GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP)With Aaron Rodgers approaching his MVP form and Green Bay’s defense correcting its red-zone problems, the Packers have reason to feel confident as they enter the toughest stretch of their schedule.
Rodgers threw touchdown passes to three receivers and the defense stood tall in the red zone to help the Packers beat Washington 24-10 on Sunday for their sixth consecutive victory.
”We’ve still got room to improve,” said Rashan Gary, who had two of the Packers’ four sacks. ”We’re not a finished piece. Like I said, day by day and week by week, we’re chipping away to become that perfect piece.”
The Packers (6-1) haven’t lost since falling 38-3 to the New Orleans Saintson the season’s opening Sunday. They’re about to get a measure of just how good they are as they chase their first Super Bowl appearance since their 2010 championship season. They play at Arizona on Thursday night before heading to Kansas City on Nov. 7.
Washington (2-5) lost its third straight despite outgaining Green Bay 430-304 and never punting all day. Washington had five scoreless trips inside Green Bay’s 30-yard line, including back-to-back series that ended inside the 5.
Before Sunday, Packers opponents had scored touchdowns every time they reached the red zone.
”We’re such a better football team than what our record says,” Washington defensive tackle Jonathan Allen said. ”But at the end of the day, you can only go by what we’ve done. We’re what, 2-5? That’s just who we are. Losing teams find ways to lose games and winning teams find ways to win games.”
Rodgers withstood back trouble and went 27 of 35 for 274 yards with touchdown passes to Davante Adams, Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan.
The reigning MVP said his back felt a little stiff Saturday and ”was killing me” when he woke up. He thanked team rehabilitation coordinator Nate Weir and chiropractor Mike Zoelle for getting him ready to play.
”Maybe you guys know this or don’t know this, but there’s an antiquated procedural thing in our league where the most important night of sleep, we stay at a hotel,” Rodgers said with a smirk. ”And I don’t want to blame it on the hotel – it’s a nice hotel – but my bed at the house that I sleep in every other night of my time here in Green Bay would probably be a little bit of a better option, I think. That’s just my opinion.”
Washington’s Taylor Heinicke was 25 of 36 for 268 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for a game-high 95 yards on 10 carries.
After both teams scored touchdowns on their opening drives, the game remained tied at 7 until Green Bay took the lead for good with 15 seconds left in the first half on Lazard’s 10-yard reception.
Green Bay extended the lead early in the third quarter when a turnover set up Rodgers’ 20-yard touchdown pass to Tonyan. The touchdown came three plays after Gary sacked Heinicke and forced a fumble that Dean Lowry recovered at Washington’s 27.
Washington then wasted numerous chances to get back into the game.
”It was disappointing,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said. ”We had opportunities and we just didn’t convert when we had a chance.”
Heinicke ran for an apparent 3-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Heinicke, who grew up a fan of Brett Favre, even did a Lambeau Leap afterward. But the touchdown was overturned after replays showed his knee hit the ground just before his arm crossed the goal line on his dive into the end zone.
On a fourth-and-goal sneak attempt from half a yard away, Heinicke fumbled and couldn’t cross the goal line after he regained possession.
Washington’s next drive ended when Heinicke couldn’t connect with Ricky Seals-Jones on fourth-and-2 from the 3. Heinicke later got the offense to Green Bay’s 12 before Chandon Sullivan intercepted a pass on third-and-8 in the end zone.
”Everybody knows that we’ve been struggling a little bit in the red zone, so that definitely was a point of emphasis coming in, making sure that we can get that part of our game going,” Packers linebacker De’Vondre Campbell said. ”I think today was definitely a step in the right direction.”
The Packers wore throwback uniforms to honor Green Bay’s 1950-53 teams. The uniforms included plain gold helmets, green jerseys and green pants. The jerseys had yellow numbering and stripes on the sleeves and pants.
Washington: CB William Jackson III (knee), OT Sam Cosmi (ankle) and OG Brandon Scherff (knee) missed Sunday’s game. WR Diyami Brown suffered a knee injury in the first half.
Packers: CB Kevin King (shoulder) and OLB Preston Smith (oblique) didn’t play Sunday. It was the first game Smith has missed in his seven-year career.
Washington: at Denver on Sunday.
Packers: visit Arizona on Thursday.
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