Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and running back James Starks both had career days in the Packers’ 38-20 demolition victory over the Washington Redskins. Rodgers completed 34 of 42 passes for 480 yards and four touchdowns, while Starks rushed for 132 yards on 20 carries, as Rodgers and Starks became the first duo in franchise history to throw for over 400 yards and rush for over 100 yards in a single game.
“I was very pleased with our performance today,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. “We got off to a good start, we set the tempo, and special teams gave us favorable field position. I feel good about the start and what lies ahead.”
Rodgers’ 480 passing yards tied former Packers backup Matt Flynn for most passing yards in a single game in franchise history. “I had no idea,” Rodgers said after the game. “That is what happens when you are in a good rhythm.”
Rodgers said his neck was bothering him before the start of the game and even though he had a record-setting day, Rodgers said his receivers made him look better than he actually played.
“I didn’t feel it was my best game,” Rodgers said. “I’m very happy with the accuracy and the way things went in the passing game, but there are definitely things I need to work on”
Even on his “sub-par” days, McCarthy said he is pleased and lucky to have Rodgers as the Packers starting quarterback.
“Aaron spoils you,” McCarthy said. “He makes it look easy, and he was on point all day. Aaron is a special football player. He is at the point in his career where he is about making other people better. Quarterbacks lift you up, and he did that today.”
Wide receiver James Jones was one of those players who provided quite a boost today. After a reception-less performance against the San Francisco 49ers in the season opener, Jones led all receivers with 11 catches for 178 yards.
Jones though wasn’t the lone Packers receiver to shine on Sunday against Washington. Randall Cobb caught nine passes for 128 yards and one touchdown, Jordy Nelson caught three passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns, and tight end Jermichael Finley caught six passes for 65 yards and one touchdown.
“I thought the communication, all the little things went right,” McCarthy said. “(Rodgers) did a great job distributing the football, and I thought our perimeter did an outstanding job breaking tackles and extending plays.”
In place of concussed rookie running back Eddie Lacy, Starks became the first Packers running back since Brandon Jackson in 2010—ironically against the Redskins—to rush for more than 100 yards in a single game. Lacy left the game after Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather hit Lacy helmet-to-helmet on the Packers first offensive drive of the game.
“It feels good,” Starks said after the performance. “That is why we practice. You never know who will go out and at what time. Every running back in the room is capable of doing what I did.”
McCarthy and Rodgers both said they weren’t very surprised about Starks’ Sunday-best performance. “You can’t forget about James Starks,” McCarthy said. “James has been a good football player for us around here. It has been a challenge for him with Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin coming in, and he has been a great pro. I think he clearly had his best training camp so this is no surprise. He was given an opportunity and he took advantage of it, and I’m happy for him on a personal level.”
“That was something we were excited about, to see a guy go over 100 yards and hopefully this starts a little string,” Rodgers said. “In training camp, (Starks) was on the bubble, but he kept a good attitude. James is a guy who has gotten better every year, and this is the kind of performance we see every week in practice. I’m really happy for him.”
“I’m proud of our guys, and we ran the ball better than we have in a long time. James Starks looked like the James Starks we all know and love. James (Jones) had a great week of practice, our team had better focus. I like the vibe of this team. It is the second game of the year, we are 1-1, but we have a tough game next week at Cincinnati, a bye, then 13 games in a row.”
McCarthy echoed his star quarterback’s words after the game. “The energy is incredible, I can’t say enough about the players,” McCarthy said. “There is a different personality to this football team, this team has a chance to be really good, and they have a lot of football in front of them.”
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