The NFL preseason kicked off for the Green Bay Packers tonight as the team lost to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville by the score of 20-16. Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy and Jordy Nelson were all given the night off and did not play.
With Rodgers sitting, Matt Flynn got the start under center with the first-team offense. James Starks led the way on the opening series as he rushed six times for 49 yards, and rumbled 20-yards into the end zone to cap an eight-play, 64-yard drive. The drive was his only action for the game.
On the Titans' first offensive drive, Green Bay forced a quick three-and-out to retain the ball. Davante Adams muffed the return, but luckily the Packers recovered. After the No.1 defense stopped the Titans once again, Adams couldn't hang onto his second punt, too. Unlike the first time, Adams couldn't retain possession and the Titans took over from the 13. On the very first play, Shonn Green ran it 13-yards for a touchdown to put the Titans on the board making it 7-6. The Packers had a good opportunity to score during their fifth drive, but a hold from Brandon Bostick after a nice long run from DuJuan Harris, and a pass interference from Jarrett Boykin forced them to punt.
Scott Tolzien entered the game for Flynn with 36 seconds left in the half, but the Wisconsin product still led the team on a solid six-play, 24-yard drive that fell short of a field goal attempt after a sack from Marqueston Huff before the whistle. Nothing changed to the score after Greene's touchdown, as the Packers were up 7-6 heading into the tunnel.
Tolzien and Packers' offense continued the pace they had before the half to start the third quarter. Tolzien hooked up with Chris Harper on a smooth drop in for 17 yards. Then, undrafted free agent rookie Rajion Neal gained 15 yards on the very next play, followed by Tolzien finding Harper again two plays later on a 38-yard pass. Neal eventually made a sharp cut to the outside and rammed his way across the goal line for the touchdown to make the score 13-6. The Packers went for two, but Harper couldn't hang onto an underthrown, but catchable pass from Tolzien in the corner. Neal's touchdown completed a seven-play, 79-yard drive for the offense.
The Titans then responded with an impressive drive of their own that was capped off by a 5-yard touchdown catch from Bishop Sankey. The Titans connected on the extra point to tie the game up at 13 a piece with less than three minutes left in the third. It took long enough, but the first turnovers of the game came in the fourth quarter and both were recovered by Green Bay and courtesy of the Titans. Cornerback Jumal Rolle forced a fumble on a strip sack of quarterback Zach Mettenberger, and then linebacker Korey Jones intercepted him off a deflected pass. Jones' interception led to a Mason Crosby 32-yard field goal to give Green Bay a 16-13 lead with 7:02 in the fourth.
The Titans quickly responded right after with a five-play, 80-yard drive that was finished by a 7-yard touchdown run from Jackie Battle. After the extra point, the Titans finally grabbed their first lead as they made the score 20-16 and that's all she wrote. Green Bay had a chance to score with under a minute to play, but Chase Rettig's pass intended for Kevin Dorsey was late, and the Titans took over on downs after the incompletion to seal the deal.
The Packers return to the practice field on Monday but it is not open to the public. The team's next preseason game is a week from today as they're on the road once against in St. Louis to face the Rams. We'll have more coverage and analysis from the game on APC shortly.