GAME RECAP (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL)
(GREEN BAY) - The ball belonged to quarterback Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers with 2 minutes, 37 seconds remaining. A touchdown was needed to tie the game and, perhaps, force overtime. So Rivers went to work doing exactly the same thing he had all game long, dicing the defense of the Green Bay Packers for chunks of yards. He connected with tight end Antonio Gates for a first down on the very first play, linked with running back Danny Woodhead one play later to move the sticks yet again. He went back to Gates a second time, then a third time over the middle to reach the Packers’ 39-yard line. Then Woodhead for another first down. Gates again over the middle. Pitch and catch against a lethargic, wilting defense. With his passing yardage soaring above 500 and his pass attempts north of 60, Rivers maneuvered deep into Green Bay territory with the clock dwindling below a minute. He reached the 2-yard line and fired incomplete for Gates. Third and goal. Woodhead is slammed inside by defensive end Datone Jones for a loss. Fourth and goal from the 3-yard line, game on the line. Rivers threw right intended for Woodhead, and rookie Damarious Randall knocks the ball away. The Packers survive, 27-20, and remain undefeated.
Player of the Game: Philip Rivers. Despite missing 60% of the starters along the offensive line, Rivers was at his very best Sunday and showed why he is among the elite at the quarterback position. In blending quick passes with longer heaves Rivers both neutralized the pass rush of the Packers and took advantage of a secondary that was suspect when asked to cover for more than a few seconds. He finished with herculean numbers: 43-of-65 for 605 yards and two touchdowns.
Turning point: With Rivers and the Chargers marching down the field for an easy touchdown on their opening possession of the second half, connecting on passes for gains of 50 yards, 14 yards and 19 yards, a game the Packers controlled early was suddenly tied. Yet despite another injury to a key offensive player — receiver Ty Montgomery — and without much of anything from tailback Eddie Lacy, the offense responded with a gutty 7-play, 69-yard drive for a touchdown. Rodgers strung together lengthy completions to Randall Cobb and John Kuhn, while James Starks gobbled up important chunks on the ground. The drive ended when Rodgers connected with James Jones on a back-shoulder throw for an 8-yard touchdown that gave the Packers a 24-17 lead.
Big number: 14 — Receptions for Chargers’ wide receiver Keenan Allen, whose terrific hands and routes shredded the secondary all game long. Allen came into Sunday with two games of 12-plus catches already this season, and he nearly matched that feat in the first half. Allen had more catches by halftime (11) than the Packers did as a team (9). He left the game in the second half due to injury, returning briefly, and finished with 157 receiving yards.
What went right: While their pass rush was largely absent, the Packers put together yet another impressive performance defending the run for the third time in the last four games. Running backs Marshawn Lynch, Carlos Hyde and now former Wisconsin star Melvin Gordon were all stifled. Gordon, drafted in the first round by the Chargers, carried just seven times for 29 yards and fumbled twice, which sent him to the bench in favor of Branden Oliver and Danny Woodhead. But the substitutions paid little in the way of dividends for the Chargers, who finished with 60 yards rushing as a team and became entirely one-dimensional. Quarterback Philip Rivers carried the offense almost by himself.
What went wrong: After entering Sunday with 20 sacks as a team, and after bludgeoning quarterbacks Nick Foles and Colin Kaepernick the previous two games, the Packers’ pass rush was almost nonexistent for the first three quarters against the Chargers. Gone were the unblockable rushes off the edge from the likes of Julius Peppers, Mike Neal and Jayrone Elliott, and in their place were plenty of clean pockets for Philip Rivers. The absence of nose tackle B.J. Raji, who missed the game with a groin injury, was noticeable as well. Rivers responded beautifully, slinging the football with ease to all parts of the field. He reached 300 yards on the first possession of the second half and finished 43-of-65 for 503 yards and two touchdowns. And don’t forget the Chargers were missing three starters along the offensive line.
SAN DIEGO GREEN BAY
First downs 32 17
Rushes-yards 21-60 17-133
Net Passing yards 488 237
Passing (Att-Comp-Int) 65-43-0 29-16-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 3-15 3-18
Punts-Average 3-39.0 4-40.5
Fumbles 2-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 9-76 6-50
Time of Possession 38:00 22:00
SAN DIEGO - 3 7 7 3 - 20
GREEN BAY - 14 3 7 3 - 27
1st - GB - James Starks, 5-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 7-0
1st - SD - Josh Lambo, 36-yard field goal GREEN BAY 7-3
1st - GB - Starks, 65-yard run (Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 14-3
2nd - GB - Crosby, 23-yard field goal GREEN BAY 17-3
2nd - SD - Dontrelle Inman, 1-yard pass from Phillip Rivers (Lambo kick) GREEN BAY 17-10
3rd - SD - Ladarius Green, 19-yard pass from Rivers (Lambo kick) TIED 17-17
3rd - GB - James Jones, 8-yard pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 24-17
4th - SD - Lambo, 32-yard field goal GREEN BAY 24-20
4th - GB - Crosby, 28-yard field goal GREEN BAY 27-20
GREEN BAY - James Starks 10-112 1 TD, Aaron Rodgers 2-14, Ty Montgomer 1-4, Eddie Lacy 4-3
SAN DIEGO - Melvin Gordon 7-29, Branden Oliver 7-23, Danny Woodhead 7-8
GREEN BAY - Aaron Rodgers 29-16-255 2 TD
SAN DIEGO - Phillip Rivers 65-43-503 2 TD
GREEN BAY - Jeff Janis 2-79, Randall Cobb 2-38, Richard Rodgers 2-34, James Jones 2-30 1 TD, John Kuhn 2-20, Eddie Lacy 2-17, Ty Montgomery 2-11, Justin Perillo 1-21, James Starks 1-5 1 TD
SAN DIEGO - Kennan Allen 14-157, Antonio Gates 9-95, Malcolm Floyd 5-95, Danny Woodhead 5-63, Branden Oliver 4-40, Ladarius Green 3-35 1 TD, Dontrelle Inman 3-18 1 TD