Packers explode on offense with historic performance

QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY – Six short words from Matt LaFleur summed it up.

“Our offense came to play today,” the Packers’ head coach said.

And how.

Green Bay scored six touchdowns in a span of eight possessions for a runaway 42-24 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The stats look good any number of ways this one is parsed. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers posted his and the franchise’s first perfect 158.3 passer rating, throwing for 429 yards and five touchdowns, and rushing himself for the other score.

Eight different Packers caught at least two passes, six of them had an explosive gain of 20-plus yards, and five of them snagged a TD. Throw in 6-for-10 on third down, 3-for-3 in the red zone, and just two offensive penalties and one sack in 55 snaps, and the offensive onslaught was the culmination of what LaFleur, Rodgers & Co. have been building toward over the first two months of the regular season.

That it came without top wide receiver Davante Adams and on a short week following a down-to-the-wire Monday night victory only adds to the eye-opening nature of the performance.

“That’s how you want it to look,” LaFleur said, echoing a similar line of Rodgers’ from the QB’s postgame press conference. “This is the National Football League, it’s not going to be like that every week, but again, our guys, especially coming off six days, I thought they were locked in.

“I think we’re starting to learn our players a little bit better, what they do really well. I think the communication’s been on point between coaches and players. Today it came together.”

The Packers didn’t even know until close to game time whether they’d have receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling (foot/ankle) and Geronimo Allison (concussion), but both played and produced. Valdes-Scantling’s 74-yard catch and run in the fourth quarter for Green Bay’s final touchdown put the game away and gave him a career-high 133 yards, all on two catches in the second half.

Rodgers was simply unstoppable. He hadn’t thrown five touchdown passes since 2015, vs. Kansas City, and it was the first time in his four career games of five or more TD throws that he added a rushing score of his own.

In going 25-of-31, he had just one more incompletion than scoring toss, and his 429 yards were his fourth most as well as the fifth most in team history. It was his 10th career 400-yard passing game (including playoffs).

“I think this was the most complete I’ve played,” Rodgers said, referring to the 2019 season. “I feel like this has been coming, I really do.”

LaFleur felt from the get-go the Packers would have to attack the Raiders through the air, and they stayed aggressive all game in improving to 6-1 and staying alone in first place in the NFC North, one game ahead of 5-2 Minnesota.

Oakland started the game just as explosive and efficient on offense, but the game turned late in the first half. With the Raiders down 14-10 and knocking on the door for a go-ahead score, Oakland QB Derek Carr (22-of-28, 293 yards, two TDs, one INT, 119.2 rating) carelessly reached for the pylon on a scramble with the ball in his left hand and lost his grip.

It bounded into and out of the end zone, and replay review ruled it a turnover and a touchback. The Packers responded by driving 80 yards in the final two minutes of the half, with Jake Kumerow hauling in a tip-toe 37-yard touchdown catch along the sideline, and Green Bay then opened the second half with a 78-yard touchdown drive.

So, instead of potentially taking a lead, the Raiders found themselves down 28-10 the next time they got the ball, and they never got closer than 11 points the rest of the game.

Lambeau Field hosted a Week 7 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Oakland Raiders.

“You talk about a pivotal point in the game,” LaFleur said. “That was absolutely critical.

“The margin for error in this league is so small…if they go up there 17-14, you’re talking about a completely different game. That was the turning point of the game and what helped open it up a little bit for us.”

On its heels much of the day, Green Bay’s defense came up big twice in the fourth quarter to preserve the comfortable margin.

First, the Packers stuffed Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (21 carries, 124 yards) on third-and-goal from the 2 and fourth-and-goal from the 1. Moments later on Oakland’s next drive, Carr made his second key error, tossing an interception in the end zone. Safety Adrian Amos tipped it and cornerback Kevin King grabbed it in front of tight end Darren Waller, who had been having his way in the game (seven catches, 126 yards, two TDs).

“That’s a resilient group,” LaFleur said of his defense.

Especially King, who had just surrendered a 36-yard completion to Marcell Ateman on the previous snap. The two stops kept the Packers in front, 35-17, and only eight minutes remained after King’s pick, his third of the season.

“Those are the close-out plays we’ve gotten from our defense all season long,” Rodgers said.

There’s plenty for that unit to dissect and improve upon after allowing 484 yards, 7-of-11 third-down conversions, and several big plays.

But games get like this in the NFL sometimes, and in this one the Packers had all the offense they needed. The question is where it goes from here.

“We know that we’ve got to get back to work in order for it to happen again,” LaFleur said. “You can never feel comfortable. When you have great players, especially our quarterback, it definitely gives you confidence that whatever you call, he’s going to make it work.

“But it takes all 11 guys doing their job. I can’t speak enough about the effort, the execution of our guys.”