The Green Bay Packers played their starters for most of the first half on Friday night against the Oakland Raiders, and the Aaron Rodgers-led offense scored three touchdowns to pace the Packers to a win by a score of 31-13.
Rodgers finished 9-for-20 for 139 yards and two touchdowns, while Scott Tolzien was 8-for-11 for 107 yards and a second-half score.
The Packers received the ball and opened up with a dominant drive. Eddie Lacy ran the ball repeatedly down the throat of the Raiders' defense and Aaron Rodgers found rookie Richard Rodgers for a big gain over the middle on a seam route on third down. The drive was finished off with a Lacy touchdown run and a perfect Rodgers-to-Jordy Nelson slant route for a two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
The Packers' defense gave a touchdown back on the Raiders' first drive though, as the Packers' poor tackling reared its ugly head. At least three Packers, including Micah Hyde, Morgan Burnett, and A.J. Hawk, missed tackles on Maurice Jones-Drew, as he suddenly found himself with a wide-open field ahead of him and sped into the end zone. The score cut the Packers' lead to 8-7.
The teams traded unsuccessful drives for the rest of the first quarter, with the defensive highlights being a sack by Julius Peppers and a near-interception by Sam Shields.
The Packers got on the board early in the second quarter, though, as they moved down the field thanks to some Raiders penalties and a DuJuan Harris screen pass that went for 31 yards. Rodgers found Jordy Nelson along the sideline on fourth down and three, and Nelson easily walked into the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion fell incomplete, and the Packers led 14-7.
The Packers defense held on the next drive though, and Rodgers got one more drive. Harris ripped off a nice run at the start, the Packers were the beneficiaries of some dumb Raiders penalties. Eventually, Rodgers found Andrew Quarless over the middle for a touchdown and James Starks finished off the drive with a one-yard plunge on a two-point conversion for a 22-7 lead. That was it for the starters after six drives - three of which ended in touchdowns.
Matt Flynn's first drive ended in a three-and-out, but the Packers' second-string defense got a great play by the tandem of Nick Perry and Mike Neal. Perry bull-rushed tackle Donald Penn and forced a fumble out of Matt Schaub, which was picked up by Neal. Unfortunately, Matt Flynn threw an interception to rookie Khalil Mack on the very next play - Mack was hit with a crushing tackle by the 5'8" DuJuan Harris, but the turnover remained. The Raiders couldn't find the end zone though, and the Packers took their 22-7 lead into the half.
The Raiders kept their starting offense out for a bit in the third quarter, and against Demetri Goodson and the Packers' backups, they moved the ball early. Goodson was burned for a big gain, an illegal contact penalty, and finally a would-be touchdown pass to James Jones (that was eventually called incomplete as the ball moved once Jones was out of bounds) on the opening drive. Goodson got a hand in at the last second as Jones went to the ground, forcing just enough of a bobble for the play to be reviewed and overturned. An incomplete pass on fourth down gave Flynn and company the ball back on downs.
After an unremarkable drive, the Packers' second-string defense came up with a splash play. Safety Sean Richardson, he of the great practices but so-so performances in preseason games so far this season, laid the lumber on running back Kory Sheets, forcing a fumble that was recovered by fellow safety Chris Banjo. After a few completions from Flynn to Jake Stoneburner and Myles White, Mason Crosby hit a field goal to extend the lead to 25-7.
Jayrone Elliott showed up in the third quarter, knocking down a pass at the line of scrimmage and sacking Matt McGloin for a loss of 15 yards. However, he did look lost in coverage against Marcel Reece early in the second half, and was bailed out by Reece dropping a wide-open pass in the end zone.
Scott Tolzien led the Packers down the field on a touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter. He completed several passes, mostly to Alex Gillett, Ryan Taylor, and Jake Stoneburner, before lofting a fade to Gillett in the back corner of the end zone. Gillett tipped the ball up to himself, and brought it down in bounds for a highlight-reel grab that made the score 31-7 (after another failed two-point conversion attempt).
In garbage time, Matt McGloin hit Brice Butler for a pair of scores to pull the final score to 31-21.
After the game, old teammates reunited one last time to catch up:
Nose tackle B.J. Raji suffered an arm injury in the first quarter and did not return. There was no word during the game on the severity of his injury.
Guard Andrew Tiller injured his leg and also did not return.
Offense: Scott Tolzien
Scoots put up a great stat line tonight against the Raiders' backups, but it was the command and confidence he carried with him that made an impression tonight. He was accurate on short and intermediate throws, and hit a few nice passes downfield as well. Most noticeable was that he often hit his receivers in stride, something that Matt Flynn struggled with. All in all, Tolzien made a great case tonight that he should win the backup quarterback job.
Defense: Julius Peppers
He played about five or six series on the night, but Peppers was terrorizing the Raiders' backfield, looking like he was eight years younger. Peppers recorded his first sack as a Packer on the night (during a play on which he drew a hold as well) and added a second tackle for loss. His performance against the run was excellent as well, as he looks nothing like the player who struggled in 10 snaps two weeks ago against the Titans.