(Green Bay) Aaron Jones had 145 rushing yards and one touchdown, helping the Green Bay Packers defeat the Carolina Panthers 24-16 on Saturday night.
Aaron Rodgers had just 143 aerial yards, but he threw a touchdown pass, his 40e of the season, in addition to crossing the goal line on his own for a major. Rodgers became the first player in NFL history to throw at least 40 touchdown passes in three different career seasons.
The Packers (11-3) have won their last four outings and took a game-and-a-half lead over the New Orleans Saints for No. 1 in the National Association. The Green Bay Troop holds the tiebreaker due to a victory over the Saints on September 27.
Under the new NFL playoff format, the first-place team in each association will get a week off in the first round.
The Packers reached the end zone in their first three offensive heats and gave themselves a 21-3 lead at the half. The Panthers managed to close the gap despite the absence of star backer Christian McCaffrey.
The North Carolina side had the opportunity to force overtime when they had the ball on their 20-line with 55 seconds to go. However, she was not able to get a first try.
The Panthers (4-10) have lost eight of their last nine games.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 21 of his 35 passes for gains of 258 yards. He scored a rushing touchdown, but he also suffered a crucial fumble for the Panthers. The receiver caught six balls for gains of 131 yards.
Rodgers capped the Packers’ first offensive streak with a one-yard touchdown pass to Robert Tonyan, who scored in a fifth straight game. After Joey Slye allowed the Panthers to close the lead to 7-3 with a 36-yard field goal, the Packers extended their lead with a six-yard run from Rodgers.
Trailing 14-3 in the second quarter, the Panthers were at one of the Packers’ line when Bridgewater attempted to jump over the line of scrimmage. Krys Barnes lost the ball to him and Kevin King recovered it before being stopped by Moore 48 yards down.
Jones subsequently landed an eight-yard rushing touchdown without being touched by a rival.
The Panthers scored the first 10 points of the second half, thanks to a 13-yard rush from Bridgewater and a 22-yard field goal from Slye.
Mason Crosby gave the Packers a bit of a breather after a long 51-yard field goal with 3:39 left in the game. Bridgewater and the Panthers didn’t give up, and Moore set the table for a Slye precision punt with a 40-yard catch.