GREEN BAY — The Green Bay Packers improved to 6-1 with a 24-10 win over the Washington Football Team on Sunday at Lambeau Field. Here are my three quick thoughts on the game:
The Packers’ red-zone defense struggles have been well-documented. Through six games, opponents had made 15 trips inside the Green Bay 20 and scored a touchdown every time. No defense had been that inept in the red zone for at least 40 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
It took some help from Washington — specifically quarterback Taylor Heinicke — but that streak ended Sunday. And then the Packers responded by getting one red-zone stop after another.
Washington was trailing 21-7 in the third quarter when Heinicke took off on a scramble on third-and-goal from the Green Bay 3. He slid into the end zone untouched and the play was initially ruled a touchdown, but a replay confirmed the ball was at the 1 when Heinicke’s knee touched the ground. It’s a bad NFL rule — at least in my opinion — but Heinicke gave himself up by sliding.
Washington still had another chance on fourth down but Heinicke fumbled on a quarterback sneak. He recovered and reached the ball over the goal line, but it was ruled that his forward progress was stopped.
In other words, the Packers caught a break on back-to-back plays.
But Green Bay’s next red-zone stop was legitimate with it forcing incompletions on back-to-back plays inside the 5-yard line. And Chandon Sullivan intercepted a Heinicke pass in the end zone on Washington’s next series.
Washington’s next drive ended with a field goal, so the final tally for Green Bay’s red-zone defense was fabulous: four trips, one field goal, no touchdowns.
Spread the wealth
Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard had a quiet first six games of the season. Great blocker, but he hasn’t been asked to do much as a receiver and had 10 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown entering Sunday.
Lazard was asked to do more against Washington, specifically on one drive late in the second quarter, and he responded.
Green Bay went 72 yards in nine plays to take a 14-7 lead. Lazard had five catches for 60 yards on the drive, including three catches that moved the chains and a 10-yard score on a back-shoulder throw from Aaron Rodgers.
I’m going to be writing more about this in a column coming later today, but this Packers passing offense is so reliant on Davante Adams and the star receiver was productive once again Sunday. But it’s a good sign that Rodgers, who finished 27 of 35 for 274 yards and three touchdowns, was able to spread the ball around to players such as Lazard and tight end Robert Tonyan (four catches, 63 yards and a TD).
One big caveat, of course: Washington’s pass defense isn’t good.
The Packers’ field-goal operation unit continues to be shaky.
Green Bay had a chance to take a 10-7 lead with just over 5 minutes left in the second quarter, but Mason Crosby’s 34-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
Crosby missed three field goals two weeks ago at Cincinnati.
The right side of the Packers’ protection unit has been leaky and may have contributed to Crosby missing wide left all three times in that game against the Bengals, but this time it was pressure up the middle with Washington’s Samuel Cosmi beating Jon Runyan.
Crosby’s miss evened things out after Washington kicker Chris Blewitt had a field goal blocked by Packers rookie T.J. Slaton on the previous possession.