Sports

Aaron Rodgers throws for 4 TDs as Green Bay Packers quiet critics with bounce-back effort vs. Detroit Lions


GREEN BAY, Wis. — Don’t mistake Aaron Rodgers for someone who didn’t care after the Green Bay Packers bombed in their season-opening loss at the New Orleans Saints.

But for those who thought as much — and Rodgers clearly heard those who did — he appeased them after Monday night’s 35-17 win over the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field.

“I think we maybe tried to show that we cared a little bit more tonight,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers wouldn’t say he was bothered by the commentary, but he acknowledged he was well aware of it.

“There’s so many overreactions that happen from a week-to-week basis,” Rodgers said. “So it’s nice to come out, have a good performance and get the trolls off our back for at least a week.”

The Packers avoided their first 0-2 start since the 2006 season, two years before Rodgers even became their starting quarterback, and could have realistically been looking at an 0-3 start considering they play at the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.

They did so by getting back to what they did best last season: a mix of Aaron Jones, although with a twist on Monday night, along with Davante Adams and Robert Tonyan; and, of course, with an on-target Rodgers making it all work.

Jones scored four times, but three of them were receiving touchdowns — the most by an NFL running back in six years. Rodgers finally connected on a deep ball — a 50-yarder — that set up Tonyan’s touchdown catch. The only thing lacking was Marquez Valdes-Scantling going deep, and Rodgers lamented not connecting with him, on more than one occasion, saying, “It kills me that I missed him.”

Still, Rodgers managed to complete 22 of 27 passes (81.5%) for 255 yards and four touchdowns. It was his seventh career game with at least four touchdowns and an 80% completion rate. Only Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, with eight each, have more in NFL history.

“I did think we had a pretty good week of prep,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “I felt pretty good going into our prep versus New Orleans, and certainly when we went out there it didn’t look very good. So our guys, they’re resilient. They’ll continue to battle. We’ve got a lot of veterans, not only on the offense but on the defense, as well; and we gotta continue to improve each and every day and each and every week, and we gotta make sure we take it and look at it one game at a time.

“You can never get too high on yourself in this league because you will be humbled in a hurry, and I think that happened to us a week ago.”

What might please Rodgers and LaFleur the most was that they helped debunk the notion that there’s a blueprint for stopping their offense. The Saints shut them down by rarely blitzing and sitting back in coverage. The Lions tried the same thing.

Detroit blitzed (defined as sending five or more pass-rushers) only five times on Monday, three more than the Saints did.

Where Rodgers struggled against standard pressure last week — 13-of-26 for 126 yards with two interceptions — he thrived against it versus the Lions with 19 of 22 completed passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

“People like to say a lot of bulls—, and it’s nice to come back in here after a game like that,” Rodgers said.



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