Nelson was sidelined Sunday by a bad hamstring, however, and losing their two top receivers was almost too much for the Packers.
“We had some tough sledding, particularly early with the no-huddle,” McCarthy said. “Our production in the run game needs to improve. We came in here to be a little more balanced run and pass. Statistically we hit that, but the efficiency was not there.”
The Packers managed just 238 yards on offense, and were 5 of 13 on third down. The running game was flat, and receivers weren’t finding the open spaces they had the last two weeks. Even Rodgers struggled, getting sacked hard on back-to-back drives at the end of the first half and losing the ball on the second hit.
Rodgers appeared to find his groove late in the third quarter with a drive in which he was 5-of-6, including a 9-yard pass to James Jones that put the Packers at the Jaguars 14. Green Bay has been the league’s toughest team in the red zone this season, with 18 touchdowns on 25 possessions inside the 20. But the Packers failed to pick up the remaining yard on second and third down, and they were left clinging to a 14-12 lead after Crosby clanged a 32-yard field goal attempt off the right upright.
The defense shut the Jaguars down again — Jacksonville gained only 108 yards in the second half — and, this time, the Packers capitalized.
Rodgers found Jones for a 31-yard gain up the middle, then hit Randall Cobb for a short gain. A tripping penalty against the Jaguars gave the Packers the ball at the 4-yard line and, two plays later, Rodgers and Driver connected for the score.
“He’s going to make the most of his opportunities,” Rodgers said. “We know what we get out of Donald. We know what kind of player he is, what kind of professional. And when he gets opportunities, he’s going to make the most of them.”
The Jaguars marched to the Green Bay 12, only to stall on back-to-back incompletions by Gabbert. Scobee kicked his third field goal of the day, but then booted the kickoff out of bounds, giving the Packers the ball at their own 40 with less than 7 minutes left. But a quick three-and-out gave the Jaguars the ball back with a chance to make things interesting.
After Gabbert’s first two passes to Blackmon from midfield fell incomplete, they finally connected on the third try for a 6-yard gain. They went for it on fourth down, but the only player who got near the ball was Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams.
“We did some good things offensively,” Gabbert said. “But when you get in the red zone three times and only come away with one touchdown, you’re not going to win many games.”
NOTES: Scobee has now made 20 straight field goals, tying Mike Hollis’ franchise record. … The blocked punt was the first by the Packers since Sept. 29, 2003, and first returned for a touchdown since Dec. 2, 1990. … Driver appeared in his 200th regular season game, joining Favre as the only Packers to accomplish the milestone. Driver is the 22nd wide receiver in the NFL to play in 200 games. … Packers DE Jerel Worthy left the game with a concussion. DE Mike Neal injured his ankle. … After just five sacks in their first six games, the Jaguars got to Rodgers twice.