GREEN BAY, Wis. — A season that began with such promise for the Washington Redskins has unraveled in rapid fashion. The Redskins’ record dropped to 0-2 here Sunday and they looked stunningly overmatched in the process, surrendering the game’s first 31 points as the Green Bay Packers coasted to a 38-20 victory at Lambeau Field.
“We knew in order to win here in this venue, we had to play one of our better games,” Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said. “And obviously we didn’t do that today. I thought we almost had to play error-free football, play one of our better games, and we probably did just the opposite in the first half.”
The Redskins reassembled a broken season a year ago, using a seven-game winning streak to turn a 3-6 start into an NFC East title. But they rarely, if ever, had such across-the-board issues last season. Their defense was no match whatsoever Sunday for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who threw for four touchdowns and a team-record-tying 480 yards in a 34-for-42 passing display. The Redskins offense didn’t do its part, either, as quarterback Robert Griffin III threw an interception and did little while it still mattered in a 26-for-40, 320-yard passing day.
Griffin threw second-half touchdown passes to wide receiver Pierre Garcon, rookie tight end Jordan Reed and wideout Santana Moss. By then, the competitive portion of the afternoon had ended. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson caught two of Rodgers’s four touchdown throws, and the Packers evened their record at 1-1 after an opening-weekend defeat at San Francisco. Tailback James Starks ran for 132 yards and a third-quarter touchdown for Green Bay, which had a 400-yard passer and a 100-yard rusher in the same game for the first time in franchise history.
“Aaron spoils you,” Packers Coach Mike McCarthy said. “He makes it look easy. He was on point all day.”
There were a few slivers of hope for the Redskins. Garcon had 143 receiving yards. Tailback Alfred Morris ran for 107 yards. The defense had four sacks, two of them by linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. But all of that was far outweighed by the negatives. The Redskins have been outscored, 50-7, in first halves this season. Safety Brandon Meriweather made his season debut Sunday but left the game after suffering a concussion on a second-quarter collision with Starks. Fill-in place kicker James Potter missed a 50-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter.
“We definitely can get out of it,” Garcon said. “It’s not unfamiliar territory that we’re in. We have players in here that are going to keep competing. We definitely have a lot of good players in here that will compete. . . . If any time we needed a guy to step up and make plays, that’d be now.”
In the first half alone, Rodgers completed 26 of 31 passes for 335 yards, and Packers wide receiver James Jones had nine catches for 152 yards. Rodgers threw first-half touchdown passes to wide receivers Randall Cobb and Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley. The Packers led by 24 points at halftime, and it could have been more. Jones lost a fumble with nine seconds left in the first half as he tried to reach toward the pylon at the corner of the end zone with the ball. The ball hit the pylon and the Redskins, by rule, were awarded possession on a touchback.
“He’s one of the best if not the best in the league,” Kerrigan said of Rodgers. “He showed it today. What really makes him good is the sync, the synergy he has with his receivers. And that was on display today, unfortunately.”
The Redskins hoped to get off to a quicker start than they’d done in last Monday night’s season-opening defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field. It didn’t happen. Although the defense had its first three-sack opening quarter since a 2009 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Redskins faced a 10-0 deficit after a quarter. And by midway through the second, the Packers had increased their advantage to 24-0 even though they’d had two apparent touchdowns called back.
A would-be touchdown pass from Rodgers to Cobb on the Packers’ opening drive was negated when it was ruled that Cobb had stepped out of bounds at the Redskins’ 17-yard line. Kerrigan had sacks on consecutive plays later on that drive, and the Packers had to settle for a 28-yard field goal by place kicker Mason Crosby.
Green Bay punted on its second possession, then scored touchdowns on three straight drives. Rodgers and Cobb teamed for a 35-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-three play. After Meriweather was hurt on the next drive, a Rodgers-to-Nelson touchdown was nullified by a holding penalty on Green Bay left tackle David Bakhtiari. No matter. On third-and-goal from the Redskins’ 14, Nelson got open on a post pattern, and Rodgers put his throw on target for the touchdown. Jones’s 57-yard catch on the next drive led to Rodgers’s three-yard touchdown pass to Finley.
“You’ve got to look at yourself first,” Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield said. “As a whole, you’ve got to do better. We’ve got to do better. . . . He’s one of the best players in the league, period. We knew that coming in. We knew that to beat them at home we were going to have to play our best, and we weren’t even close.”
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