CHARLOTTE – A late touchdown on classic improvisation by QB Aaron Rodgers gave the Packers a 14-10 lead over the Panthers at halftime on Sunday in Charlotte.
Here's a recap of the first half.
The Packers and Panthers traded TD drives in the first quarter and headed to the second tied at 7.
The Panthers won the toss and deferred. The Packers got one first down on a 12-yard pass from QB Aaron Rodgers to WR Davante Adams on the first play, but went three-and-out from there. Rodgers' third-down pass over the middle for WR Randall Cobb was broken up by a big hit from S Kurt Coleman, and Green Bay punted.
The Panthers got going on a 10-yard run by RB Christian McCaffrey and a 9-yard pass from QB Cam Newton to TE Greg Olsen. On third-and-9, Newton scrambled and got the first down by an inch or so, putting the ball near midfield. The on third-and-5, Newton hit McCaffrey on a wheel route out of the backfield for 20 yards to the Green Bay 24.
Newton hit McCaffrey again on third-and-2 for 9 yards, making it first-and-goal from the 9. On second down, Newton found McCaffrey yet again – the rookie's ninth touch on the drive – for a 7-yard TD reception. McCaffrey had 60 yards (20 rushing, 40 receiving) on the 85-yard drive that took 15 plays and 7:35 off the clock.
Rodgers began Green Bay's next drive with a 10-yard pass to Adams and a 23-yard pass to Cobb into Carolina territory. After a 7-yard scramble by Rodgers, RB Jamaal Williams ran for 9 yards and another first down. An 8-yard scramble by Rodgers set up third-and-2 from the 16, and Williams plowed ahead to convert.
Just before third-and-9 from the 13, the Packers called timeout, and then Rodgers found Adams wide open in the end zone to tie the game on the final play of the quarter.
Carolina began the second quarter with a 9-yard pass to RB Jonathan Stewart on a screen, and three straight runs by Stewart for 15 yards. The Packers then gave the Panthers a first down with back-to-back offside penalties on LB Clay Matthews and DT Kenny Clark before Newton hit Olsen for 14 yards to the Green Bay 28.
On third-and-5, Newton hit McCaffrey for 11 yards to the 12. LB Ahmad Brooks tackled Stewart for a 4-yard loss on second down, setting up third-and-14 from the 15, and Newton's pass for WR Devin Funchess was high. K Graham Gano was good from 33 yards out, and the Panthers led 10-7 with 9:02 left in the half.
Rodgers was intercepted on the second play of the next drive, as he tried to throw off-balance to Adams, and CB Daryl Worley picked it off. Carolina took over on its own 39, but Green Bay's defense responded with a three-and-out, and the Panthers punted.
From his own 10, Rodgers hit Adams for 9 yards, and then RB Aaron Jones scooted through a hole for 23 yards to the Green Bay 42. Jones broke off another run for 20, but Rodgers threw incomplete to Allison on third-and-9 from the Carolina 37. The Packers tried to draw the Panthers offside and took a delay of game before punting. P Justin Vogel's punt was downed at the Carolina 5.
On third-and-7, Newton scrambled for the first down, barely reaching the marker. On the ensuing third-and-9, LB Blake Martinez nearly intercepted a pass over the middle for McCaffrey, and the Panthers punted. After a 13-yard return by WR Trevor Davis, the Packers took over on their own 42 with 1:55 left in the half.
Rodgers hit Adams for 13 and TE Richard Rodgers for 9 to start the drive. After Williams plowed ahead for 3 and a first down, a scrambling Rodgers flipped the ball to Cobb, who dodged tacklers all the way for a 33-yard touchdown with 26 seconds left. K Mason Crosby's PAT put the Packers up, 14-10.