Packers outlast Chargers
That’s what all Packers fans are saying after watching Green Bay hold off a major fourth quarter charge by the San Diego Chargers … holding on to a 45-38 win after leading by 21 points at the start of the fourth quarter.
A four-touchdown, 21-26, 247 yard performance by Aaron Rodgers was nearly overshadowed by the Chargers’ fourth quarter comeback led by Philip Rivers who threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns, while completing 24-46. However, it was Rivers’ three picks, two that were returned for touchdowns, that was the difference.
In a back-and-forth gam, it started well for the Packers defense that had two interception returns by Charlie Peprah and Tramon Williams to lead them to a 28-17 first half lead.
Rodgers was as precise as ever in this game, but it was a late fourth quarter miss of a wide open Greg Jennings on third down that gave the Chargers one last shot to at least tie the game.
However, it was Peprah’s second interception of the game inside of one minute that iced it for the Packers.
The Chargers came out as expected when the Packers deferred the game-opening kick-off. They marched down the field on the legs of Michael Tolbert and the arm of Rivers to take a quick 7-0 lead.
However, everyone knew that when Aaron Rodgers hit the field, he would also create some magic.
Rodgers used his legs to pick up some key first downs and then capped the drive with a lob to TE Jermichael Finley for the score to tie it at 7-7.
On the next possession, the Packers defense put the pressure on in the defensive backfield. After a near-pick by Charles Woodson, Peprah got the first interception of the day and returned it for a touchdown on a memorable run to give the Packers a 14-7 lead.
When the Chargers got the ball back, it was Williams who stepped in front of a Rivers pass and took it untouched to the house to give the Packers a 21-7 lead to close out the first quarter.
San Diego left little doubt they came to play when they moved the ball quickly downfield and scored on the talents again of running back Tolbert.
The Packers offense got the ball back on just their third possession of the first half as the clock was running down inside four minutes in the first half. With the ball near the 50, Rodgers converted a huge third down play with his legs, scrambling for a first down on 3rd and 9.
Following completions to Jennings and James Starks to move the ball down to the 16, Rodgers found Jordy Nelson on a diving catch in the front corner of the end zone to give the Packers a 28-17 halftime lead.
Coming out with the ball first in the second half, the Packers had hoped to move the ball down the field for a touchdown, but could only manage a 47-yard field goal by Mason Crosby, his 22nd straight, to give the Packers a 31-17 lead.
Clearly not going away, the Chargers again moved the ball through the air and culminated the drive with a touchdown to Antonio Gates to move the Chargers back to within just one touchdown, 31-24.
But playing tit-for-tat, Rodgers again led the Packers to a huge score on a six-play drive that ended with a perfect touchdown pass to James Jones in the left end zone to give Green Bay a 38-24 lead. It was Jones’s only catch of the game.
The Packers defense came to life on the Chargers’ next possession, getting a huge sack from Desmond Bishop
and forcing a three-and-out.
After the punt return by Randall Cobb, Rodgers hit Nelson for 65 yards to the four yard line and two plays later hit Jennings for the touchdown, Rodgers’ fourth of the day, to put the Packers up by 21 with about eight minutes left.
But Rivers and the Chargers came right back, scoring in six plays to cut the Packers’ lead to 45-31.
Then the unthinkable occurred – the Chargers recovered the onside kick and it took Rivers and the Chargers just 1:07 to score to make it a single-possession game.
San Diego forced a three-and-out for the Packers and Green bay punted. Rodgers just missed a big pass to a wide open Jennings and the Packers had to kick it away.
Rivers and the Chargers couldn’t do much either, despite a questionable interference call on Woodson, and ended up punting … the ball landed at the Green Bay two yard line with just under three minutes remaining.
Green Bay ran twice with Starks and it appeared Rodgers was sacked on third and two, but a defensive holding call gave the Packers another set of downs. Starks ran three more times, but couldn’t convert on third and two and Green Bay was forced to punt.
San Diego got the ball back with 1:05 seconds left and after a pass to Gates, Woodson was again flagged for interference with about 30 seconds remaining. That’s when Peprah picked off an underthrown Rivers pass and returned it to the four yard line to seal the deal.
Nelson led the Packers with five catches for 105 yards and one touchdown, but Jennings also had six catches for 46 yards and one touchdown.
Vincent Jackson was a Packers killer today by nabbing seven receptions for 141 yards and three touchdowns, while Antonio Gates had eight catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.
Tolbert rumbled for 83 yards on 19 carries and scored a touchdown on the ground for San Diego.
Starks led the Packers on the ground with 66 yards on 13 carries, but Rodgers was right behind him with 52 yards on eight carries.
Green Bay moves to 8-0 and heads home to take on North Division rival Minnesota next Sunday night and follows that game with another at home in week 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, before heading to Detroit for a Thanksgiving Day showdown with the Lions.
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