Three drives ending in touchdowns from the Aaron Rodgers-led first-team offense and five straight three-and-outs from the starting defense helped the Green Bay Packers beat the Oakland Raiders 31-21 in the slightly more important third preseason contest Friday night at Lambeau Field.
It was over when…
…Alex Gillett made a circus-like catch in the corner of the end zone, which gave the Packers a 31-7 lead with 10:44 left in the fourth quarter. He extended with one hand to make contact Scott Tolzien's throw, before corralling his own rebound and getting two feet in bounds. His catch ensured Oakland's two late scores would mean nothing in the final outcome.
- DuJuan Harris: With 98 total yards from scrimmage and one return of 34 yards, Harris locked up his role as both the offense's No. 3 running back and the team's primary kick returner. He's a unique player. Shifty but still a punishing finisher; short but certainly not small. Harris can get lost behind the line, and then flash into the smallest of spaces. The Packers must feel very good about the talent in their running back room.
- Julius Peppers: Dom Capers continues moving Peppers around the defense, giving him chances to rush the passer from the left and right side, while also providing opportunities for the former 4-3 defensive end to put his hand on the ground. The results are following. He had a sack and two tackles for losses. Every week he looks more comfortable and aggressive.
- Scott Tolzien: Matt Flynn played with the second-team offense but struggled, while Tolzien once again made the most of his snaps. He completed 8-of-11 passes for 107 yards and one score while captaining the No. 3 offense. On Green Bay's final touchdown drive, Tolzien went 5-for-7, with three of the completions going for 15 or more yards (including the score). He's always in attack mode.
The Raiders went 4-for-14 on third down and 1-for-3 on fourth down. The Packers converted 9-of-19 third downs. As a result, Green Bay ran 80 plays, to Oakland's 64…The Packers finished with 11 accepted penalties for 109 yards…Green Bay led time of possession, 34:48 to 25:12…Packers quarterbacks combined to throw for 277 yards and three touchdowns, while taking just two sacks…Harris, Eddie Lacy and James Starks combined for 175 total yards…Roster hopeful Jayrone Elliott had one sack and one batted pass…After going 60 yards on five plays on their first series, the Raiders went five straight drives without getting a first down. Oakland went 12 possessions between scores…The Packers went 4-for-5 scoring touchdowns in the red zone. Oakland made just two trips inside the Green Bay 20-yard line…Davon House broke up three passes and made five tackles...Seven of the game's 42 first downs came via penalty.
-- Another break-neck first drive for the starting offense. Lacy carried five times for 36 yards, including runs of 12 and 17 yards on consecutive plays to get Green Bay inside the 10-yard line. Rodgers completed his one pass—which came on third down—to rookie Richard Rodgers for 32 yards. The seven-play drive took just over three minutes.
-- A lot went wrong on Maurice Jones-Drew's touchdown run on the first series. Morgan Burnett crashed down the line and then missed his tackle attempt as he tried to recover. Micah Hyde over-reacted to the outside and then whiffed when Jones-Drew cut back inside. A.J. Hawk got caught in the mass of bodies and then couldn't arm tackle Jones-Drew down from behind. Datone Jones and Clay Matthews had disruptive penetration; the rest of the crew needs to do a much better job of cleaning up.
-- Rodgers' six total drives netted three touchdowns and three punts. On the scoring drives, the Packers gained 206 yards over 27 plays. The three ending in punts gained minus-2 yards (-3, 0 and 1) over nine plays. What separated the productive trio of series from the unproductive trio was mostly the offensive line, which held up fine on the scoring drives but really struggled on the others. But even with three empty possessions, the Packers still managed to score 22 points with Rodgers under center.
-- MIke McCarthy called this game exactly how all NFL coaches should be managing preseason games. The Packers went for the two-point conversion after all four touchdowns, and he passed up a short field goal on fourth down in the first half. No opportunities were wasted. McCarthy maximized the learning experience.
-- Preseason results mandate that Scott Tolzien be the team's backup quarterback. He outplayed Matt Flynn for the third consecutive week. Maybe the club decides to stay safe and keep three quarterbacks. Or maybe the Packers roll with Tolzien, with Flynn as nothing more than a free-agent insurance policy. Who knows if Flynn would find another job if released. Tolzien might have locked up a roster spot.
-- The post-game injury report was mostly clean, but B.J. Raji's arm injury sounds iffy. McCarthy was cautiously optimistic. Losing Raji for any significant time would be a big loss.
-- The Packers wrap up the preseason next Thursday, when the Kansas City Chiefs come to Lambeau Field for the fourth and final exhibition contest. The first round of cuts come this week. Getting down to 75 players shouldn't involve any surprises.
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