Packers defense has Rodgers' back in 22-0 win over Bills
By GENARO C. ARMAS, AP Sports Writer
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Always the perfectionist, that Aaron Rodgers.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback looked a little more mobile playing for a third straight week with a brace on his injured left knee. But he felt like he didn’t have his best day on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
The defense had his back.
The Packers had seven sacks and pitched a shutout for the first time in eight years in a 22-0 win over the Buffalo Bills.
“Yeah, we were championship defensive level and non-playoff team offensive level today. That was not great by any stretch of the imagination,” Rodgers said.
And that was after a shutout.
Rodgers was 22 of 40 for 298 yards with one touchdown. Green Bay (2-1-1) had decisive edges in total offense (423-145) and first downs (22-11).
Rodgers also threw an interception off a deflected pass and fumbled the ball away on a sack early in the fourth quarter. The offense wasn’t as productive in the second half after a fast start.
“It was as bad as we’ve played on offense with that many yards in a long time,” Rodgers said.
When considering that the two-time NFL MVP is playing through an injury, and that the offense didn’t have Randall Cobb because of a sore hamstring, the Packers weren’t actually that bad. Two 52-yard field goals from Mason Crosby helped bail the offense out, too.
“Aaron’s just gutting it out, I thought he played really well,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “I think what he’s fighting through is a tremendous asset to our football team.”
The Bills (1-3) were much worse.
Rookie quarterback Josh Allen accounted for three turnovers, including two interceptions and a fumble late in the fourth quarter that stood on review. He was 16 of 33 for 151 yards.
The Bills had a much tougher time on the road in the NFC North, a week after a stunning win at heavily favored Minnesota.
“I take this one on my shoulders,” Allen said. “We can only go as far as the quarterback goes.”
Buffalo did manage to force Rodgers to throw his first interception of the year . But a 16-0 lead at the half was more than enough cushion against Buffalo’s feeble offense. Even the return of running back LeSean McCoy, who missed a game because of a rib injury, didn’t help Buffalo.
“We were out of rhythm on offense. We needed to find some consistency,” coach Sean McDermott said.
GOING TO GRAHAM
Rodgers and Jimmy Graham connected on their first touchdown pass of the year . Signed in the offseason as a free agent, the athletic tight end made his first official Lambeau Leap after a touchdown earlier this season was wiped out by a flag.
“Usually they come in bunches, so hopefully this is the beginning,” said Graham, who finished with 21 yards on three catches.
Aaron Jones added 65 yards and a score on 11 carries for the Packers, who slowed in the second half after a fast start on offense. A slasher with big-play ability, Jones could eventually emerge as the top ballcarrier in the Packers’ crowded backfield.
A physical defense for Green Bay held the Bills to eight punts and three turnovers on their first 11 drives. Kyler Fackrell had three sacks.
Things went so well for the D that linebacker Clay Matthews was credited for a half-sack after drawing roughing-the-passer penalties in each of the first three weeks.
“We’ve got to make sure we establish the line of scrimmage and that sets up the running game, that sets up the pass game,” McDermott said. “But you’ve got to make sure you’re winning your one-on-one, whatever that is.”
McCoy finished with 24 yards on five carries, and 13 yards on three receptions. He walked out of the locker room after the game with what appeared his left hand heavily wrapped. … Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin had one catch for 34 yards before leaving in the third quarter to be evaluated for a head injury… S Micah Hyde had a disappointing return to Lambeau after leaving in the first quarter with a groin injury. Hyde left the Packers as a free agent after the 2016 season. … Packers WR Geronimo Allison left in the third quarter to be evaluated for a concussion.
Bills: Host Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
Packers: Visit Detroit Lions on Sunday.
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