Rodgers accounts for 3 TDs, Packers beat Jaguars 27-23
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers was far from impressed with his season opener.
He was concerned that Green Bay’s offense wasn’t effective early and had some struggles in the red zone. Nonetheless, the Packers’ harshest critic was a big reason they won a close game on the road in sweltering heat.
Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, leading Green Bay to a 27-23 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the teams’ season opener Sunday.
Rodgers looked every bit like a two-time league MVP. He extended plays with his feet, escaped sacks and was accurate all over the field.
“I don’t think we played very well offensively,” Rodgers said. “But we won. It’s tough to win in this league. It’s tough to win on the road.”
Rodgers completed 20 of 34 passes for 199 yards, with TD passes to Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams. He was sacked once for no yards and didn’t turn it over.
He helped the Packers win their second opener in the last five years. This one came on a hot and humid day that left some players cramping and others completely exhausted.
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Nelson played his first game since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the 2015 preseason. The injury significantly impacted Rodgers, who lost his best deep threat, and the offense, which fell to 23rd in the league and tied for 25th in passing.
Nelson didn’t show big-play ability in the opener. He finished with six receptions for 32 yards, including a 6-yard TD in the second quarter.
The Jaguars mounted a late drive that came up short on a fourth-and-1 play at the Packers 14. The Jaguars had converted their previous three fourth-down plays, but Allen Hurns failed to move the sticks on a bubble screen.
“We kind of knew that was what they were going to do,” said Blake Bortles, who completed 24 of 39 passes for 320 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. “They are a big ‘bring the house’ team, so we just have to execute. I should have done something differently. It was fourth-and-1 or whatever, so we just have to get it. If you don’t, you lose.”
With 13 seconds left in the first half, Adams hauled in a 29-yarder that was vintage Rodgers, who managed to get rid of the ball with a defender tugging at his jersey and still got enough on it to reach the end zone. Adams got up and pointed to the back of his jersey several times.
“You’ve got to make the tough ones,” Adams said. “That’s the caliber of receivers we have here and that’s the standard we hold ourselves to. ... It was a tight window to get the ball in there, but the window was cracked. It was not a wide-open window.”
Jaguars running back Chris Ivory was hospitalized Sunday with a “general medical issue” and was inactive for the opener. Ivory was taken by ambulance from the team hotel to a local hospital early Sunday. He was limited in three practices this week because of a calf injury, but the team said that was not related to his hospital stay.
“Chris Ivory is doing well and is expected to be released from the hospital in the next day or two,” the Jaguars said. “More info will be provided at that time.”
Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson finished with six catches for 72 yards, but there were nine more passes thrown his way. At least two of those, maybe more, could have been flagged for pass interference. The 2015 Pro Bowler took the high road.
“It’s not about the calls,” Robinson said. “Blake gave me a ton of opportunities to make a play. I’ve got to make more plays. Seeing that that’s how the game is being called, I’ve got to adjust my physicality to the game.”
Fellow receiver Marqise Lee placed the blame elsewhere.
“I don’t know what the refs were looking at,” Lee said. “We had some (penalties) we felt should have been called.”