Houston? No problem in 42-24 rout
Green Bay Packers News – Rumors of the Green Bay Packers’ demise were greatly exaggerated.
Just ask the Houston Texans, who woke up to this headline in today’s Houston Chronicle: “Rodgers-led Packers prove the Texans are far from perfect.”
Indeed, Aaron Rodgers tied a franchise record with six touchdown passes to propel the Packers to a 42-24 victory Sunday night at Houston. The previously unbeaten Texans (5-1) were manhandled by the Packers (3-3) in front of a nationally televised audience.
Rodgers and the Packers dominated from the outset.
Still stinging from last week’s 30-27 loss at Indianapolis, and still smarting from the ensuing criticism, the Packers responded with a vengeance. They were desperate and played like it.
“This was an important game for us,” Rodgers said. “We had a couple not go our way, games we should have won and 2-4 would have been very difficult.”
The Green Bay defense set the tone by sacking Houston’s Matt Schaub once on each of the Texans’ first two drives.
The NFL’s reigning MVP took it from there.
A red-hot Rodgers connected on 24 of 37 passes for 338 yards and six touchdowns to tie Matt Flynn’s record set against Detroit in the Packers’ season finale last year.
The difference: The Texans weren’t a non-playoff team playing out the string. They were unbeaten and looking to show the rest of the NFL that its Super Bowl aspirations are warranted.
Instead, Rodgers and the Packers flipped the script.
Rodgers hooked up with receiver Jordy Nelson for three touchdowns, and he hit James Jones for two more, including a brilliant one-handed grab by Jones in the end zone. Rodgers also found tight end Tom Crabtree all alone for a 48-yard touchdown.
“This is just a team that has a lot of pride in our locker room,” Rodgers said. “I said it this week, ‘There’s not any quit in that locker room.’ It’s almost better when people are doubting us a little bit, I think. We kind of band together. People tried to pull us apart this week and we stuck together and found our motivation.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy had his team amped and ready to roll. McCarthy sprinkled in enough rushing attempts with Alex Green to keep the Texans’ defense honest. Meantime, Rodgers patiently took what the Houston defense was giving. The Packers controlled the ball and the clock, and they kept the Texans off-balance in the process.
Perhaps the game’s most telling statistic is this: The Texans’ Arian Foster, the NFL’s leading rusher, finished with 17 carries for 29 yards, but the paltry 1.7-yards per carry isn’t the most amazing statistic. It’s that Foster’s long run of the night was 5 yards.
When the Packers’ defense wasn’t smothering Foster, it was harassing Schaub into three interceptions.
For the first time this season, the Packers’ offense and defense were working in tandem. Aside from the Packers’ special teams having a punt blocked, this was about as good as it gets.
Rodgers entered the game with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. He left with 16 TD’s and was kept clean by his offensive line. The Packers had surrendered 21 sacks through five games. Still, the Texans’ third-ranked defense couldn’t get to Rodgers.
Houston’s J.J. Watt did manage to sack Rodgers twice. After the first sack, he mocked Rodgers by imitating his “championship belt” move afterward. It proved to be a hollow celebration.
“As a quarterback, it’s interesting to see the kind of dances that go on around you,” Rodgers said, “and it’s not often that you get a chance to dance back to them.”
“He put on a show tonight,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said.
By the time Sam Shields intercepted Schaub with 14 minutes to play, Reliant Stadium resembled a ghost town. Most fans already were shuffling to the exits, leaving Packers’ fans to all the fun.
Clearly, the Packers learned to play four quarters after blowing a 21-3 halftime lead at Indianapolis. Perhaps another lesson will come into play this week against the St. Louis Rams.
The lesson, also learned at Indy, is this: Don’t take anyone for granted. Rest assured no one will be taking the Packers lightly after this.
Last week’s prediction: Packers 31, Texans 28 (Packers 42-24)
This week’s prediction: Packers 35, Rams 10
Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio (www.thefan1075.com). Havel also hosts Event USA’ MVP Parties the evening before home games.