GREEN BAY – The Chargers won the stats; the Packers won the game, 27-20.
Philip Rivers threw for 503 yards, the Chargers converted nine of 18 third-downs, gained 32 first downs, ran 89 plays and held the ball for 38 minutes, but none of that was enough. Why? Because the Packers made the big plays at crunch time.
"It's about points," Coach Mike McCarthy said. "The big-play battle at halftime was tied. I don't know what it was in the second half, but we made the big play at the end."
Rookie cornerback Damarious Randall made what McCarthy termed the "biggest play of the game." Randall batted away a pass intended for Danny Woodhead in the end zone, on a fourth-and-goal play from 2-yard line.
It was do-or-die for the Chargers, capping a painful do-or-die week that began with a last-play-of-the-game loss to the Steelers, and ended with a record-setting performance that produced another heartbreaking defeat.
Randall's play was symbolic of the game. The Chargers made little play after little play. Rivers executed a brilliantly conceived game plan that attempted 65 passes in a ball-control offense that completed 45 of those pass attempts. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers attempted fewer than half Rivers' total, yet, Rodgers came away the winner.
The Packers defense held firm when the game was on the line.
"I think our red zone stand speaks volumes. This is a football team with a lot of grit," McCarthy said.
The Packers are 6-0 and headed for a well-deserved bye week. After they've rested, they will return to begin preparation for the NFL's game of the year, a date with the 6-0 Broncos in Denver.
"We need it. We're beat up. Playing in the NFL is tough," McCarthy said.
The Packers lost another receiver on Sunday. Rookie Ty Montgomery left with an ankle injury and did not return. He was effectively replaced by Jeff Janis, a fan favorite who caught two of Rodgers' 16 completions and accounted for 79 of Rodgers' 255 passing yards.
"I have a 6-0 football team that needs to get healthy, and we have a chance to get a lot better. Our young guys are stepping up. We've got a chance," McCarthy said in Week-6 mini-evaluation.
One of the biggest plays of the game was T.J. Lang's recovery of an Eddie Lacy fumble. Had the Chargers recovered the ball, they would've had possession at the Packers 25-yard line, having just cut the Packers' lead to 24-20.
The Green Bay Packers, wearing their classic third jerseys, hosted the San Diego Chargers in Week 6 at Lambeau Field. Photos by Jim Biever, Packers.com.
For the third consecutive week, the theme of the Packers' victory was "win gritty."
"The defense gets paid, too. They have good schemes and they have good players, too," Rodgers said of the Chargers defense. "It wasn't ugly football. I like the guys we've got."
Green Bay won as a lot of good teams in the league won on Sunday: It found a way. So did the Broncos, despite Peyton Manning throwing three interceptions in an overtime win in Cleveland. So did the Steelers, despite Michael Vick throwing for just six yards before leaving in the second half of a win over the Cardinals.
"We'll take them any way we can. Tonight was a hang-on-at-the-end game. They all count the same," Rodgers said.
For the second consecutive week, Rodgers was subdued in his postgame press conference. The Packers offense is not playing up to its lofty standards. Disappointment was written on Rodgers' face.
"It's been a long day. A lot of standing around on the sideline. I'm happy we're 6-0. There's room for improvement. We had the ball for 49 plays. That's beneath our standard," Rodgers said.
But they won, and that's beneath no one's standards.