The Green Bay Packers ended their four-game losing streak with a 20-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on a wet and rainy Sunday. This was partially thanks to a strong performance from their defensive backups on what seems to be a promising new secondary for the Packers. CB Carrington Valentine and Safety Anthony Johnson Jr., two 2023 seventh-round picks, stepped in for Rasul Douglas, who was recently traded to the Bills, and Rudy Ford was sidelined due to injury.
The Rams backup QB Brett Rypien struggled against an injury-riddled Green Bay secondary and ended the game with 13-28 for 130 passing yards and one interception. Compounding his struggles on the field, Rypien's week took a turn for the worse when, just two days later on Tuesday, he was released by the LA Rams.
“Not too bad for a seventh-round pick, huh?” said Valentine, who defended three of Rypien's passes.
Johnson, who had played just eight defensive snaps all season before Sunday, registered his first career interception that teammate Jaire Alexander deflected to set up a fourth-quarter field goal.
He said he didn't know he'd be starting until Sunday but visualized that he would get his first career interception.
“I saw the quarterback's eyes and saw where he was going, so I broke that way,” Johnson said. “And as I'm running that way, I see the corner route is coming and I'm going to close, and Ja flies out of the air, tips it up. I'm like, ‘Oh, there it is. It’s mine.'"
Aaron Jones easily plowed through the Rams' defense to score the go-ahead touchdown at the beginning of the second quarter. This marked Green Bay's initial first-half touchdown since their defeat in Atlanta on September 17. Jones' presence had clearly been missed in the first half of the season. His elusive running back skills and contagious energy were sparks that his downtrodden team desperately needed.
“I feel like that will help us get rolling, give us that confidence that we need,” said Jones, who ran for 73 yards on 20 carries to lead Green Bay's 184-yard ground attack. “I always say it only takes one to get things going.”
Rookie tight end Luke Musgrave notched his first career touchdown with a 20-yard catch from Jordan Love while Kicker Anders Carlson succeeded in 2 out of 3 field goal tries for the Packers (3-5). Despite being taken down four times, Love completed 20 of 26 passes amassing 228 yards. Musgrave has undoubtedly established himself as a pillar of reliability, reeling in 27 receptions from 35 targets for a solid 249 yards receiving. His dependability is unquestionable, and I'm convinced that Jordan Love would benefit from directing more passes his way, particularly when they're in scoring position within the red zone.
This performance by the Packers easily surpassed what was necessary to overcome the Rams who sustained their third consecutive defeat. However, the Rams were without their starting quarterback Matthew Stafford who was sidelined by a sprained ligament in his right thumb from last week's loss in Dallas.
“The weather was kind of in and out of the rain, which did minimize some of the different things that you can activate, particularly in the passing game," Rams coach Sean McVay said. “We had a tough time ball handling even in the run game. So, there really weren’t a lot of positives to take away.”
On a positive note for the Rams, rookie OLB Byron Young continued his dominant season with 10 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 FF. Young currently leads all rookies in sacks, pressures, and forced fumbles.
In their previous five games, the Packers were at a 73-9 deficit in the first-half scores. However, Sunday, in a home game at Lambeau, they turned the tables by holding a 7-3 lead at halftime. Green Bay might have had a larger margin had it not been for opportunities they lost to penalties. For the remainder of the game Green Bay's defense held firm, effectively shutting down the Rams (3-6).
The only score for Los Angeles was secured by Lucas Havrisik's 52-yard field goal, which came just before the end of the first half. Following a turnover by Rypien, the Packers found the end zone. Rypien bobbled the snap before attempting to escape to his right, only to be brought down by Safety Jonathan Owens, who knocked the ball loose. LB De’Vondre Campbell jumped on the fumble at the Rams' 41-yard line, setting up the scoring opportunity.
Green Bay lost possession via fumbles in their first two drives of the second half, yet the Rams didn't manage to turn these mistakes into points. Ahkello Witherspoon scooped up a fumble from Green Bay's Dontayvion Wicks at the Rams' 42. LA got to the 36-yard line but chose to punt instead of trying for a lengthy field goal on a fourth-and-17. One of the wildest and craziest fumbles you'll see.
On the following series by the Packers, Jordan Fuller stripped the ball from Aaron Jones. Then, Duke Shelley returned the fumble for 9 yards giving the Rams the ball on the Green Bay 36. However, the Rams' subsequent drive concluded with Lucas Havrisik's 49-yard field goal attempt that missed to the right.
“We don’t do a good job of capitalizing when our defense gets the turnovers, and we weren’t able to really get anything going momentum-wise,” McVay said. “It’s a good, humbling day. Sometimes you have days like that.”
After an unsuccessful 48-yard field goal attempt that closed the first half, Anders Carlson helped increase Green Bay's lead by successfully converting a 26-yard field goal towards the end of the third quarter. He followed this with a 34-yard field goal with 9:08 remaining in the game. Musgrave finished off the scoring, snagging a pass over the middle near the 15-yard line and charging into the end zone with 3:41 left on the clock.
“It’s not perfect — it’s never going to be perfect — but I think just the position we were able to put ourselves in and come out with a win, it definitely is going to help us,” Love said. “We’ve just got to keep stacking going forward.”
Despite some challenges with precision and avoiding turnovers, Jordan Love delivered a solid performance, completing 20 out of 26 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown, without a single interception. Achieving a 77% completion rate marks Love's most impressive outing of the season to date. It's a significant leap from his previous completion rates of 58%, 63%, and 53% in the last three games. This improvement is a promising sign for both Love and the Packers, particularly in light of General Manager Brian Gutekunst's remark that the upcoming 10 weeks will be critically influential for Love's future with the team.
Rams: Bye week
Packers @ Pittsburgh next Sunday at 1:00 PM EST