Led by Aaron Rodgers and a dominant red-zone defense, the Green Bay Packers prevailed over the visiting Washington Football Team on Sunday 24-10. Rodgers threw three touchdown passes, while Green Bay's defense came up with several big stops against Taylor Heinicke and the Football Team's offense. The Packers have now won six straight to improve to 6-1. The loss dropped Washington to 2-5.
Both teams scored touchdowns on their opening possessions. Rodgers capped off Green Bay's 75-yard drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams, who on Sunday passed Sterling Sharpe for second all-time in franchise career receptions. Heinicke responded by hitting Terry McLaurin for a 40-yard score. After both teams missed field goals, Rodgers' 10-yard touchdown pass to Allen Lazard gave the Packers a 14-7 halftime lead. The score was set up by Eric Stokes' breakup of Heinicke's fourth-down pass attempt to McLaurin.
Green Bay stretched its lead to 21-7 on Rodgers' third-quarter touchdown pass to Robert Tonyan. The score came three plays after Rashan Gary's strip-sack of Heinicke was snared in the air by Dean Lowry. Green Bay's defense then came up with three consecutive red-zone stops. Heinicke was stonewalled just short of the goal line on Green Bay's first stand. Adrian Amos came up with the second stop when he broke up Heinicke's end-zone pass intended for Ricky Seals-Jones on fourth-and-goal. After Mason Crosby's 39-yard field stretched Green Bay's lead to 24-7, Washington drove to the Packers' 12-yard line before Heinicke was picked off in the end zone by Chandon Sullivan. Washington was able to parlay Landon Collins' fumble recovery into Chris Blewitt's first career field goal, but were unable to cut further into the deficit after failing to recover the ensuing onside kick.
Rodgers finished the game with 274 yards on 27 of 35 passing. Adams, Tonyan, and Lazard caught a combined 15 passes for 199 yards and three scores. Heinicke -- who grew up a Packers fan and wears No. 4 because of former Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre -- finished the game with 268 yards on 25 of 36 passing. He was also the game's leading rusher with 95 yards on 10 carries that included a 38-yard run in the second half. McLaurin led all receivers with 122 yards on seven receptions.
Here's a closer look at what transpired Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Why the Packers won
Green Bay received another MVP caliber performance from Rodgers, who now has 16 touchdowns against just three interceptions this season. The Packers' defense, despite missing four starters, came up with several critical stops after McLaurin's game-tying touchdown. After allowing Washington to convert on their first two third-down attempts, the Packers held the Football Team to just 3 of 13 on third and fourth down for the remainder of the game. Green Bay also held Washington to 0 of 4 in the red zone. De'Vondre Campbell led the way with 13 tackles, while Gary and Kingsley Keke combined to record 3.5 of the Packers' four sacks of Heinicke.
Green Bay's offensive line also improved their protection in the second half. The unit did not allow a second-half sack of Rodgers after he was brought down three times in the first half.
Why Washington lost
Had you told Washington fans prior to the game that their team would pile up 430 yards and 25 first downs, they would have felt pretty good about their team's chances. Most of their yards went for naught after Washington had a blocked field goal, three turnovers on downs and a red zone interception. Washington's miscues also included a fumble on their first possession of the second half that led to a Packers touchdown that stretched their lead to 21-7.
Washington's biggest miscues were on consecutive second half possessions. Down 21-7, Washington appeared to make it a seven-point game on a Heinicke touchdown run. By the score was overturned after Heinicke began his slide short of the goal line. Heinicke was stuffed on fourth-and-goal on the ensuing play. On their next possession, Heinicke's third-down pass was dropped by McLaurin in the end zone. Heinicke was unable to hit Ricky Seals-Jones on fourth-and-goal.
The Football Team squandered a solid performance from defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat. Allen had two first-half sacks of Rodgers, while Sweat had a sack and a forced fumble.
After missing their own field goal attempt, Tim Settle blocked Mason Crosby's 34-yard attempt with 5:24 left in the first half. But Washington was unable to parlay the play into points after Stokes broke up Heinicke's fourth-down pass after the Football Team passed on attempting a 44-yard field goal try.
The Packers proceeded to take the lead for good on Rodgers' 10-yard pass to Lazard, who caught five passes for 50 yards on the drive.
Play of the game
Rodgers' first touchdown pass was a thing of beauty. Facing a fourth-and-three from Washington's 17-yard line, Rodgers ran to his right before throwing the ball across the field to Adams, who caught the ball on Washington's 10-yard line before running past three defenders for the game's first score.
McLaurin's touchdown was also impressive, as the man known as "Scary Terry" caught Heinicke's deep pass after Washington's quarterback slipped before delivering the pass.
"Our best defenses over the years have been opportunistic ones. … Lot of big plays by those guys. The pass rush was really better in the second half and we got after [Heinicke]." -- Rodgers on the play of his defense on Sunday.
The Packers head to the desert on Thursday night to take on the Arizona Cardinals. Washington travels to Denver next Sunday to face the 3-4 Broncos.