11 takeaways from Packers’ 24-10 win over Washington in Week 7

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The Green Bay Packers improved to 6-1 with a 24-10 win over the Washington Football Team on Sunday at Lambeau Field. Three touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers and four second-half stops in the red zone were more than enough to get the Packers a sixth-straight win and send Washington home with a third straight defeat.

Here are all the important takeaways from Sunday’s win:

Impressive start

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First, let’s appreciate what the Packers have accomplished since starting 0-1. Matt LaFleur’s team has been without three All-Pros (Za’Darius Smith, David Bakhtiari, Jaire Alexander) and a handful of other starters every week during this six-game win streak. It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Packers have continued to find ways to win even when they haven’t been at full strength or playing their best. Now, the Packers are 6-1 and going into a really tough stretch of games with a nice cushion in the division. This team is about to be tested, but the challenges won’t feel foreign after overcoming so much to start the season.

Defense finds stops

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Here’a a wild stat: Washington had 10 possessions and didn’t have a single punt, yet the Packers still held Ron Rivera’s team to just 10 points. This was the definition of bend but don’t break defense. The Packers gave up 430 total yards, and Washington made six trips inside Green Bay’s 30-yard line, but a blocked field goal, three turnovers on downs and an interception in the end zone meant a successful day for Joe Barry’s group on the scoreboard. Of course, the stops in the red zone were huge. Allowing only three points on four second-half trips inside the 20 is worth celebrating. And giving up only 10 points without two starting cornerbacks and two starting edge rushers is impressive no matter the opponent.

QBs running free

Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

A trend for the Packers defense continued Sunday. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke rushed for a career-best 95 yards, including a 38-yard run in the first half. In previous games, quarterbacks such as Jameis Winston, Jared Goff, Joe Burrow and Justin Fields have all created big plays either in the run game or as a scrambler against the Packers. This could be a big deal for Thursday night in Arizona. Kyler Murray will be the best athlete the Packers have faced at quarterback this season. Will Jaylon Smith and Oren Burks do more quarterback spying to help solve some of the defense’s issues against running quarterbacks? Thursday night could be an adventure.

Rashan Gary steps up

Green Bay Packers guard Rashan Gary (52).

The Packers’ pass-rush could have been in trouble without Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, but Rashan Gary made sure Taylor Heinicke felt consistent disruption from the edge. Suddenly the defense’s featured edge rusher, Gary produced two sacks, including a game-changing strip-sack to open the second half, and four quarterback hits. His final pressure count was likely approaching double digits. The 12th overall pick in 2019 has slowly but surely developed under position coach Mike Smith into a difference-making player to start his third season. With Za’Darius likely out for most (or all) of the season, Gary’s ascension as an impact pass-rusher is nothing short of huge for the Packers defense.

Bojo's mojo

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A week after hitting a season-long 82-yard punt, Packers punter Corey Bojorquez enjoyed another standout afternoon kicking the ball. He had only three punts, but all three were terrific. On the first, he hit a 49-yarder directed to the sideline forcing a fair catch. In the third quarter, his 53-yard punt while under intense pressure from his own end zone forced another fair catch and flipped the field. Finally, he hit a perfectly-placed punt downed at the 3-yard line. The ability to hit all three types of punts – directional, power and touch – displayed the talent in his left leg.

Rodgers heats up

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Aaron Rodgers completed 27 of his 35 passes, good for a completion percentage of 77.1, but it was his efficiency pushing the ball down the field that was noteworthy. According to Next Gen Stats, he completed 9-of-11 passes thrown 10 or more yards downfield, including three completions of at least 20 yards. Twice, he found Robert Tonyan for chunk gains, including a 20-yard touchdown and a big completion up the seam to convert a third down. The pass protection wasn’t always there, but Rodgers was effective distributing the football and finding explosive plays.

Sully's slot

(AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Chandon Sullivan’s fourth-quarter interception capped off what has been a terrific two-week stretch of play for the Packers slot cornerback. He’s provided sticky coverage each of the last two games. On Sunday, Taylor Heinicke found nothing more than a couple of short completions against his coverage. This cornerback group without Jaire Alexander and Kevin King could have been in a really bad spot had Sullivan struggled at all during this stretch. Credit Sullivan and veteran Rasul Douglas for helping stabilize an important position while the starters are out.

Offensive line struggles

(AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

The numbers for Aaron Rodgers ended up looking good, but the Packers quarterback was under pressure on a lot of drop backs, and the run game got next to nothing accomplished. Washington’s talented front four dominated at times and was the only thing keeping this game from getting completely out of hand. The Packers offensive line was without starting center Josh Myers, and the interior of the line really struggled, especially in the first half. This team will soon welcome back All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, which should stabilize the entire front and allow Elgton Jenkins to move back to guard and fortify the interior. Rodgers thinks the offense is close; getting the offensive line put back together might be what gets everything rolling.

Secondary targets

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12).

Davante Adams still led the way in the passing game with six catches for 76 yards, but Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were able to spread the ball out and get some secondary targets more involved. Allen Lazard powered one scoring drive almost all by himself, catching five passes for 60 yards and a touchdown on the march before the half. Robert Tonyan caught two passes over 20 yards, including his first touchdown since Week 2 and a key third down conversion in the second half. Veterans Marcedes Lewis and Randall Cobb combined for six catches. When teams focus so much attention on No. 17, others have to make plays. That happened on Sunday.

Step back for Dillon

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Packers running back A.J. Dillon will have better days. He gained only eight yards on four touches and fumbled twice, losing one. His first fumble inside his own 10-yard line nearly gave Washington a golden chance to get back in the game. In the fourth quarter, he had a chance to be the proverbial hammer to the game’s nail but instead gave the ball back to Washington. Coughing up the football is always a good way to see less of it, especially as a backup running back.

Step forward for special teams?

Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

The Packers had a field goal blocked and nearly had a punt blocked in the end zone, but Sunday’s special teams performance overall still felt like…a step forward? The kick coverage on DeAndre Carter was great, Corey Bojorquez was terrific punting the ball and the Packers got a field goal block of their own from rookie T.J. Slaton. At this point, every week ending without a massive special teams advantage playing out for the opponent must be considered a win.

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