Packers Attack Redskins with YAC

Aaron Rodgers threw for a record-setting 480 yards but the receivers did most of the work on Sunday. Time and again, they turned short passes into productive gains.

On Aaron Rodgers' first 11 dropbacks on Sunday, he was sacked three times.

For Rodgers, who was battling a stiff neck, it was time to move onto Plan B.

Plan B was a pretty good one for the Green Bay Packers in their 38-20 victory over Washington Sunday. Turning to a short passing game to mitigate the influence of the Redskins' standout outside linebackers, Rodgers tied the franchise record with 480 passing yards.

"I didn't feel great before the game," Rodgers said. "My neck was really bothering me, it was stiff. I've got to thank my guys in the training room (and chiropractor Michael) Zoelle for coming over and giving me an adjustment, because I was hurting pretty bad. I wasn't feeling great pre-game. But once the adrenaline started going, just kind of got into a rhythm. They played a lot of one-high (safety). 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?

The YAC, thanks to the run-after-catch skills of James Jones, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and James Starks, was a whopping 270 yards, based on Packer Report's play-by-play. With Rodgers going 34-of-42 through the air, that equated to a superb 11.43 yards per attempt, using the NFL's preferred way of measuring a team's bang for its buck through the air. Break that down, and Rodgers averaged 5.0 yards through the air per attempt, with the receivers averaging 6.43 per attempt.

"We've been talking about that all offseason that that's something that we're pressing," said Cobb, who caught nine passes for 128 yards, including 78 after the catch. "We make good plays but why not make those plays great and break tackles and pick up more yards? If you look at some of the plays that we had tonight, they were big plays but we want to make bigger plays. We want to be better and we're going to keep pushing ourselves to be better."

The Packers led 3-0 when the offense trotted on the field for its third series of the game, which started at Washington's 42. Finley turned a 1-yard pass into a 7-yard gain. On fourth-and-3, the Packers got Cobb matched up on linebacker Perry Riley, with Cobb turning a 9-yard pass into a 35-yard touchdown when he accelerated from three defenders.

The next drive started when Starks caught a pass caught 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage and turned it into a 6-yard gain. Completions of 27 yards to Jones (4 YAC), 9 yards to Starks (4 YAC) and 6 yards to Finley (4 YAC) set up Rodgers' 14-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson that required no run after catch when Nelson beat veteran DeAngelo Hall on a post.

Green Bay made it 24-0 on the next possession. The big play there came when Jones beat rookie David Amerson badly up the left sideline for a gain of 57 that included 35 yards after the catch.

"If you let the first guy tackle you, you get no respect when you come to the sideline," Jones said. "I don't care if it's a 70-yarder or whatnot, you're not getting any respect. You've got to make somebody miss to get a chest bump from your teammates."

The Packers almost made it 31-0 at the half, with Starks (15-yard screen with 19 YAC) and Jones (20-yard gain with 19 YAC) putting the ball in scoring position, but Jones fumbled while trying to reach the ball to the goal line.

Not to worry. The Packers extended the edge to 31-0 on the second possession of the third quarter. On the first play, Rodgers threw a 0-yard pass to Finley, with Finley plowing through a handful of would-be tacklers for a gain of 27. Back-to-back 9-yard runs by Starks set up Rodgers' 15-yard touchdown pass to Nelson.

In all, 88 of Jones' 178 yards came after the catch, with Cobb (78 of 128 yards), Finley (58 of 65 yards) and Starks (39 of 36 yards) making big contributions. Nelson (9 of his 66 yards) and Andrew Quarless (4 of his 7 yards) finished off the YAC distribution.

"That's very big. That's something that we pride ourselves on is yards after the catch," Cobb said. "We did have a good game but we can be better. We can do better, we can give more, we can do more. We made plays but we've got to make bigger plays. We'll continue to push for that."


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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.


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