Packers spank Panthers, move to 5-2
By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider.com senior editor
~The Packers jumped all over the Carolina Panthers early and often Sunday, streaking out to a 28-0 lead en route to a 38-17 win.
Aaron Rodgers was nearly perfect Sunday at Lambeau Field, going 19-22 for 255 yards and 3 touchdowns and again, no interceptions. His passer rating was 154.5. He even chipped in 21 yards rushing, including a key first down early in the game.
The defense did their part as well, holding the Panthers to 3 points until the Panthers scored a pair of garbage-time touchdowns in the final 9 minutes after the game was 38-3.
Jordy Nelson opened the scoring by catching a gorgeous pass up the right sideline, and then side-stepping the safety on his way to a 59-yard touchdown. Nelson would have 4 catches for 80 yards in that opening quarter. That would be it for Nelson as Rodgers chose to spread it around after that, wisely.
Randall Cobb led the way with 6 catches and 121 yards, also scoring a touchdown.
Rookie Davante Adams also got into the end zone on his only catch (and only target) for a 21-yard touchdown to open the 3rd quarter and give the Packers a 35-3 lead.
Eddie Lacy and James Starks each rushed for touchdowns as well, in the 1st quarter.
Lacy and Starks combined for 99 yards on 19 carries, 5.2 per carry.
On defense, once again rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix led the way in tackles, with 9. Fellow safety Morgan Burnett was next with 8, including a key stop on a 4th and 1 play where he got in the backfield quickly and made the tackle for loss.
Julius Peppers again had a good game, with 5 tackles and 1.5 sacks. The .5 sack was shared with Clay Matthews, who also got to Cam Newton right away on the same play. Matthews had a good game overall, with a couple of tackles, including a tackle for loss.
Tramon Williams played well coming off the ankle injury last week. Casey Hayward was solid again, with an interception, in place of Sam Shields. The Packers depth at cornerback has proven to come in handy.
This was a good matchup for Shields to be gone, as it allowed Sean Richardson to get on the field. Richardson is the Packers biggest and strongest safety, which came in handy against the physical Panthers.
News & Notes
Next week it’s onto New Orleans and the Drew Brees Show. The Saints blew a game late today in Detroit, up 13 with under 5 minutes to go, they found a way to lose by 1 point.
Brees was picked off to set up the Lions winning score, then Brees was unable to drive into field goal range afterwards to set up a potential winning field goal. It wasn’t all his fault, as the Saints OL had the same problems with the fantastic Lions DL that the Packers did in week 3.
Brees and the Saints offense actually fared better there than the Packers did when the Lions whipped the Packers 19-7.
By winning, the Lions remained tied with the Packers at 5-2. But since they beat the Packers head to head, they’re technically ahead of the Packers at the moment. Remember what looms ahead in week 17? Lions at Packers. It’s a long way to go, but it looms large at the moment.
In Chicago today, the Bears lost their 3rd straight game at home, dropping to 3-4 on the year and 0-3 at home. Their hometown fans were booing them, and there were some shouting fights and arguments among players in the locker room after the game.
A look at the NFC Playoff Contenders:
1- Dallas 6-1
2- Philadelphia 5-1
1- Detroit 5-2
1- Green Bay 5-2
1- Carolina 3-3-1
2- New Orleans 2-4
1- Arizona 5-1
2- San Francisco 4-3
3- Seattle 3-3
It’s way too early, but if the season ended now as it is, the Packers would be the #6 seed, final Wildcard team in, behind the Eagles, and would play at Detroit while the Cowboys and Cardinals would be your top 2 teams getting the byes. A lot is going to change, but isn’t it nice seeing Seattle and San Francisco on the outside-looking-in? Those top 3 teams in the NFC West have yet to start beating each other up yet.