Rodgers has concussion as Packer injuries mount
Green Bay was a preseason favorite in the NFC but has been decimated by injuries and finds itself 3-2 after a 16-13 overtime loss Sunday to the Washington Redskins.
Green Bay was without three starters against the Redskins because of injuries suffered in a victory over Detroit the previous weekend: safety Morgan Burnett (knee), middle linebacker Nick Barnett (wrist) and offensive tackle Mark Tauscher (shoulder).
Then the Packers lost their top two tight ends on the second play of the Redskins game. Two plays later, starting end Ryan Pickett left the game with a sprained ankle. In the fourth quarter, Pro Bowl pass rusher Clay Matthews hobbled off with a hamstring injury and cramps.
And finally, on Green Bay's final offensive snap in overtime, quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion while throwing an interception.
"We can't control the injuries," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "What we need to do is get back (to Green Bay) and get our players healthy."
Rodgers hit tight end Pat Lee on a short swing pass on the game's second play, but he was rocked on a hit by Redskins safety LaRon Landry. Lee fumbled the ball and injured his shoulder. Then JerMichael Finley sprained his knee trying unsuccessfully to recover that fumble. Both players were done for the day.
Finley was Green Bay's leading receiver heading into the game, and Lee has been a long-time starter.
Rodgers likes throwing to his tight ends—and suddenly his tight ends were rookie Andrew Quarless and second-year man Tom Crabtree.
Another rookie, first-round draft pick Bryan Bulaga, replaced Tauscher at right tackle, and he was penalized twice for false starts. Safety Charlie Peprah made his first career start in place of Burnett and twice lost track of Redskins receivers down the field.
Santana Moss got behind Peprah for a 52-yard reception in the second quarter that set up a Washington field goal. Then in the fourth quarter, in two-deep coverage, Peprah was late in chasing Anthony Armstrong on a post pattern, resulting in a 48-yard touchdown.
"I left some plays on the field," conceded Peprah.
Despite all the injuries, the Packers managed to take a 13-3 lead into the fourth quarter. But the departure of Matthews was the one injury the Packers could not overcome.
Matthews had two sacks of Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb and three quarterback pressures through three quarters.
But with Matthews absent much of the fourth quarter, McNabb managed to pass for 192 of his 357 yards and rally the Redskins with 10 points to force the overtime.
The Redskins won on Graham Gano's 33-yard field goal 6:54 into overtime.
"It's just one of those seasons, and we've still got to focus in, and we've got to keep clicking. I still think we can be the team that we want to be. It's the ‘Year of the Takeover' still," said Finley, using the nickname he has given this season. "It ain't changed just ‘cause of one loss."
The Packers moved the ball well early, but couldn't convert their yards into points, leaving them with a tenuous 13-3 lead entering the fourth quarter. A 48-yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb to a leaping Anthony Armstrong got Washington within three, and Gano tied the game with a 45-yard field goal with 1:07 remaining.
The Packers had time to drive for a winning score in regulation, but Mason Crosby hit the left upright from 53 yards with 1 second left.
In overtime, Rodgers' downfield pass was picked off by a diving and rolling LaRon Landry at the Packers 39-yard line. Two short passes, a holding call on linebacker Brady Poppinga and a pass interference penalty on Charles Woodson moved the ball to the 22, helping Gano get in easy range.
How much did the tide turn? The Redskins punted on seven of their first eight possessions, while the Packers' last seven possessions ended with four punts, two missed field goals and an interception. Green Bay was also hurt by nine penalties for 63 yards.
Rodgers completed 27 of 46 passes for 293 yards, surpassing 10,000 yards for his career, and a 5-yard pass to Donald Lee in the first quarter accounted for Green Bay's only touchdown. Brandon Jackson ran for a career-high 115 yards on 10 carries, including a 71-yard first-quarter run that set up the touchdown.
The Packers had one first-half drive end when Lee was stripped from behind after making a catch. Another made it to Washington's 1-yard line early in the second quarter, but three attempts couldn't move the ball that final yard. Rodgers' pass to rookie tight end Andrew Quarless was broken up in the end zone on fourth down.
"I think we all know yards don't mean anything," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's about points."