The Packers fell behind 21-3 and were staring at an 0-2 abyss
before Rodgers, wide receiver Jordy Nelson and a resurgent defense
turned the tide in Green Bay's 31-24 victory over the New York Jets
on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
From 2009 through 2013, only one team reached the playoffs after
starting 0-2. However, with Rodgers throwing for three touchdowns
and 346 yards -- including 209 yards on nine receptions by Nelson --
and the defense allowing three points in the final eight possessions
after being shredded for 21 points in the first three, the Packers
posted a huge early-season win.
"Winning is always sweet," Rodgers said. "Regardless of the final
score, it's never easy. Today was a character-building win for us,
and our first win. So the season is still very young, but every win
"I said last week, we're 0-1 and a game back in the division, and it
just so happens now we're 1-1 and we're tied for the division lead.
That's how this thing can change week to week. I think this shows
our team, hopefully the fans. I heard a couple boos out there.
Hopefully, they realize that even though we're down, we're never
The Packers held on thanks in part to a poorly timed timeout by the
With Green Bay ahead 31-24 with about five minutes to play,
quarterback Geno Smith fired a 36-yard touchdown pass to wide
receiver Jeremy Kerley. The score and extra point would have tied
the game, but officials ruled the Jets bench called a timeout before
the snap, and a replay review showed offensive coordinator Marty
Mornhinweg to be the guilty party.
Packers cornerback Tramon Williams said he heard a whistle before
and during the play.
"It's one of those emotional punches to the gut, just because it was
such a great play," Jets wide receiver David Nelson said. "All
drive, even leading up to that, in the receiving group we were
telling each other that somebody had to make a play to get this team
fired up, and Jeremy did that. We're battling as hard as we can and
something finally goes right and it gets you out of the rut you're
in and it doesn't count."
The Packers, who were on the verge of getting blown out late in the
first half, rallied to take a 31-24 lead with 2:08 to play in the
After pulling within 21-16 at halftime, Green Bay took a 24-21 lead
on Rodgers' third-and-goal, 1-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver
Randall Cobb and a two-point completion to Cobb.
New York tied the game -- but only briefly -- on Nick Folk's 52-yard
On the first play after the kickoff, Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson for an
80-yard touchdown. Jordy Nelson beat cornerback Dee Milliner up the
sideline, catching the ball at the 50, then eluded safety Calvin
Pryor by cutting back across the middle.
"Some of that was he's a great player and some of it was we just
gave it to him," Milliner said. "I'm not taking anything away from
him. He's a great receiver and he did great things for them today."
After the Mornhinweg timeout, which should not have been allowed
under NFL rules that list on-field personnel and head coaches as the
only parties permitted to call for the stoppage, New York got a
first down on Smith's 6-yard completion to David Nelson, but the
drive stalled. Smith, facing pressure up the middle, threw
incomplete to Kerley in the end zone against double coverage.
The Packers got the clinching first down on Rodgers' 15-yard
completion to Jordy Nelson on third-and-4.
"They have grit," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I really like
the character and makeup of our players. Everyone likes to talk
about talent and measurables, experience and production. But this
group, they're wired the right way. They work the right way. We
improved as a team today."
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The Packers couldn't have possibly started the game on a worse note.
After the Jets won the opening coin toss and deferred, Rodgers and
rookie center Corey Linsley botched the first snap. Jets defensive
end Sheldon Richardson recovered at the Packers' 16, and New York
scored five plays later on Smith's bootleg from the 1.
That enormous break notwithstanding, New York simply was dominant
for most of the first half. On the ensuing possession, sacks by
defensive end Quinton Coples and linebacker Demario Davis forced a
punt, and the Jets used two big plays to score again to lead 14-0
just 6 1/2 minutes into the game. A 39-yard option flip to Kerley on
third-and-1 set up a perfect deep ball to wide receiver Eric Decker
for a 29-yard touchdown on third-and-3.
Green Bay managed a field goal on the next possession, but the Jets'
offense again proved indefensible while rolling to a 21-3 lead. New
York converted a third-and-1, a third-and-6, a fourth-and-2 and a
third-and-3. Running back Chris Ivory powered in from the 4 to cap a
17-play, 80-yard drive that burned 8:28 off the clock.
The Packers made it a game late in the first half. Mason Crosby's
55-yard field goal pulled the Packers within 21-9, but the Jets
recovered an onside kick and took over near midfield. With the Jets
driving to potentially put the game away, Smith was hit by defensive
end Mike Daniels and intercepted by Williams at the 3-yard line with
1:26 to play in the half.
Rodgers then drove the Packers 97 yards. On third-and-10, wide
receiver Davante Adams' 24-yard catch-and-run to the 6-yard line set
up Rodgers' 6-yard touchdown to Cobb, pulling Green Bay within
NOTES: QB Aaron Rodgers' previous biggest comeback was from 14-point
deficits against the Detroit Lions in 2012 and the Atlanta Falcons
in 2011. ... With 24,732 career passing yards, Rodgers passed Bart
Starr for second place in franchise history. Brett Favre leads with
61,655. ... Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson, a second-team All-Pro last
season, was ejected following Green Bay's two-point conversion in
the third quarter. After the play, he threw at least two punches at
Packers G Josh Sitton. "I lost my cool and let my emotions get the
best of me. I apologized to the team and everybody and I told them
it won't happen again," Wilkerson said. ... Jets WR Eric Decker
injured a hamstring in the third quarter and did not return. ...
Packers WR Jordy Nelson's long touchdown gave him four scores of
80-plus yards in his career, tying former WR Greg Jennings' team
record. ... Mason Crosby's 55-yard field goal was the longest by a
Packers kicker at Lambeau Field. ... It was the first loss for the
Jets when leading by 18-plus points since 2002. ... The Packers were
without RT Bryan Bulaga (knee) and ILB Brad Jones (quad), who were
inactive. Green Bay also lost starting S Micah Hyde (knee) on a
second-quarter punt return.
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