When the Green Bay Packers didn’t draft a wide receiver in the NFL Draft, many thought the Packers offense would be in trouble. But a second year in Matt LaFleur’s system appears to be more important, at least after the first week of the new season.
Aaron Rodgers completed 32-of-44 for 364 yards and four touchdowns in the Packers 43-34 season opening win over the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. Two of the four touchdown receptions were to the Packers number-one receiver, Davante Adams. Adams was targeted 17 times and caught 14 passes, tying Don Hutson’s 1942 franchise record of 14 receptions in a single game.
Rodgers also tossed touchdown passes to Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard, finishing with a quarterback rating of 127.5. His four touchdown passes moved him past Eli Manning and into seventh place on the all-time list with 368.
It was a dominating offensive performance for the Packers, who racked up 522 total yards of offense in the win. They dominated time of possession 41:16 to 18:44 and ran 26 more offensive plays from scrimmage. At one point late in the second quarter, the Packers had run 41 plays to the Vikings 13. Even with Rodgers big passing day, the Packers still rushed for 158 yards as a team.
The Packers offensive line did a good job of giving Rodgers time to throw. He was pressured on just seven of his 44 dropbacks (16%) for the game.
The Packers started the game with second year lineman Elgton Jenkins getting the start at right tackle. Lucas Patrick started at left guard. But injuries to Patrick (shoulder) and right guard Lane Taylor (knee) forced the Packers to shuffle the deck. Jenkins returned to left guard, rookie Jon Runyan moved to right guard and Rick Wagner entered the game at right tackle.
Even with that much shuffling, the offensive line performed well and the Packers didn’t skip a beat.
The Packers defense performed well early, holding their own while the offense took some time to get going. They also pitched a shutout in the third quarter, but the concern comes with the fourth quarter, where they allowed the Vikings to put up 24 points. The Vikings put together touchdown drives of 77, 65 and 75 yards, plus went 3-for-3 on two-point conversions to boot.
“When we’re up on somebody, we can’t relax,” said coach Matt LaFleur. “Not for one second, especially in this league. You see it every week around the league, you see teams battle back. Once that momentum starts going one way, it’s hard to stop.
“I just think it’s going to take better focus from our guys, it’s going to take better coaching from our coaches to make sure that stuff doesn’t happen again.”
The Packers did have some strong individual performances on defense. Defensive back Jaire Alexander collected a sack for a safety and later intercepted a Kirk Cousins pass.
The Packers activated linebacker Krys Barnes from the practice squad on Saturday, then gave him the start at inside linebacker. Barnes finished with four tackles and two assists with two tackles for loss.
In his first start as a Packer, Christian Kirksey finished with six tackles and six assists to lead the way defensively.
The Packers had one other sack besides Alexander’s. That belonged to La’Darius Smith.
The Packers will face the Detroit Lions in their home opener at Lambeau Field this coming Sunday.
AUDIO: Aaron Rodgers on dominating the time of possession :22
AUDIO: Davante Adams had no idea he had tied the franchise record for single game receptions :18
AUDIO: Davante Adams on playing inside empty U.S. Bank Stadium :24
AUDIO: Jaire Alexander on his sack of Kirk Cousins for a safety :11
AUDIO: Matt LaFleur says they came up big after slow start :16