The Green Bay Packers knew that the Jacksonville Jaguars would be an improved team.
I don’t think they knew just how good they really are. After needing a fourth down stand to secure the win (The Jags were 3 for 3 in fourth down attempts up until that point) the Green Bay Packers stopped Julius Thomas a yard short of the first down and sweated through (more than one way) a 27-23 victory.
As with most season openers you could see both teams kicking off the rust at the very beginning but it didn’t take too long for both teams to find a scoring drive.
The Packers got on the board first by Aaron Rodgers taking matters in his own hands by scampering for a pylon brushing touchdown run to make it 7-0 Packers.
What got them in position for the score a wild tip-drill interception of Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles by LB Joe Thomas which he tried to start a return but then got stripped of the ball. Lucky for him and the Packers, safety Micah Hyde was there to fall on the pigskin to keep the ball for Green Bay. With a short field, Aaron Rodgers sealed the scoring drive with his feet at the 9:36 mark in the first quarter.
Jacksonville got their ball rolling in the first quarter as well.
Bortles utilized a couple of his weapons as he orchestrated a smooth three-play 48-yard drive capped by a running back T.J. Yeldon five-yard run to tie the score at 7-7.
One of the biggest assets for the Jaguars in the first half was their punter, Brad Nortman, who pinned the Packers’ offense near the goal line on a few occasions. Green Bay’s offense couldn’t escape the shadow of its end zone and had to punt twice. The punts allowed the Jags to take control of the field position battle.
With that short field, Jacksonville took advantage. They added on a 26-yard field goal by Jason Myers in the second quarter to put them up 10-7 with 7:48 to go in the second quarter.
Jordy Nelson got his first three catches, and eventually, his first touchdown in more than a year when Rodgers hit him with a bullet of a pass for a 6-yard touchdown score to take the lead back at 14-10.
Jacksonville wasted no time to answer.
After hitting Allen Hurns with a beautiful 30-yard pass, a few plays later Bortles found Julius Thomas in full stride for a 22-yard strike with a minute left in the half.
Like a heavyweight fight, the Packers counter-punched. Starting on their own 25 yard line the Packers didn’t waste any time getting downfield. Helped out by a 30-yard pass interference call, Green Bay got down to the Jags 29 yard line. That is where the Packer’s All Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers showed why he is arguably the best quarterback in the game today.
On a third and 10, Rodgers scrambled in the pocket and when it looked like he might be sacked he flung an amazing pass to a diving and well-covered Davante Adams in the end zone to retake the lead right before the half.
The Packers led 21-17 at halftime.
The 110-plus temperatures on the field didn’t seem to slow either team all day and that continued into the second half of the game. Yet, the Packers and the Jaguars exchanged field goals in the third quarter to push the score to 24-20.
At the beginning of the final quarter it looked like the Packers were going to go in for a commanding touchdown that would have put them up by 11 points. Powerful running by Eddie Lacy got Green Bay to a first and goal at the Jags 6 yard line.
After bending quite a bit, the Jacksonville defense held its ground and limited the Packers to a short Mason Crosby field goal to make it 27-20 with 12:01 left in the game. That 16-play Packers drive took a whopping 9 minutes and 14 seconds off the clock.
Jacksonville WR Allen Robinson finally got into the Jags offense. Robinson brought in a nice 22-yard reception on a second and 18 after a Morgan Burnett sack of Bortles. He caught another three balls, two of which were on fourth down attempts as the Jaguars picked up another field goal.
With 5:12 left the Packers’ offense stalled and they had to punt the ball back to the Jags with three minutes left in the game. Newly-acquired Packers punter Jacob Schum picked a poor time to have his worst punt of the day to give the Jaguars the ball back with a little more than three minutes left to pull off the upset.
With no timeouts left, Bortles went to work and hit Mercedes Lewis for a 10-yard gain. A few plays later the Packers got caught holding, which gave the Jags an automatic first down.
At the Packers 45 yard line Bortles dropped back and hit Allen Robinson with a pass that he caught. However, he was immediately hit by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix which jarred the ball out and into the air. It looked like Packers LB Thomas was going to intercept the ball but it was re-caught by Robinson for a huge 23-yard gain.
Right after the Jags went for the jugular by trying to hit him again in the end zone but CB Quinten Rollins defended it perfectly to knock the ball away.
A few plays later and faced with a fourth and 1 on the 14 yard line and 23 seconds left in the game, Bortles hit Hurns with a pass but Micah Hyde and Thomas stopped the receiver for no gain. The Packers squeezed out a 27-23 win in a well-played game by both squads.