On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers narrowly avoided going winless on the road in 2018. Another late comeback in the fourth quarter from Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense helped get the Packers to overtime, where Davante Adams’ 16-yard touchdown gave Green bay a 44-38 victory over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. That improved the Packers’ record to 6-8-1 on the season and gave them a 1-7 record away from Lambeau Field.
In a quarterback battle between Rodgers and Sam Darnold, the Jets’ rookie thoroughly equaled his idol. Darnold had a stellar day, going 24-35 for 341 yards and three touchdowns, plus a passer rating of 128.4, just the fourth game all season his rating was in the triple-digits.
Meanwhile, Rodgers finished the day 37-55 for 442 yards a pair of touchdowns through the air. Rodgers took four sacks along the way and several additional big hits, though, and those plays in particular continued to call into question the team’s decision to keep playing him in this game at all, particularly late in the game when the Packers got down multiple scores.
In that situation, Rodgers led a pair of touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, finishing off both series with one-yard touchdown runs. The second was a quarterback sneak, where Rodgers reached the ball just over the goal line for the go-ahead score. The Jets seemingly took the lead back on an interception return for a score on the Packers’ two-point attempt, but a holding penalty brought it back and Rodgers converted the attempt — with his legs once again.
However, the Jets sent the game to overtime, as they returned the ensuing kickoff into Packers territory and kicked a field goal to tie the score at 38. The Packers won the coin toss in the extra session, giving Rodgers a chance to win the game with a touchdown. Tough running by Jamaal Williams and a pair of pass interference penalties on the Jets set up what appeared to be a third rushing touchdown for Rodgers, but a hold on Bryan Bulaga erased the winning score. On the very next play, though, Rodgers hit Adams in the end zone to send the Packers home victorious.
Rodgers finished the game with five rushing attempts for 32 yards and two scores, plus a two-point conversion on the ground. Jamaal Williams had 15 carries for 95 yards and a score, while Adams had 11 catches — putting him one short of Sterling Sharpe’s team single-season record — for 71 yards and the game-winner.
Despite the victory, this was another catastrophic game for Green Bay’s special teams. Those units continued to be one of the team’s Achilles heel in this game. They had three catastrophic mistakes: allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown, fumbling on a kickoff return of their own, and finally giving up a first down on a fake punt late in the game to effectively seal the Jets’ victory.
The game started especially poorly for the Packers, particularly on defense. The Packers allowed big chunks of yardage early on, as Sam Darnold carved up the secondary with ease on the first few Jets drives. The first series ended in a missed field goal by Jason Myers, but the second and third drives ended in Jets touchdowns, as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead.
After punts on their first two possessions — including yet another third-down sack — the Packers’ offense woke up a bit in the second quarter. On the team’s third drive, some tough running from Jamaal Williams got the team to midfield before Aaron Rodgers floated a deep pass to Jake Kumerow. The Wisconsin-Whitewater product shook a tackler and found his way across the goal line for the Packers’ first score of the game and his first professional touchdown.
The Jets responded immediately, however, taking their two-touchdown lead back on the very next play. Andre Roberts returned Mason Crosby’s kickoff for a 99-yard touchdown. Believe it or not, that was the first return touchdown the Packers’ special teams had allowed all season, but it gave the Jets a 21-7 lead and renewed the weekly calls for Ron Zook’s firing.
Rodgers and Williams responded, however, leading the Packers on a 65-yard scoring drive that pulled them back within seven. Williams used some surprising balance along the sideline to dive over the goal line for the score, his third of the season. It was a costly drive for the Jets, however, as defensive lineman Leonard Williams was ejected from the game. Williams and Bryan Bulaga were engaged during a passing play and Williams threw a punch at the Packer lineman, earning his disqualification.
After a Jets three-and-out, the Packers added a field goal just before the end of the first half and another on the first drive coming out of the half. Green Bay ran off an eleven-play drive to start the third quarter, but it stalled in the red zone and Mason Crosby pulled the team within one point.
The game turned after that point, as the bad Packers defense took the field once again. The Jets put up back-to-back touchdowns on their next pair of drives, which were sandwiched around a J’Mon Moore fumble on a kickoff return. Mike Pettine’s unit was fooled on screens and play-action, and consistently allowed open receivers to run all over the field. A coverage bust by Tony Brown gave the Jets a wide-open score to tight end Chris Herndon, then the defense allowed Elijah McGuire to slice through them on a 20-yard catch-and-run score.
That sequence seemed to be the dagger for the Packers in this game, but Rodgers’ late heroics brought the team back. After a Packers field goal brought them back within 12 points, his two touchdown runs provided the Packers with a 38-35 lead before the Jets’ long kickoff return set up a tying field goal that sent the game to overtime.
The Packers did have some encouraging signs from a number of young playmakers. Kumerow had his 49-yard touchdown in the first half, while both Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown had nice games on the stat sheet. EQ caught five passes for 94 yards, while MVS added four receptions for 75.