Packers beat Rams 30-20, move to 4-3
By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider.com senior editor
~ST. LOUIS — Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers made themselves right at home in another dome, this time the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
Backed by a huge block of cheeseheads who were every bit as loud as the real home fans, Rodgers carved up and silenced the Rams for three touchdowns and over 300 yards again.
Green Bay’s depleted defense limited the Rams to one meaningful touchdown and one late one in a 30-20 victory on Sunday.
Emerging star Randall Cobb caught two touchdown passes and last season’s emerging wide receiver Jordy Nelson had eight receptions for a season-best 122 yards for the Packers (4-3).
Rookie Casey Hayward made his first start in place of injured Sam Shields and intercepted his fourth pass in three games. Second-year corner Davon House got some action on defense for the first time this season after suffering a shoulder injury in preseason. He gained some experience and made a few nice plays, before getting torched on a slant and go for the late touchdown. House will learn that he is allowed to get his hands on receivers within the five yard zone, and depending on the ref, much further than five yards.
The Packers ended the Texans’ unbeaten start at Houston last week, but had alternated losses and wins the first six weeks. Rodgers was 30 for 37 for 342 yards in his fourth 300-yard game this season. His passer rating was 132.2, coupled with the sharp effort last week in Houston, Rodgers is rolling into 2011 form, and doing so without number one wide receiver Greg Jennings. Jennings missed another game resting his injured groing.
Steven Jackson ran for his first touchdown of the year, and just the Rams’ 10th overall, to trim the deficit to a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. But Rodgers made a sensational throw to Cobb for a 39-yard pass that put the Packers up by two scores with 3:06 to go.
Rookie wideout Chris Givens had a 56-yard reception for St. Louis on a screen pass in the fourth quarter, his fourth straight game with a 50-yard plus reception. Fellow rookie Greg Zuerlein kicked a 50-yard field goal.
Rodgers’ numbers were not nearly as flashy as last week, when he tied the franchise record with six touchdowns and no interceptions. But he was very efficient while leading an offense heavily tilted to the pass game and went 9 for 14 on third down.
The Rams were undefeated in the Edward Jones Dome. They opened the home schedule with victories over the Redskins, Seahawks and Cardinals, limiting opponents to 14.7 points per game.
Green Bay played without four defensive starters. Shields (shin, ankle), linebacker Nick Perry (knee) and tackle B.J. Raji (ankle) were inactive. Linebacker D.J. Smith was recently placed on injured reserve. Original starting linebacker Desmond Bishop missed the whole season with an injury suffered in the first game of preseason back in August.
St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford was 21 for 34 for 255 yards and an interception, and was sacked three times behind a patchwork line with just two starters left from the opener. Bradford threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Austin Pettis with 3 seconds to go.
After dominating in time of possession in the first half, holding the ball for more than 18 minutes, the Rams ran just seven plays in the third quarter and were held to minus-7 yards while the Packers had 129 yards and 11:39 in time of possession.
Nelson wrapped up his second straight 100-yard game early in the third quarter, often picking on rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Cobb threw a nice fake on Jenkins in the end zone on a 5-yard catch that put the Packers up 17-6 midway through the third.
Rodgers completed his first nine passes for 115 yards, including a 52-yarder to Nelson that set up a 3-yarder for Nelson’s fourth score in two games. The first incompletion came with just over six minutes left in the half when Rodgers slightly overthrew James Jones on a sideline pattern, with Jones able to get just his fingertips on the ball.
Here’s another perspective to make Packer nation feel even giddier: Not only has Rodgers and this offense started to roll again, without Jennings, but did you notice Jermichael Finley was not a featured guy? There were no drops by Finley, no sulking, no blaming anyone else. Harmony.
While Alex Green doesn’t see the lanes like Cedric Benson was starting to, remember that Benson is expected back in December, while Jennings will be back before that.