This Aaron Rodgers guy is pretty good. The Green Bay Packers got the home season rolling with a 38-20 blowout of a fellow defending division champion in the Washington Redskins as Rodgers riddled the visitors with a franchise record tying and personal best 480 passing yards. He had 335 by intermission and already had thrown three of his four touchdown passes. Not bad for a guy who said he must have slept funny because he woke up Sunday with a stiff neck. A pre-game adjustment from the team chiropractor and off he went into the history books. The Redskin secondary was overmatched at nearly every turn. James Jones, shut out last week in San Francisco, reeled in a career best 11 catches for a gaudy 178 yards. Randall Cobb had 9 for 128 and the first touchdown, a 35 yard crossing route on 4th and 3 in the opening quarter. Jermichael Finley had six catches for 65 yards and a score, Jordy Nelson caught only three, but two were in the end zone. And the capper to the aerial circus....a ground game. After Eddie Lacy left the game with a concussion on a Brandon Merriweather hit to the head, following his only carry, a 10 yarder, the forgotten man, James Starks took over. Starks was the last back to record a 100 yard rushing day, in the playoffs against Philadelphia in the Super Bowl run of 2010, but it had been 44 regular season games since the century mark was pierced. That was by Brandon Jackson in October of 2010, against, of all teams, the Redskins. Starks piled up 132 yards on 20 carries, capped by a 32 yard touchdown dash in the third quarter to close out the Green Bay scoring. All told, Green Bay's offense racked up 580 yards on 70 snaps with 28 first downs.
Lest we forget the defense. Coming off a rough day against a rogue quarterback, they saw another in Robert Griffen III but unlike Colin Kaepernick, RGIII couldn't get it done while it was still a game. In the first half, he was just six of 13 for 107 yards with an interception and a passer rating of 42.8. 44 of those yards came on one Pierre Garcon catch. The Packers held Washington without a third down conversion on five tries in the first half. With a 31-0 lead, the defense softened, didn't allow a quick touchdown over their heads and the Redskins finally were able to find some operating room. Alfred Morris kept running hard, finishing with 107 yards and Griffen did throw three touchdown passes, but it was all moot points. Defensive end Mike Neal got the interception on a play he told me was all wrong. He never heard the signal, dropped into coverage and caught a deflected ball. Davon House had the only sack for the Pack, in the third quarter.
The Packers righted the ship in a big way before a Lambeau Field record crowd of 78,020 that endured a steady rain during their tailgate party.
Afterwards, I made my way to Mike McCarty's press conference and into the locker room to gather the quotes:
Lacy was diagnosed with a concussion on the Merriweather hit and did not return. Merriweather himself was concussed later in the game on a hit with James Starks and did not return. The only other injury reported by the Pack was a hamstring pull suffered by John Kuhn. Morgan Burnett was again inactive after practicing on a limited basis last week. McCarthy said he just wasn't ready to go. The other inactives were Jarrett Bush, Casey Hayward, Nate Palmer, Lane Taylor, Josh Boyd and C.J. Wilson.
I counted 28 members of the Glory Years teams of the 60's in attendance for alumni day, all were introduced at halftime. The biggest cheers went to Willie Davis, now in a wheelchair and Bart Starr who came out of the tunnel last.
Next up for the Packers, a trip to Cincinnati to meet the Bengals. The last time we were there, a fan ran onto the field and took the ball away from Brett Favre while a play was in progress. Ahh, the Queen City awaits.