ST. LOUIS—It took seven games to get there, but the Packers are finally above .500 and looking very much as they did a year ago, which is to say headed for a winning streak.
“Win back to back, stack success; that was our message all week,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said following his team’s 30-20 win over the St. Louis Rams in the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday.
The win was led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who continued the hot hand he started a week earlier in Houston by completing 30 of 37 passes for 342 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a sizzling 132.2 passer rating. Rodgers out-pointed his quarterback counterpart Sam Bradford by nearly 50 ratings points.
Randall Cobb caught two of Rodgers’ touchdown passes and the second-year wide receiver is an emerging star at a time when the team has found itself playing without long-time star receiver Greg Jennings.
“He’s a star in the making. He’s a big-time player. He has the right approach. He sees the game through the eyes of the quarterback,” Rodgers said of Cobb, who caught all eight of the passes thrown to him. His 39-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter clinched the win and capped an impressive 80-yard drive that answered a Rams touchdown that cut the Packers’ lead to seven points.
It was one of two impressive second-half drives by the Packers. The other one was an 80-yard classic that began the second half and turned a precarious 10-6 halftime advantage into a 17-6 lead that caused the large contingent of Packers fans on hand to breathe a little easier.
“Our fans are unbelievable. You would’ve thought we were walking down one of our streets. You never get tired of hearing, ‘Go Pack Go!’ Thank you, fans,” McCarthy said.
The Rams likely got tired of seeing Rodgers throw drive-sustaining (nine of 15 on third down) completions to Jordy Nelson along the sideline. It was a 52-yard completion to Nelson in the first quarter that led to the Packers’ first score, which eliminated a 3-0 Rams lead. The Rams were offside on the play and sensing he had a “free” play, Rodgers went for the big play and dropped the ball softly into Nelson’s hands.
“We were a little disjointed to start the game,” McCarthy said of his team’s no-huddle offense. “We went back to our standard huddle in the second half.”
McCarthy took an aggressive game plan into the game. Following the Packers’ first touchdown, McCarthy ordered an onside kick attempt that kicker Mason Crosby bounced off the ground and high into the air, allowing the Packers to make the recovery. It led to a field goal and a 10-3 lead.
“They were ready to play,” McCarthy said of the Rams. “They got after us in the first series. I felt it was a good time to steal a series.”
A strong Rams running game allowed the home team to dominate time of possession in the first half, which limited the Packers’ snaps and helped keep the score close. After allowing 93 net yards rushing in the first half, the Packers held the Rams to 15 yards in the second half and forced the Rams to pass.
The Packers defense is playing its best football since 2010, but Rodgers and the passing game remains the engine that drives the Packers to victory. Nelson caught eight passes for 122 yards and James Jones caught six for 53.
“Our running game efficiency isn’t where it needs to be. After we settled down, our pass protection was good,” McCarthy said.
Does he feel the team is getting into a groove as midseason nears?
“We’ve won two games in a row. I’m tired of the big-picture questions. We are clearly about one game at a time.”
Additional coverage - Oct. 21