The Aaron Rodgers-Matt LaFleur honeymoon hit a snag on Sunday.
After eight weeks of mostly flawless football, the Green Bay Packers offense ran into a wall in Los Angeles in a stunning 26-11 loss to the Chargers.
For almost three quarters, the Green Bay offense was shut out until a 54-yard field goal by Mason Crosby.
Blowout from the start
The kick got the Packers on the scoreboard, but accounted for little else as the Chargers dominated both sides of the ball in one of the most surprising scores of the NFL season.
By the time the Packers’ offense finally found its rhythm in a 75-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown drive that almost doubled its production, the game was out of hand.
Pressure puts Packers in a hole
A Chargers pass rush led by Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa set the tone for the game that saw Rodgers under regular pressure and the Packers playing in long down-and-distance situations.
When the Chargers had the ball, they leaned on a two-headed rushing attack of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler to control the clock while Philip Rivers found regular success downfield looking to receiver Mike Williams and tight end Hunter Henry.
No crowd support, no problem
They did so in front of yet another crowd at their makeshift home stadium east of Los Angeles packed with fans cheering for the road team.
This coming through on tv? Eesh pic.twitter.com/HMRVZaQJ8Q
— Marty Caswell (@MartyCaswell) November 3, 2019
Ugly numbers for Packers
The box score was brutal for Green Bay. The Packers totaled 184 yards from scrimmage, 75 of which came on the meaningless late touchdown drive. Meanwhile, the Chargers racked up 442 yards of offense.
Five of the Packers’ 13 total first downs also arrived on that drive as Green Bay finished converting on 2-of-10 third downs.
Rodgers completed 23-of-35 pass attempts for 161 yards and the lone touchdown. Through three quarters, he had managed just 61 passing yards.
Running back Aaron Jones saw his star-turn of a season hit a speed bump on a day that saw him tally 29 yards from scrimmage.
And No. 1 receiver Davante Adams — playing in his first game since turf toe sidelined him in Week 4 — had a day to forget, hauling in seven catches for 41 yards.
Rodgers: Slice of ‘humble pie’
“This is a good slice of humble pie for us," Rodgers told reporters after the game. "We're kind of rolling, 7-1, and starting to listen to the chatter maybe a little too much. I think this will be a good thing for us.”
What does it mean?
Packers fans can only hope the outing was simply a bump in the road and not a sign of larger trouble to kick off the second half of the season. Until Sunday, rookie head coach LaFleur was off to a sterling start, and much of the drama that surrounded recent Packers teams under Mike McCarthy was in the rearview.
How the Packers handle their first real taste of adversity in the new regime will be worth watching.
For the Chargers, who entered the season with eyes on an AFC West title, it was the type of outing they’ve been waiting for on both sides of the ball. Los Angeles improves to 4-5 with the win that puts a jolt into its long-shot playoff hopes.
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