DENVER -- Aaron Rodgers went from pathetic one week to just about perfect the next.
Brett Favre's replacement as Green Bay's quarterback bounced back from a bad game at San Francisco to complete 18 of 22 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown in the Packers' 27-24 win over Denver on Friday night.
Rodgers led four scoring drives in his five possessions and was 16-for-19 for 178 yards against the Broncos' starters, including a 10-yard touchdown to Donald Driver on the game's opening drive.
He added a 1-yard sneak for a score against the Broncos' reserves to open the second half before giving way to rookie Brian Brohm.
"I think Aaron Rodgers has done everything right from a focus standpoint," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "He was put in a situation that's different. He's done a very good job of focusing through that. And at the end of the day you need to focus on playing quarterback and I thought he did that very well tonight."
The Packers (1-2) sorely needed this kind of night from Rodgers in the last true tuneup for the regular season. He was 9-for-18 for 58 yards last week against San Francisco and failed to get the Packers into the end zone in one half of action.
"I saw a difference in Aaron," Driver said. "He was more assertive in the huddle."
Rodgers said he got the ball off quickly this time and didn't hesitate to go to his check-downs.
"I am getting more comfortable," Rodgers said. "It has been a good preseason so far. A lot of growing as a player and I think tonight was a good step for our offense. After last week, and to get the kind of time I got tonight, we really needed to take a step forward and I think we did that."
Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler was pleased to see his counterpart play so well.
"I'm happy for him. He's in a tough spot over there. He needed this outing," Cutler said. "He looked sharp. Their offense looked good. So, I think they're going to be pretty good."
Cutler was effective if not as accurate, leading Denver (1-2) to scores on all three of its first-half possessions. One was a 99-yard touchdown march that chewed up most of the second quarter, and another was an 80-yard drive in all of 16 seconds.
After completing his first dozen passes against Dallas a week ago, Cutler was wild against the Packers, completing just 6 of 13 throws for 115 yards. But he was precise when it mattered most.
Cutler split defensive backs Al Harris and Aaron Rouse with a rope to tight end Nate Jackson that gave Denver a 10-7 lead and capped a 16-play drive that covered 99 yards and 8½ minutes.
Later in the quarter, Brandon Marshall drew a 31-yard pass interference penalty on cornerback Tramon Williams, then beat Williams on the next play for a juggling, 49-yard TD catch.
"I wanted to kiss him, man," teammate Andre Hall said. "He's amazing man. Brandon's the guy."
Marshall, who caught two passes for 71 yards, showed yet again the flashes of brilliance the Broncos will miss during his suspension to start the season for violating the league's personal conduct code.
Marshall said he was supposed to run a 10-yard route, but "we audibled to just a go-route because it was press and there was no safety over the top and there was a young guy in front of me."
He said the Packers actually missed a chance to go after Williams earlier, when cornerback Charles Woodson went to the sideline after getting shaken up.
"When he first came in there, I was like, 'Jay, when you see that 38 in there, you've got to throw it up,"' Marshall recounted. " So we didn't miss it the second time around."
Actually, they did. But they went right back at him on the next play.
"First play was a little underthrown and I told him that if they give us the same look the next play, then let's just go right back at it," Marshall said. "And we did."
The Broncos outgained the Packers 91-31 in rushing yards in the first half.
Mason Crosby, an All-America from the University of Colorado, kicked field goals of 44 and 46 yards for Green Bay, the latter pulling the Packers to 17-13 as the first half expired.
Michael Pittman gave Denver a 24-20 lead with a 10-yard touchdown catch from Patrick Ramsey midway through the fourth quarter.
Linebacker Tracy White picked off a pass from Ramsey deep in Denver territory with five minutes left, giving Green Bay possession at the Broncos' 10-yard line and setting up Kregg Lumpkin's game-winning TD run on fourth-and-1. Ramsey injured his throwing arm on the interception.
The Broncos also lost three defensive ends to injuries: Elvis Dumervil (dislocated finger), Ebenezer Ekuban (back) and Paul Carrington (left calf). Also, safety Marquand Manuel broke his thumb and needs surgery, Shanahan said.
The Packers lost RG Josh Sitton and WR James Jones to knee injuries. ... Shanahan said C Tom Nalen's second surgery on his left knee in 2½ months went well.
|Green Bay (1-2-0) «||7||6||7||7||27|
GB - Pass: A. Rodgers (18-22, 193), Rec: G. Jennings (4-42)|
DEN - Pass: J. Cutler (6-13, 115), Rec: B. Marshall (2-71)
|TD||Donald Driver, 10 Yd pass from Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby kick is good), 11:23. Drive: 8 plays, 80 yards in 3:37.|
|FG||Matt Prater 40 Yd, 5:24. Drive: 12 plays, 58 yards in 5:59.|
|TD||Nate Jackson, 7 Yd pass from Jay Cutler (Matt Prater kick is good), 6:03. Drive: 16 plays, 99 yards in 8:29.|
|FG||Mason Crosby 44 Yd, 1:41. Drive: 9 plays, 54 yards in 4:22.|
|TD||Brandon Marshall, 49 Yd pass from Jay Cutler (Matt Prater kick is good), 1:25. Drive: 1 play, 80 yards in 0:16.|
|FG||Mason Crosby 46 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 7 plays, 52 yards in 1:25.|
|TD||Aaron Rodgers, 1 Yd run (Mason Crosby kick is good), 10:46. Drive: 6 plays, 40 yards in 2:41.|
|TD||Michael Pittman, 9 Yd pass from Patrick Ramsey (Matt Prater kick is good), 8:27. Drive: 10 plays, 46 yards in 5:03.|
|TD||Kregg Lumpkin, 1 Yd run (Mason Crosby kick is good), 3:15. Drive: 4 plays, 10 yards in 2:00.|
|Complete Player Stats|