Defense Leads the Way Again for Undefeated Green Bay Packers

Green Bay's offense struggled but got two big-play touchdown receptions from James Jones and Ty Montgomery. That was more than enough for Green Bay's defense.

For the first time since the Super Bowl season of 2010, Aaron Rodgers isn’t dragging the rest of the Green Bay Packers along to Victory Lane.

For the second consecutive week, it was the Packers’ defense – not the two-time MVP quarterback – that was the reason why Green Bay stayed undefeated. Behind four interceptions of Nick Foles, the Packers beat the Rams 24-10 on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Rodgers was 18-of-29 for 230 yards and two touchdowns but St. Louis picked him off twice and also took it away with a fumble. That gave the Rams a fighting chance to pull off back-to-back road upsets after knocking off Arizona last week. However, while Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley pounded out 159 yards on 30 attempts, Foles was miserable. He was just 10-of-26 for 73 yards until a long completion in the final moments. He was sacked three times and faced constant pressure.

"Good team win today," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Start with the defense: I thought they were clearly the key to our victory. Just the big plays and the constant pressure. Offensively, we were up and down, didn't really handle some things as much as you'd like. But a lot to learn from, a lot of good things, got some things to clean up. Special teams I thought had a good day. So scrappy, a lot of adversity, up and down, but heck it's great to have those kind of wins. 5-0 feels good."

The Packers’ offense, which had been in a funk since the opening drive against the Rams’ superb defense, struck quickly after halftime. Rodgers hit James Jones on a post at midfield and he took it the distance for a 65-yard touchdown to put Green Bay in front 21-10.

The Rams kept a drive alive when punter Johnny Hekker completed a pass to safety Cody Davis. However, that drive bogged down and Greg Zuerlein’s 50-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by defensive end Datone Jones.
The Rams, however, got it right back on defensive end Robert Quinn’s sack-strip of Rodgers, with cornerback Lamarcus Joyner recovering. However, after one first down, the Rams’ offense went in reverse and Zuerlein missed wide left from 53.

The Packers couldn’t take advantage of either short field – a hands-to-the-face penalty by Green Bay tight end Richard Rodgers wiped out a 47-yard field goal on the second of Zuerlein’s misses.

St. Louis appeared poised to make it a one-score game on Todd Gurley’s 55-yard run on a 15-yard end-around by Tavon Austin to the 10. However, on third-and-goal from the 7, Foles’ pass to tight end Lance Kendricks was deflected by linebacker Joe Thomas and intercepted by safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the end zone.

The Rams’ next possession died on Clay Matthews’ second-down sack. On fourth-and-7, Rams coach Jeff Fisher elected to attempt a 63-yard field goal with 3:37 remaining. Zuerlein had plenty of leg but not nearly enough accuracy.

Green Bay’s Mason Crosby tacked on a 35-yard field goal with about a minute to go to complete the scoring, with Quinten Rollins completing the game with his second interception of the game.

"They’re playing great," Rodgers said. "It’s been fun to watch the last two weeks. We’ve struggled on offense the last couple of weeks, so they’ve been excellent. They kind of exploded with the turnovers today. That pick-6 was big in the first quarter for us from Q, and then obviously when you turn the ball over, get picks in the red zone, that directly impacts the game taking points off the board."

The Packers took an unusual path to a 14-10 lead at halftime. Rodgers and Foles entered the game with the lowest interception rates in NFL history among quarterbacks with at least 1,000 career passing attempts. They threw three interceptions in the first 14 minutes as the Packers bolted to a 14-0 lead.

Green Bay drew first blood, with the Rams blowing coverage on a third-and-6 pass to Ty Montgomery. He caught the ball at the 24 and sprinted untouched for a 31-yard touchdown.

On Green Bay’s next possession, the Rams snuck safety Mark Barron to the line of scrimmage as a sixth rusher. Barron deflected Rodgers’ quick pass and it was intercepted by linebacker James Laurianitis. That ended Rodgers’ NFL-record streaks of 486 consecutive passes (580 including playoffs) and 44 touchdown passes (49 including playoffs) since his last home interception on Dec. 2, 2012.

“It was a lot of fun,” Rodgers said of the streak. “(I’m going to) have to start a new one. I figured I might as well break the streak with a couple interceptions today. Streaks are meant to be broken, so it’s fun to put something together like that. But I’m sure somebody will come along at some point and up 600 in a row maybe. Maybe not.”

It didn’t matter as Foles was intercepted three passes later. On the next possession, Foles was intercepted again, with rookie cornerback Quinten Rollins returning it 45 yards for a touchdown.

St. Louis hung in there, though, and seized momentum late in the first half. Foles’ 6-inch flip to receiver Tavon Austin turned into a 6-yard touchdown. The Rams then intercepted Rodgers again, with Trumaine Johnson jumping a route to Jones and returning it 29 yards to the Packers’ 33. Zuerlein’s 42-yard field goal brought the Rams within 14-10 with 1:40 left in the half.

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