Packers struggle to put away Jags, get by with 24-20 win
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur liked the way his team finished. He just wondered why the Packers didn’t show similar energy the rest of the day.
Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score, but the Packers needed to make a defensive stand in the final minute to eke out a 24-20 victory over the slumping Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
“We will challenge everybody in this organization that’s a part of this football team to bring more emotion,” LaFleur said. “You can’t take these opportunities for granted.”
Rodgers withstood windy conditions and put the Packers (7-2) ahead for good with 9:03 left by throwing a 6-yard TD pass to Davante Adams, who had left with an ankle injury earlier in the second half. Rodgers also had a 5-yard touchdown run and a 78-yard scoring strike to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who caught four passes for a career-high 149 yards.
“We’re pretty used to being able to go out and throw in the wind and know what passes you can throw and what passes you can’t throw,” Valdes-Scantling said. “You have Aaron Rodgers, he can get pretty much get any football through any wind, so it doesn’t really matter.”
Green Bay’s victory wasn’t secure until the final minutes.
Jacksonville began its last drive on its own 47-yard line with 2:25 left after a 30-yard punt by JK Scott that followed a third-and-1 stop of Aaron Jones. The Jaguars got as far as Green Bay’s 36, but back-to-back sacks by Rashan Gary and Preston Smith pushed them back to their own side of the field before rookie Jake Luton threw incomplete on fourth-and-26 with 1:01 remaining.
“It was rough,” Luton said. “That’s a situation that you want to be in. Your defense gives you a chance to go win a ballgame and we couldn’t execute.”
Green Bay did just about everything right in those final few plays after making so many mistakes the rest of the day.
“I felt like that was the first time our team came alive,” LaFleur said. “You could feel it on the sidelines (with) everybody rooting for one another. We need that from the opening kick. That’s the standard. We can’t just pick and choose when we want to do that.”
Luton, who had thrown for 304 yards in his first career start last week, was 18 of 35 for 169 yards Sunday with one touchdown and one interception. Rodgers was 24 of 34 for 325 yards.
Keelan Cole scored on a franchise-record 91-yard punt return and a 12-yard reception for Jacksonville (1-8), which lost its eighth straight. Jacksonville’s James Robinson rushed for 109 yards on 23 carries.
“Every time you play and lose, for me — I’m not going to talk about anybody else — there’s something that’s in my soul that just gets … ripped out,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “That’s how I feel.”
The Jaguars rallied from a 17-10 halftime deficit by scoring 10 points off turnovers in the second half.
Jacksonville’s first takeaway came early in the third quarter. CJ Henderson knocked the ball loose from Adams, and Myles Jack returned the fumble 16 yards to Green Bay’s 16. That led to Cole’s touchdown catch.
Sidney Jones picked off Rodgers late in the third to set up Chase McLaughlin’s 31-yard field goal, which put the Jaguars ahead 20-17 with 12:44 left in the game.
A holding penalty on Green Bay’s Billy Turner wiped out a 22-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Adams late in the second quarter, forcing the Packers to settle for Mason Crosby’s 39-yard field goal.
Jacksonville had James Robinson’s 18-yard touchdown run wiped out by a holding penalty on A.J. Cann during the fourth-quarter drive that ended with McLaughlin’s field goal. The Jaguars also had a touchdown nullified by a holding penalty on James O’Shaughnessy in the third period, though they reached the end zone a few plays later on Cole’s reception.
Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari said after the game he had agreed to a contract extension. Bakhtiari’s agent, Mark Humenik, confirmed that Bakhtiari agreed to a four-year deal worth up to $105.5 million with a $30 million signing bonus.
Jacksonville didn’t have wide receiver Laviska Shenault (ankle), center Brandon Linder (back) or safety Josh Jones (chest) available. Jones went on injured reserve Saturday. Running back Chris Thompson suffered a back injury in the first half.
Green Bay played without usual starting cornerbacks Jaire Alexander (hand/concussion) and Kevin King (quadriceps). Running back/kick returner Tyler Ervin left with a rib injury in the first half.
Jaguars cornerbacks coach Tim Walton didn’t make the trip to Green Bay because of what the team described as personal reasons unrelated to COVID-19. Safeties coach Joe Danna filled Walton’s usual responsibilities.
The Jaguars host Pittsburgh.
The Packers visit Indianapolis.
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