Packers’ offensive firepower too much for reeling ’Skins

Defense bends, doesn’t break during Green Bay’s 38-20 rout of Washington
The vicious hit on Eddie Lacy notwithstanding, there was a lot to like in the Green Bay Packers’ 38-20 romp over Washington Sunday in the regular-season home opener at Lambeau Field.
Aaron Rodgers and the offense were smoking hot to the tune of a team record-tying 480 passing yards and four touchdowns. Meantime, the Packers’ defense showed that it can play from ahead.
Certainly, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy’s team has room to grow in terms of tackling, decision-making and communicating. But as home openers go, the Packers’ rout of Washington was as good as it gets.
The Packers (1-1) won their 27th game in the last 29 at Lambeau Field. They did it in smashing style with a power running game punctuating the Packers’ precision passing attack. James Starks rushed for 132 yards to become the first running back to over 100 yards in forever. Starks looked more decisive than in previous games, but the fact remains that hi success was predicated on Rodgers and the passing game.
In that regard, the Packers bordered on flawless.
Rodgers was 34 of 42 and he made it look easy. When the Packers’ quarterback and his receivers are clicking it’s a thing of beauty.
Rodgers tied Matt Flynn’s single-game passing record with 480 yards, and he became only the second quarterback in league history to throw for that many yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. The great Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle was the other, that in 1962.
“You know, he spoils me,” McCarthy said. “No doubt, Aaron is a special football player. He’s at the point of his career where he is about making other people better, pulling everybody up.”
It should be comforting to know that after surrendering three sacks in the first nine minutes, the Packers’ offensive line regrouped and did its job.
For all the criticism McCarthy has received regarding the lack of a running game, I almost understand why he might be tempted to pass, pass and pass some more. Rodgers pierced the Redskins’ defense with perfectly placed spirals in the hands of an array of receivers.
James Jones hauled in nine catches for 152 yards in the first half. Several moved the chains and kept the Packers’ offense on the field. Randall Cobb flashed the quickness that made him everyone’s pick for NFC “Breakout Player of the Year” while tap-dancing through tackles.
Starks’ effort was impressive on several fronts.
First, it showed that he definitely is prepared if called upon. Second, it had me thinking: If that were Lacy, rather than Starks running through those holes, the Packers might’ve rushed for 200-plus yards. The loss of Lacy shouldn’t be downplayed because of Starks’ effectiveness. The Packers need Lacy and Starks both to be available, a point that was highlighted Sunday.
Defensively, coordinator Dom Capers was more innovative and aggressive. He dialed up several blitzes and the defense got home. The defensive line continued to play well, and B.J. Raji is off to a great year.
Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III was shut out in the first half while Green Bay opened a commanding 24-0 lead. Several creative blitzes, including a sweet sack by cornerback Davon House, kept RGIII either throwing away passes because no one was open, or misfiring because he was being hit while releasing.
RGIII finished 26 of 40 for 320 yards and three touchdowns, but the game was out of hand by the time he racked up those numbers.
Green Bay’s defense did a much better job of getting off the field. Several three-and-outs set up the offense with good field position, and scarcely allowed the Redskins’ defense a chance to catch its breath.
Clearly, Rodgers’ use of the no huddle helped set the tone early on. The passing game’s excellence, backed by a strong running game and a defense that can be really good with a lead, is the formula for success.
On Sunday, it worked beautifully against the Redskins.
This week at Cincinnati we begin to find out how well it travels.
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 ( Havel also hosts Event USA’ MVP Parties the evening before home games.