Week 2: Packers Beat Bills 34-7

Clay Matthews had three of the defense's four sacks and Aaron Rodgers accounted for three touchdowns in a 34-7 victory. The Packers improved to 2-0 with a performance that was dominant at times. We have much more in our updated game story.

The last time the Green Bay Packers hosted the Buffalo Bills, Vonnie Holliday set a club record with five sacks in a 10-0 victory in 1997.

Clay Matthews was just as dominant on Sunday. He finished with three sacks and four tackles for losses as the Packers dominated in spurts for a 34-7 victory on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The Packers (2-0) were committing the cardinal sin of allowing a heavy underdog hang around. Green Bay led just 13-7 at halftime with the Bills (0-2) getting the ball to open the third quarter. On third-and-8, however, Brandon Chillar collected his first career interception and set up the offense at the Bills' 39. Aaron Rodgers took advantage with two third-down conversions, the second of which being his 7-yard touchdown strike to Donald Driver.

The Bills went three-and-out, thanks to Matthews' third sack, and the offense continued its momentum. Rodgers used play action to free up Jordy Nelson for 15 yards and Jermichael Finley for 22 yards. On second-and-goal from the 9, the Bills lost contain and Rodgers ran around right end for the touchdown and a 27-7 lead with 1:56 to go in the third quarter.

When Morgan Burnett stole the ball from Roscoe Parrish for an interception on the second snap of the fourth quarter, the Packers' victory became a formality – a fact amplified when Rodgers hit James Jones for a 30-yard touchdown to make it 34-7 with 11:41 to go.

The Packers entered the game as a two-touchdown favorite and played like it in the first quarter, bolting to a 13-0 lead behind a 150-0 edge in yards. Matthews and Jenkins led the defense with drive-killing sacks and Rodgers hit Finley on completions of 34 and 32 yards to set up a field goal and a touchdown, respectively.

But the Bills pulled within 13-7 at halftime by controlling the action in the second quarter. Offensively, Buffalo had success on the ground against last year's top-ranked run defense. Defensively, the Bills held the Packers to two three-and-out drives and 11 total yards.

The moment

After sleep-walking through the second quarter, the Packers led just 13-7 as Buffalo started the second half on offense. On third-and-8, a blitzing A.J. Hawk hit Trent Edwards, the ball went through Steven Johnson's hands and Brandon Chillar grabbed his first career interception. From there, the offense scored three consecutive touchdowns.

The player

For all the preseason talk about Aaron Rodgers being an MVP candidate, it's Clay Matthews' assault on quarterbacks that is the story of the first two weeks. Matthews recorded his second consecutive three-sack game and chipped in four tackles for losses and five quarterback hits.

The number

37.0: In their pregame packet, the Bills mentioned that Edwards' passer rating was almost equal to Rodgers' after one game. Not anymore. With interceptions by Morgan Burnett and Chillar, Edwards' passer rating of 37.0 came on 11-of-18 passing for 102 yards. Take away the sacks, and the Bills netted 62 passing yards for the game.

The quote

Nick Barnett, on Mike McCarthy's halftime anger. "We came in here and you could see it on his face. I don't know what he said but it was something, F-bomb, get this (expletive) right. We knew going into the locker room, we need to step this … up right now. We don't want to have no mishaps in a game that we should win and we feel that we should win. If we had lost this game, it would be devastating."

The division

It's no surprise that the Packers are atop the NFC North at 2-0. It's also no surprise that the Lions are in last place at 0-2. But the rest of the division? Minnesota fell to 0-2 with a 14-10 loss at home against Miami in which Brett Favre threw three interceptions. Next week's opponent, Chicago, improved to 2-0 by shocking the Cowboys 27-20 in Dallas behind Jay Cutler's three touchdowns.

The other things you might have missed

— After not playing at all on defense last week because the defense played nickel every snap against Philadelphia, A.J. Hawk got ample playing time against Buffalo – even in the nickel package. "In our nickel package, as much as they ran the ball out of three-wide-receiver sets – you saw a lot of three wide receivers with two backs -- that spreads you out," defensive coordinator Dom Capers explained. "We just wanted to make sure that we were stout enough to play the run."

—Starting with the Packers' drive that began at 5:59 remaining in the second quarter, first-round pick Bryan Bulaga replaced Chad Clifton at left tackle. "Chad Clifton did not practice twice this week," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He has an issue with his knee. I felt that he just didn't look like he was fully recovered, so I thought it was important to get Bryan in there." Asked if this might be permanent, the coach said: "He didn't look good today. He didn't look he was healthy. He struggled last week through the Philadelphia game so that's why Bryan played today. We'll assess it in the morning and set our plan for next week."

— With career touchdown reception No. 51, Donald Driver broke a fourth-place tie with Max McGee.

— John Kuhn set career highs in rushes (nine), yards (36) and matched his career high for longest rush (12 yards). Quinn Johnson, who started at fullback with Korey Hall inactive, had a career-long 11 yard reception.

— Dimitri Nance, who was signed on Tuesday, rushed two times for 6 yards. "It's an interesting thing when you think about coaching college for 19 years and you've got guys who might be around you for four years and don't get to play until they're a senior," offensive coordinator Shawn Slocum said. "And here you're in the NFL, the ultimate league, and the guy shows up on Monday and he's playing on Sunday. It's unique. I thought he was calm and poised. We certainly featured him on certain plays we maybe felt a little more comfortable with him. Again, he had to know a good bit."

— With Jordy Nelson averaging 30.5 yards on two kickoff returns and the two interceptions, the Packers gained a 121-yard edge in field position, or an average of 8 yards per possession.

— Rodgers did a Lambeau Leap following his 9-yard touchdown run. "Pretty bad," was his evaluation. "I think that's my third one and the guys were giving me a hard time on the sideline, but I told them, I said, ‘Look, I was tired. That was a long way to run, my calves are cramping and that wall's pretty high.' Back in '05 the wall was a little bit shorter in the middle and Mark Tauscher caught a touchdown pass -- eventually it got called back because of a holding call – but that's kind of where he aimed for, and they need to bring back a section for guys who are not as athletic so maybe we can jump in that area."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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