And when Cobb was stopped short on a third-and-14 completion at the Houston 4, the Texans again obliged, with safety Danieal Manning being flagged for punching left tackle Marshall Newhouse while Newhouse was laying on top of him, the Packers had first-and-goal at the 2. Two plays later, Rodgers hit Nelson for a 1-yard TD and it was 28-10.
Although the Texans didn’t quit – a 27-yard Daniels catch-and-run jump-started the ensuing drive, which ended in another Foster 1-yard TD plunge – the Packers applied the knockout punch thereafter. A 46-yard Cobb kickoff return was followed by Rodgers’ fifth touchdown pass of the night: A 48-yarder to a wide-open Crabtree while absorbing a crushing, legal hit from linebacker Brooks Reed. Two plays later, Sam Shields picked off Schaub, setting up Rodgers’ sixth TD strike, an 18-yarder on which Jones made a ridiculous one-handed catch.
From there, it looked like a preseason game. Rodgers took a seat on the bench, backup Graham Harrell took over the job of handing off and the Packers had silenced their critics – at least for this week.
Rodgers, meanwhile, was already looking ahead. While he playfully told the NBC Sunday Night Football crew his message to critics (“Shhhhh”) and also served notice (“We haven’t gone anywhere”), he also made it clear that the victory has to be a building block that leads to another triumph next week at St. Louis – and beyond.
“I think so, I really do,” Rodgers said when asked if the victory would be a turning point. “We talked about this week getting some momentum against a very good football team that was undefeated who’s been probably at the top on most people’s rankings as far as best team in the NFL — that’s what kind of the talk’s been. To win in their place was big for us. Now we’ve got to keep this momentum going.
“This was an important game for us. We’ve had a couple not go our way, games we should have won, and 2-4 would have been very difficult. We’ve got a tough stretch still to play. Another road game next week before we get to come home. A lot of very good teams on our schedule left, five division games. You can’t add up too many losses early in the season.
“I said it this week: There’s not any quit in that locker room. It’s almost better when people are doubting us a little bit, I think, and we kind of band together. People tried to pull us apart this week and we stuck together and found our motivation within.”
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today,” and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.