(WLAX/WEUX) – After Green Bay’s meltdown in Tampa Bay, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said the Packers needed a kick in the hindquarters, to put it politely, on a family-oriented website.
The team had a better week of practice and took care of business on the road against an inferior Houston Texans team Sunday, 35-20.
With the victory, Green Bay improves to 5-1 and is tied atop the NFC North standings with the Chicago Bears, who play tonight in Los Angeles against the Rams.
The now 1-6 Texans’ defense simply had no answer for the duo of Davante Adams and Rodgers—especially on third down. Adams had a magnificent game, catching 13 passes for a career-high 196 yards and two touchdowns. But even more impressive was that seven of those receptions and 124 of those yards and both scores came on third down.
Adams said after the game that it was important to, “Get going early. . . get me going so I’m able to produce for this offense.” It was baffling why the Texans continually tried to cover Adams one-on-one, making it easy for Rodgers to audible to take advantage of frequent mismatches.
Rodgers is quite comfortable in the Texans’ home stadium.
In 2012, Rodgers lit up Houston for 338 yards and six touchdowns. On Sunday, he returned and completed 23 of 34 passes for 283 yards and four touchdowns for a 132.4 rating and showcased the special bond he has with Adams.
Rodgers enjoyed stellar protection from a reshuffled offensive line minus David Bakhtiari and solid production from Jamaal Williams, who totaled 114 yards (19 carries for 77 yards, four catches for 37) in starting for the injured Aaron Jones.
“We’re fortunate to have three guys capable of carrying the load,” head coach Matt LaFleur said of Williams. “We can count on him.”
Green Bay’s “bend but don’t break” defense was also instrumental in the victory with timely stops, though the special teams units fared poorly, allowing a blocked punt and the recovery of an onside kick.
A patch-work Packers defense—down starters Kevin King and Darnell Savage to start the game—rose up to hold Houston’s potent Deshaun Watson-led offense to 20 points despite adjusting personnel due to in-game injuries.
The explosive Texans passing game was held in check, and Green Bay allowed only 79 yards rushing and 364 overall to a team averaging 428 yards in the past three games and more than 24 points per game on the season.
Green Bay made several crucial second-half stops in the red zone: Adrian Amos’ sack of Watson on third down to force a field goal to make it 28-10; after a blocked Packers punt, Vernon Scott’s tackle of Duke Johnson to force another field goal; and Preston Smith’s solo tackle of Watson short of the marker on 4th-and-1 to secure the victory.
“That was huge, especially with a team kind of up against it there,” Rodgers said. “It’s such a tall task to have timely stops, but there’s a lot of guys playing really good football on that side of the ball. Maybe nobody as good as 23 (Jaire Alexander, matched up against Will Fuller). I think he deserves a lot of respect and appreciation for the way that he’s played against some really talented receivers the last few weeks.”
Next up: the Vikings at Lambeau Field at 12 noon Sunday, in a contest televised exclusively in Western Wisconsin by FOX 25/48.