Packers stay unbeaten, beat Chargers 45-38 in shootout in San Diego
By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider senior editor
~The ‘not athletic enough’ Charlie Peprah intercepted a Philip Rivers pass in the first quarter and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown, giving the Packers their first lead of the game, 14-7 over San Diego.
Then with under a half-minute to go in the game, with a different 7-point lead, Peprah again intercepted a Rivers pass deep in Packer territory, returned it 76 yards to seal the thrilling victory, 45-38, and move the champions to 8-0.
The Packers led by 21 points early in the fourth quarter before Rivers threw touchdown passes of 5 and 29 yards to Jackson in the span of 1:07 midway through the quarter, sandwiched around a very fortunate onside kick recovery in which Packer tight end Tom Crabtree couldn’t field the bouncing ball.
Once again, the quarterback was sensational. Aside from taking too many sacks and risking injury, Aaron Rodgers was video-game like, with four touchdown passes against five total incompletions. He also took advantage of the Chargers press coverages to run for
Rodgers completed 21 of 26 passes for 247 yards and ran his NFL-leading total to 24 TD throws. He had scoring passes of 5 yards to Jermichael Finley, 16 to Jordy Nelson, 21 to James Jones and 4 to Greg Jennings.
“I think Aaron has a lot of strengths. His decision-making is clearly the highest level that I have personally been a part of,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of his Super Bowl MVP quarterback.
Rodgers, who lives in the San Diego suburb of Del Mar in the offseason, was more impressed with the high percentage of cheeseheads in the sellout crowd than being the NFL’s only perfect team.
“The crowd was incredible,” Rodgers said. “When you’re on the road and up by seven and it’s late in the game and they have to go on a silent count, that’s pretty impressive. I have to give a lot of credit to our fans the way they travel. It says a lot about the kind of fans we have.”
In between Peprah’s two interceptions, aside from Tramon Williams’ pick-six the very next pass after Rivers first pick to Peprah, the Packers defense was atrocious. It was very reminiscent of the 2009 season playoff loss, 51-45, at Kurt Warner’s Arizona Cardinals. All that took was one sack-fumble of Rodgers to turn an otherwise brilliant performance by Rodgers into a season-ending loss.
The Packers defense continues to make opposing quarterbacks look at their best, aside from the turnovers. Turnovers are huge of course, but not being able to force any punts is never a good thing.
“We’re a pressure defense, so we’re going to give up some big plays. But we feel we’re going to make some, too,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade a perfect defense for a win, so I’ll take the W and we’ll clean up that stuff later.”
The win keeps the Packers undefeated, at 8-0. In the NFC, that only leads San Francisco by a single game, and the New York Giants and Detroit Lions both just have 2 losses. Of the Packers remaining 3 road games, 2 of them are against the Lions and Giants.