Missing six starters did not slow down the Green Bay Packers en-route to their 30-20 victory at St Louis Sunday. The Rams suffer their first home loss of the year and are 3-4 overall. Green Bay improves to 4-3.
While the game was at St. Louis there was clearly a large contingent of Packer fans. Evident every time John Kuhn touched the ball and calls of KUUUUUHHHNN echoed throughout the dome.
The first half was a game of two teams executing their game plan. Green Bay fast moving, no huddle, quick passes, some runs, and big plays. St. Louis methodical, keeping the ball away from the potent Packer offense. Both teams executed really well, which lead to a close 10-6 Packer lead with each team missing a scoring opportunity.
St. Louis drove to the Packer 14-yard line. Facing a 4th-and-2 they went for it, over kicking the field goal. Sam Bradford threw a strike to Brandon Gibson on a quick slant but it was broken up by Davon House who stripped the ball out of the grip of Gibson.
With 0:40 left from their own 15-yard line Green Bay was able to drive for a 58-yard field goal attempt. The kick, by Mason Crosby, was not even close. It probably had the distance but was way wide right of the uprights.
Green Bay played almost the entire half using a no huddle offense from the shotgun. Aaron Rodgers started the game a perfect 9-for-9 and finished the half 13-of-15 for 165 yards and a touchdown.
The Rams controlled the ball for 18:06 of the half and had 16 running plays to 15 passes. Like last week, St. Louis racked up yards, 190 of them, but could not get into the end zone.
The lone touchdown of the half was a Rodgers back shoulder bullet to Jordy Nelson in the firrst quarter.
The Packer field goal came immediately after, when Green Bay recovered an onside kick following the touchdown, driving 20 yards on six plays.
St. Louis seems very vulnerable to the onside kick. It was attempted on them three weeks ago by Seattle, to the same side as the Packers attempt. Three weeks ago they were lucky to recover it. No such luck today. Just three Rams were to the right side. A perfectly placed kick by Crosby allowed about eight Packer players to annihilate the three Rams on that side and they had no chance to recover the ball.
Robert Quinn had one of the Rams three sacks of the first half but was creating havoc all game long. He was eating up Packer left tackle Marshall Newhouse for the entire game. But Rodgers was getting the ball out fast and moving just enough to avoid even more sacks.
The second half was the opposite of the first. Green Bay controlled the ball and St. Louis had the longest play of 56 yards on a wide receiver screen to the speedy Chris Givens. A play that set up the first touchdown of the day for St. Louis, a five yard Steven Jackson run. It was the first rushing touchdown by a running back this season for St. Louis. That touchdown pulled St. Louis within 7, 20-13.
It was the fourth straight game Givens and Bradford hooked up for a play of 50 yards or more. The Packers held the ball for just over 21 minutes in the second half.
Green Bay had scored 10 second half points before the Jackson score. The first came on the opening second half drive, a 12 play 80-yard drive culminating in a 5-yard toss form Rodgers to a wide open Randall Cobb in the middle of the end zone. The drive chewed up seven minutes.
"We had one of our best drives of the season, for sure," Rodgers said. "It wasn't the prettiest drive, but we converted a lot of third downs. That was a very key drive for us and a good one to look back on as we watch the film tomorrow."
Like the start of the first half, Rodgers was on point. Going 7-of-7 on the drive and was brilliant all game finishing 30-of-37, for 342 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, and a 132.2 passer rating. Rodgers has nine touchdowns in the last two games and leads the NFL in passer rating, and touchdowns.
Green Bay followed the St. Louis touchdown with another of their own. Rodgers was flushed to his left and lofted a perfect pass to Cobb for a 39-yard score.
Austin Pettis grabbed his first NFL touchdown in garbage time with :15 left in the game. St. Louis had 74 of their 354 total yards of the game on that final drive.
The Packers stuck with the run all game long, despite little success, 24 carries amounting to just 60 yards, 20 of which came on a Cobb end around.
Nelson led all receivers catching eight balls for a score and 122 yards. Cobb is the only NFL receiver to receive eight targets or more and catch them all. He did it in week one and again on Sunday. There were eight of them that accounted for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
Rookie Casey Heyward, who I predicted would be starting and making plays before seasons end, snagged his league leading fourth interception. during this first start of the season for the injured Sam Shields. Heyward is going to be very good for a long time.
Bradford was 20-of-32 for 252 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, and a 82.4 passer rating. Givens had 73 yards on three grabs and Gibson had a team high 5 catches for 60 yards.
Steven Jackson led all rushers with 57 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Greg Zuerlein made his fifth 50 plus yard field goal of 2012 and was a perfect 2-of-2 after going 2-of-5 a week ago.