The reigning MVP set a career high and tied a franchise record with six touchdown passes and the Packers played their best game of their so far inconsistent season, beating previously unbeaten Houston 42-24 on Sunday night.
Jordy Nelson caught three touchdown passes and James Jones had two, including a beautiful, diving one-hander in the fourth quarter for the Packers (3-3). Tight end Tom Crabtree had the other, a 48-yarder that Rodgers released just before taking a hit from Texans’ outside linebacker Brooks Reed.
Rodgers completed 24 of 37 passes for 338 yards. He tied Matt Flynn’s game record for TD passes, set in last year’s regular-season finale against Detroit with Rodgers resting on the sideline in advance of the playoffs.
The Packers heard criticism from fans in Green Bay all week after blowing a 21-3 halftime lead to the Indianapolis Colts last week. Another loss would have dropped them to 2-4 for the first time since 2006, and they missed the playoffs that season.
Instead, they put themselves right back in the thick of their divisional race.
“This was an important game for us,” Rodgers said. “We had a couple not go our way, games we should have won and 2-4 would have been very difficult.”
Arian Foster scored two touchdowns, but ran for only 29 yards for the Texans (5-1). The loss leaves the Atlanta Falcons (6-0) as the only unbeaten team in the NFL.
Rodgers came into the game with a 68.8 completion percentage, 10 touchdown passes and a 96.9 rating — not bad, but not quite his astonishing standard from last season. Green Bay’s offense came in ranked only 21st this year. Rodgers was openly disappointed in his own play, and the offensive line had also been an issue, allowing 21 sacks.
It somehow all came together against the league’s third-ranked defense.
“This is just a team that has a lot of pride in our locker room,” Rodgers said. “I said it this week, there’s not any quit in that locker room. It’s almost better when people are doubting us a little bit, I think. We kind of band together. People tried to pull us apart this week and we stuck together and found our motivation.”
Houston, meanwhile, badly missed star linebacker Brian Cushing, who was placed on injured reserve after tearing a knee ligament in last week’s 23-17 win over the New York Jets.
But there was more to the Texans’ collapse than just that.
Rookie DeVier Posey lined up offside on a Green Bay punt, resulting in a Packers‘ first down. Rodgers then lofted a perfect pass to Nelson over the shoulder of cornerback Johnathan Joseph for a 41-yard touchdown, stunning the noisy crowd.
Houston’s offensive line also looked shaky. The Packers sacked Matt Schaub on each of Houston’s first two series, forcing quick punts. Schaub was only sacked three times in the first five games.