The world doesn’t always make sense. Geno Smith outplaying Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau Field? That wasn’t going to last for very long and despite a promising start, the New York Jets eventually lost to the Green Bay Pakcers 31-24.
Aaron Rodgers started the game by throwing an turnover and needed almost the entire first half to find a rhythm with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. However, despite going down 21-3, a great finish from the Packers managed to put them only five points behind the Jets as the two teams went into the locker rooms. It was quite clear at that point that this game was heading in one direction and one direction only.
The Jets’ offense only worked well why they were able to contain Rodgers on defense. They jumped to a 21-3 lead by scoring a touchdown on each of their first three drives: Geno Smith rushing for a touchdown, Smith connecting with Decker in the end zone and Chris Ivory, who also started very well before slowly fading away, scoring one himself. However, the Jets mustered just one field goal over their last nine drives, also turning the ball over once during a long second half, with plenty of penalties hurting them as well.
Rodgers finished with 25-of-42 for 346 yards and three touchdown passes, as the Packers realized very quickly that running the ball wasn’t going to work out. Eddie Lacy finished with 43 yards on 13 carries against a very good Jets defense that eventually had to stay too long on the field because Geno Smith is far from being consistent, and Rex Ryan still doesn’t know what to do with having Michael Vick on the bench.
The connection that worked especially well was between Rodgers and Nelson, with the wide receiver being targeted 16 times.Nelson finished with 9 receptions for 209 yards and a touchdown reception, going 80 yards to end the game and give the Packers a 7-point lead with 2:08 left in the third quarter. Nelson averaged 9.7 yards per receptions, more than double (4.3) compared to the rest of the Packers receivers.
Rodgers was 6-of-10 for 173 yards with a touchdown on passes that traveled more than 10 yards downfield: All but one of them were aimed at Nelson. A lot of those throws went to the right side of the field, the same right side it seemed like Rodgers was avoiding in the loss to the Seahawks a week before. Maybe it had to do with Nelson being there and not Jarrett Boykin, who finished with six yards on one reception.
The Jets have a good defense and occasionally look fluid on offense, but not enough. Smith’s decision making varies within the game too much, which makes it hard to have complete confidence in him, even with a big lead. The Packers are the same team they seem to be every year, only with a running threat that hasn’t started the season off too well. For the first five-and-a-half quarters this season, they still seemed to be finding themselves. This kind of win, and this kind of throwing from Rodgers, makes it seem like they’re finally ready to start the season.