Aaron Rodgers and the Packers Silence Critics in Statement Win over Texans
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After back-to-back heartbreaking defeats on the road at the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts earlier in the season, the Packers showed they could win on the road, knocking the Texans (5-1) from the ranks of the undefeated with a resounding 42-24 win in a game that was not as close as it sounds.
The Packers faltered in all three phases of their shocking second-half collapse against the Colts but were determined and motivated to make up for it, as they took care of business in an utter domination of a team many pundits believed was the best in the league.
It was 60 minutes of playing Packer football, and it started from the get-go.
After the Green Bay defense forced the Texans to go three-and-out on the game's opening possession, Aaron Rodgers went to work and connected with Jordy Nelson on a 41-yard touchdown pass, giving the Packers a 7-0 lead just minutes into the game.
The explosive plays that became commonplace in 2011 but had been so hard to come by in 2012 suddenly started connecting, and the offense lit up the scoreboard like a pinball machine.
Rodgers, who had played well in the first five games of the season, took his play a whole new level, one that mirrored his MVP season of 2011.
Time and time again, he torched the Texans defense. He found Nelson in the end zone two more times. He also connected with touchdown machine James Jones, who made two acrobatic touchdown catches, giving him a total of six in his last three games.
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Even Tom Crabtree got into the act.
Green Bay had taken a 28-10 lead early in the third quarter, only to see Houston respond with a long scoring drive capped by an Arian Foster touchdown, pulling the Texans within 11 at 28-17 entering the fourth quarter.
Randall Cobb and the special teams played their part with a key 46-yard kickoff return, then Rodgers and Crabtree closed the door on the Texans, as they hooked on a 48-yard touchdown that erased any hope of a Houston comeback.
It was a total team effort.
The Packers offense totaled 427 yards, thanks in large part to the offensive line that kept a talented Texans front at bay, giving Rodgers the time he needed to be special, and indeed he was.
In one of his best games as a Packer, the reigning MVP silenced the critics who had the audacity to question him, completing 24 of 37 passes for 338 yards and a franchise record-tying six touchdown passes.
Defensively, the Packers were up to the task of stuffing the NFL's best rushing attack, holding Houston to just 90 yards on 28 carries (3.2 yards per carry).
The once-maligned defense also sacked Texans quarterback Matt Schaub three times and forced three interceptions, two by rookie cornerback Casey Hayward, who made a name for himself on the national stage.
After hearing all week about how their days as a dominant team were over, the Packers (3-3) played with a chip on their shoulder, silenced their critics and officially put the rest of the NFL on notice.
There is no doubt that a long road to the playoffs remains, starting next week with another road test at St. Louis (3-3), as they still sit 1.5 games out of first place in the NFC North.
But one thing is clear: If Rodgers and the Packers continue this high level of play, another run at the Super Bowl is well within reach.
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