jackson hit the century mark in October 2010. Starks also had four catches for 36 yards. It's proof of the Packers' plentiful options on offense, especially when Jordy Nelson is "held" to 66 yards but still catches two touchdown passes. "We have the opportunity, with the guys that we have in this locker room, to do that week in and week out," Cobb said. "As long as we continue to prepare ourselves right and communicate throughout the week and be prepared and execute the plays, I think the stats should continue to look the way they do."

4. SLOW STARTS: The Redskins' offense has yet to score a touchdown before halftime this season. They've been outscored a combined 50-7 by the Eagles and Packers, with the only score during that stretch coming off a 75-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown last week by cornerback DeAngelo Hall in the 33-27 loss to Philadelphia. Coach Mike Shanahan said he likes the potential of his team, though the Redskins can't quite seem to pinpoint exactly why they're getting outplayed early.

"We would make a play and then back ourselves up or shoot ourselves in the foot," receiver Pierre Garcon said. "We just have to continue to stay competitive and make plays. We need to keep battling." Garcon finished with eight catches for 143 yards and a touchdown.

5. THANK THE TRAINER: Rodgers said he woke up Sunday with a stiff neck, so painful that he had a trainer give him an "adjustment" when he arrived at Lambeau Field. Whatever he did worked, and Rodgers said his adrenaline took over once the game started. "Just slept on it wrong, I guess, over at the hotel. Not the hotel's fault," Rodgers said. "But it felt better as the game went on."

NOTES: Packers RB Eddie Lacy left the game early in the first quarter with a concussion after getting hit by Redskins S Brandon Meriweather, who also departed in the second quarter after suffering a concussion. Both players were hurt on apparent helmet-to-helmet hits ... Redskins K Kai Forbath missed the game with a sore groin. He was replaced by John Potter, who was signed Saturday. Potter made two extra-point attempts and went wide right on a 50-yard attempt ... The Packers extended their franchise-record streak to 17 straight homes with at least 22 points scored.

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(2) Comments

  1. Cornelius Gotchberg
    Report Abuse
    Cornelius Gotchberg - September 15, 2013 6:03 pm
    @somecleverscreenname;

    I sense you're not an Oatsie fan?

    The should-have-been incompletion overturned (Jordan Reed?) to a touchdown: NO WAY!

    The defense let itself get sloppy during most of the 2nd half, they need to play more consistently.

    Last week Boldin, this week Garcon; the secondary needs to get healthy AND effective.

    Jones & Nelson are the two best underpaid receivers in the NFL; both could have signed elsewhere for more.

    Starks stepped up big time and is a beast when he's "on;" a smaller Brandon Jacobs.

    The Packers showed a lot of class taking a knee rather than let Rodgers go for the record when neither the yardage, nor the points, were needed.

    GO PACKERS!!!

    The Gotch
  2. somecleverscreenname
    Report Abuse
    somecleverscreenname - September 15, 2013 4:58 pm
    The Packers are averaging 33 points and 502 yards per game ? Clearly, they should have played the starters more during preseason, eh Oates? Clown.
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