Packers bounce back in big way, improve to 5-1

Green Bay follows first loss by handling Houston, 35-20

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QB Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers called it last week, and Sunday he was proven correct.

The Packers rebounded in the right way from their first loss of the season a week ago and took care of business in rather workmanlike fashion, beating the Houston Texans 35-20 at NRG Stadium to improve to 5-1.

"I said it was an anomaly, and obviously we wanted to back that up," Rodgers said of the blowout loss at Tampa Bay. "That game is an outlier I believe and today was more in line with our first four weeks."

Indeed it was, with Rodgers and receiver Davante Adams combining on a big day for the offense, and with the defense rising up to get some key stops in the second half.

It all occurred with two star players on offense in left tackle David Bakhtiari and running back Aaron Jones, plus half the starting secondary on defense in cornerback Kevin King and safety Darnell Savage, missing the game due to injuries.

The Packers compensated just fine, building a 21-0 halftime lead and 28-7 advantage after three quarters. The offense scored touchdowns on two of its first three drives and the defense allowed just two first downs on Houston's first three possessions to take command and never really relinquish it.

"I just think we're a resilient group," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "These guys rallied around each other and made plays when we needed them.

"We had a lot of guys just step up. They've been working hard. They've been working for those moments."

It started with Rodgers and Adams, who connected 13 times for 196 yards and two touchdowns, a single-game yardage career high for Adams. Houston insisted on trying to cover Adams one-on-one, and Rodgers multiple times changed Adams' route at the line of scrimmage to capitalize on mismatches.

The offense converted 7-of-12 third downs – all seven coming on receptions by Adams, including both of his TDs. The combination of crossers, go routes and back-shoulder throws was too much for the struggling Texans' defense.

"I felt like we had a pretty good day making them pay," Rodgers said. "Because when you've got a one-on-one and Davante, it is kind of feast-or-famine. Today we made those plays count."

Rodgers also found receiver Malik Taylor and tight end Jace Sternberger for their first career regular-season TDs, and the two-time MVP QB finished an efficient 23-of-34 for 283 yards with four TDs for a 132.4 passer rating. He also wasn't sacked behind an offensive line that shifted right tackle Billy Turner to left tackle and brought in Rick Wagner off the bench to take Turner's usual spot.

When the offense started to scuffle after Adams' second TD, a 45-yarder, in the third quarter, the defense stood tall.

The Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans faced off in a Week 7 matchup on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020.

Green Bay went three-and-out three straight times, with a blocked punt mixed in. But the defense got a pair of red-zone stops to force field goals, one courtesy of a third-down sack from safety Adrian Amos on an all-out blitz.

"That was huge," Rodgers said. "Huge."

Then, with the score 28-13 and the Texans at midfield, outside linebacker Preston Smith delivered another key stop, corralling Houston QB Deshaun Watson on a fourth-and-1 option play for a turnover on downs.

"A lot of times that will come back to bite you," LaFleur said of the string of three-and-outs on offense. "But our defense rose to the occasion and made the most of it."

The offense regained its footing and drove for the clinching score, as running back Jamaal Williams (114 yards from scrimmage – 77 rushing, 37 receiving) cashed in from a yard out to make it 35-13 with 3:40 left.

Houston added a late TD as Watson surpassed 300 yards passing (29-of-39, 309 yards, two TDs, 114.2 rating), and the Texans recovered an onside kick before Green Bay's defense got its first turnover since Week 3 to officially put the game away.

"It takes everyone. I can't say enough about just what a job our offensive line did," said LaFleur, referencing Billy Turner flipping from right to left tackle and Rick Wagner filling in on the right side.

"It's always awesome to bounce back after the game that we had the previous week. Really proud of our guys' effort, just how they brought it each and every day."

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