Rodgers, who regularly uses a hard count to keep the defense off-balance, got the 49ers to jump offsides five times on Sunday, including three times in the second quarter alone during Green Bay’s 34-16 win.
“They were just a little jumpy today,” Rodgers said. “I feel like the hard count is part of our game that’s important. It’s something we do every week. Obviously when you’re at home you have more of an opportunity to get those guys to jump a little bit.”
The Packers took advantage in a big way in the second quarter. Just three snaps after the 49ers jumped offsides for the second time in the game, they did it again on third-and-1. Only this time, unlike some of the others, the play wasn’t whistled dead and Rodgers heaved a deep pass to receiver Greg Jennings, who turned it into a 57-yard touchdown to give the Packers a 7-6 lead.
“That’s a part of our game that we practice, we work on,” Rodgers said. “When they jump, take a shot down the field. Greg made a great catch-and-run on the touchdown to really get us going, and then we had a couple others they decided to blow (dead).”
One of those came late in the second quarter, on a third-and-10 from the Green Bay 34. Rodgers again tried to go deep, this time to James Jones, and Jones made a juggling catch for a big gain deep into San Francisco territory.
But the officials ruled that someone on the Green Bay offensive line moved as a result of the neutral-zone infraction, so there was no play. As Jennings was being interviewed by reporters after the game, Jones (whose locker is next to his) could be heard loudly but jokingly in the background lamenting that his big play didn’t count while Jennings’ did.
All kidding aside, even Rodgers agreed the play to Jones should have counted, and he didn’t like the fact that an offsides call in the first quarter led to a whistle because the San Francisco defender was “unabated to the quarterback,” which didn’t allow Rodgers to run a play.
“He was kind of close,” Rodgers said. “But I say let it go.”
Rodgers actually drew the 49ers offsides six times in the game, but on one of them he ended up getting called for a false start because he started to pull away from center without the ball after the 49ers’ defensive line entered the neutral zone.
An offensive lineman is allowed to flinch in that situation, and the call goes against the defense. But referee Bill Leavy explained that the quarterback is “unprotected” by that rule, so Rodgers’ flinch cost the offense 5 yards in that instance.
With another 30 passes without an interception on Sunday, Rodgers ran his interception-free streak to 177 attempts, 18 better than his previous career-long. That streak moved him past Brett Favre’s 163-pass streak to become the second-longest in team history behind Bart Starr’s streak of 294 passes without an INT.
Rodgers hasn’t thrown an interception five straight starts, and Starr is the the last Packers quarterback to accomplish that (1966).
Rodgers threw nine interceptions in this season’s first seven games, more than his regular-season total of seven last year, but hasn’t thrown one since late in the second quarter against Minnesota back in Week 7.
“I’m just not throwing it to them as often, and thankfully the last couple weeks they dropped a couple,” Rodgers said, referring in part to one at the Metrodome two weeks ago against the Vikings near the goal line. “That’s always nice.
“It’s a conscious effort to not turn the ball over. It’s the first thing we talk about every week on offense is having a no-turnover game, and we expect to win when we do that. You look at the last five weeks, I haven’t thrown a pick. But in the game we had a turnover, last week I fumbled (in Atlanta), we lost the game. When we don’t turn it over, we’re going to win most of those games.”
The Packers have lost only twice with Rodgers as the starting quarterback when they haven’t turned the ball over (at Minnesota in 2008, at Pittsburgh in 2009). Dating back to 1996, the Packers are now 46-4, including playoffs, when they don’t have a turnover.
Good day, bad day
Defensive end Cullen Jenkins had his first two-sack game of the season and pushed his season total to seven sacks, a new career high, surpassing his 6½ back in 2006.
But Jenkins re-aggravated his troublesome calf muscle in the fourth quarter on Sunday and was taken to the locker room on a cart before the game ended. Jenkins missed time in training camp with the calf problem, then missed the Minnesota game in Week 7 when he re-injured it during warm-ups, and now he may be sidelined again.
After the game, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he didn’t know the severity of the injury but would have more information on Monday.
The only other injuries McCarthy reported were knee sprains to fullback Korey Hall and receiver Brett Swain.
Spreading the wealth
Following Donald Driver’s four receptions Sunday and Jordy Nelson’s two, the Packers for the first time in franchise history have four wide receivers with at least 35 receptions in one season. Both Driver and Nelson came into Sunday’s game with 34 catches.
Jennings leads the team with 57 receptions, followed by Driver with 38, Jones with 37 and Nelson with 36. The Packers have an additional pass-catcher with 35 receptions as well in running back Brandon Jackson, who now has 36.
The last time the Packers had five players, regardless of position, with at least 35 catches in one season was 1997 (receivers Antonio Freeman and Robert Brooks, running backs Dorsey Levens and William Henderson, and tight end Mark Chmura).