GREEN BAY—The Packers are feeling a lot better about themselves than they did at the start of the week or, in Aaron Rodgers’ case, in the hours on Sunday morning leading up to the team’s game at Lambeau Field.
“I didn’t feel great before the game,” Rodgers told reporters following a 38-20 win over the Washington Redskins that wasn’t as close as the final score would suggest. “My neck was sore and stiff. I was hurting pretty bad.”
A week that began with the sting of another loss to the 49ers and a day that began with a pain in the neck ended with Rodgers and James Starks combining to do something no quarterback-running back combination had previously done in the storied history of the Green Bay Packers: They combined to become the first players to throw for 400 yards and rush for 100 yards in a game.
Neither Starr and Taylor, nor Favre and Levens or Green had done it. The record belongs to Rodgers and Starks, following a game in which Rodgers tied the franchise’s all-time, regular-season pass yards record, and Starks’ 132 yards rushing made him the first Packers runner to reach the 100-yard mark in a regular-season game since Brandon Jackson did it in Washington in 2010.
“We feel pretty good about ourselves after today,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said following a performance that included 580 total net yards, 28 first downs, 70 total plays, a five-minute time of possession advantage and a 31-0 lead that likely would’ve been 38-0 had James Jones not lost control of the ball as he reached to touch it to the pylon.
“Very pleased with our performance. Lambeau Field was awesome, as always,” McCarthy said of a record-setting day that included the largest home crowd in Packers history, 78,020.
A day that began with a steady rain concluded with bright skies and a fresh outlook for a team that evened its record at 1-1 and eased a lot of its pain.
“That’s the design,” McCarthy said when asked about the manner in which Rodgers made it all look so easy. “We want to be 70-plus plays. I kind of took my foot off the gas. I was very pleased with the way the ball was spread around.”
Jones caught 11 passes for 178 yards, a week after being shut out.
Randall Cobb caught nine for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Jermichael Finley grabbed six for 65 yards and a touchdown, and broke three tackles on one play.
Rodgers, of course, was the No. 1 star of the game. He completed 34 of 42 passes for 480 yards, four touchdowns and a 146.0 passer rating.
“Aaron spoils you. He makes it look easy. He was on point all day,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy took his foot off the gas with Rodgers tied with Matt Flynn for the all-time yards passing record. It appeared to be intentional, but McCarthy said he wasn’t aware Rodgers and Flynn were deadlocked at 480 yards.
“I don’t mind sharing that with an old buddy of mine, Matt Flynn,” said Rodgers, who was also unaware of the circumstances when the Packers began kneeling on the ball in the final two minutes of the game. “I’m sure I’ll get a text message.”
Record-setting performances have become somewhat routine for Rodgers, but not for Starks. His performance against the Redskins is a rebirth of sorts for a somewhat forgotten running back that topped the 100-yard rushing mark in the 2010 postseason.
“In training camp, he was definitely on the bubble, but he kept a good attitude. He’s gotten better every year. This is the kind of performance we could see every week in practice,” Rodgers said of Starks, who wasn’t in the starting lineup on Sunday but was called on after just the sixth play of the game, when starting running back Eddie Lacy sustained a concussion following a vicious head shot from Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather.
“He’s just been a pro,” McCarthy said of Starks. “I think he clearly had his best training camp.
“When the runner gets clean looks, we expect production, and that’s what we had today.”
The run-pass combination, which was complemented by a smothering defense for most of the game and a clear special teams advantage, gave the Packers a sweep of all three phases of the game.
“I feel good about the start and even more excited about what lies ahead,” McCarthy said. Complete game coverage