Rodgers throws 6 TDs in Packers' rout of Houston


Rodgers throws 6 TDs in Packers' rout of Houston

HOUSTON (AP) Aaron Rodgers ran into the end zone, spiked the ball and performed the ``championship belt'' gesture that's become his trademark.

A holding call wiped out the play, about the only thing that didn't go Green Bay's way in Houston on Sunday night.

The reigning MVP set a career high and tied a franchise record with six touchdown passes and the Packers played their best game of their so far inconsistent season in a 42-24 rout of the previously unbeaten Texans.

Jordy Nelson caught three touchdown passes and James Jones had two, including a beautiful, diving one-hander in the fourth quarter for the Packers (3-3). Tight end Tom Crabtree had the other, a 48-yarder that Rodgers released just before taking a hit from Texans' outside linebacker Brooks Reed.

``This was an important game for us,'' Rodgers said. ``We had a couple not go our way, games we should have won and 2-4 would have been very difficult.''

Rodgers completed 24 of 37 passes for 338 yards. He tied Matt Flynn's game record for TD passes, set in last year's regular-season finale against Detroit with Rodgers resting on the sideline in advance of the playoffs.

Green Bay's offense came in ranked only 21st this year. Rodgers was openly disappointed in his own play, and the offensive line had also been an issue, allowing 21 sacks.

It somehow clicked against the league's third-ranked defense. The Texans had given up a total of six TD passes in their first five games.

``This is just a team that has a lot of pride in our locker room,'' Rodgers said. ``I said it this week, there's not any quit in that locker room. It's almost better when people are doubting us a little bit, I think. We kind of band together. People tried to pull us apart this week and we stuck together and found our motivation.''

The Packers heard criticism from fans in Green Bay all week after blowing a 21-3 halftime lead to the Indianapolis Colts. Another loss would have dropped them to 2-4 for the first time since 2006, and they missed the playoffs that season.

Instead, they put themselves right back in the thick of their divisional race.

Arian Foster scored two touchdowns, but ran for only 29 yards for the Texans (5-1). The loss leaves the Atlanta Falcons (6-0) as the only unbeaten team in the NFL.

Houston, meanwhile, badly missed star linebacker Brian Cushing, who was placed on injured reserve after tearing a knee ligament in last week's 23-17 win over the New York Jets.

But there was more to the Texans' collapse than just that.

Rookie DeVier Posey lined up offside on a Green Bay punt, resulting in a Packers' first down. Rodgers then lofted a perfect pass to Nelson over the shoulder of cornerback Johnathan Joseph for a 41-yard touchdown, stunning the noisy crowd.

Houston's offensive line also looked shaky. The Packers sacked Matt Schaub on each of Houston's first two series, forcing quick punts. Schaub was only sacked three times in the first five games.

Houston defensive end J.J. Watt sacked Rodgers, and fired up the fans by mimicking Rodgers' ``championship belt'' pose after the play. Watt, who finished with two sacks, came into the game with 7 1/2 sacks, just behind Green Bay's Clay Matthews, who led the league with eight and didn't have one against the Texans.

That didn't faze Rodgers, who eluded a rush from Connor Barwin and completed a 24-yard pass to Randall Cobb, who had seven catches for 102 yards. Jones made a diving, fingertip catch in the end zone just before the end of the first quarter for a 14-0 lead.

Rodgers completed 15 of 21 passes for 187 yards and was only sacked once in the first half.

``He put on a show tonight,'' Texans coach Gary Kubiak said of Rodgers.

Not that they needed it, but the Texans helped Rodgers with untimely penalties.

A holding call wiped out an 11-yard touchdown run by Rodgers. But Barwin stepped on another player's back trying to block Mason Crosby's field-goal attempt, resulting in a first down.

Safety Danieal Manning was called for a personal foul after a whistle on a third-down play, and Rodgers threw another TD pass for a 28-10 lead.

``That's discipline,'' Kubiak said, ``and discipline starts with me.''

NOTES: Packers LB D.J. Smith and RB Brandon Saine left the game with ``significant'' knee injuries, according to the team. ... Rodgers surpassed his previous career high (5), set in the second-to-last game of last season, against Chicago. ... The Packers improved to 19-5 in Sunday night games. ... Texans WR Andre Johnson caught eight passes for 75 yards, going over 10,000 yards receiving in his career. ... The Texans made a field goal for the 16th consecutive game, a franchise record. ... The announced attendance was 71,702, a record for a regular-season game at Reliant Stadium.


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3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings

3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings

Not much separated the Washington Capitals and the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. A late 2-on-0 goal for Brett Connolly proved to be the difference.

Here's why the Caps ultimately walked away with the 1-0 win.

A first period goalie interference call

Andreas Athanasiou thought he had given the Red Wings a first period lead, but Barry Trotz challenged the call for goalie interference. The review showed that Tyler Bertuzzi clipped Philipp Grubauer in the head with an elbow right before the shot went in. Given how long it took the Caps to get going in this game, it is fair to say an early deficit would have been hard to overcome.


Killing off a full two-minute 5-on-3

Two man advantages are hard to kill. Killing off a full two-minutes at 5-on-3, that's a tall task. With the game still scoreless in the second period, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller were both assessed penalties giving Detroit two-full minutes at 5-on-3. The Red Wings managed four shots on goal, but Washington was able to successfully kill off the penalty and keep the game scoreless.

Philipp Grubauer

There were few players who had strong efforts on Tuesday, but Grubauer was phenomenal. Even when the game felt sleepy in the first two periods, Detroit still managed 28 shots on goal, all of which were turned aside by the German netminder. When Washington finally took the lead in the third, the Red Wings woke up and began pushing the offense, but Grubauer was in the zone at that point and could not be beaten. His best save came in the third period when he stared down a breakaway from Athanasiou and extended the pad to deny the shot.


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Tarik's 3 stars: Grubauer, Caps shut down the Red Wings

Tarik's 3 stars: Grubauer, Caps shut down the Red Wings

It wasn’t pretty but the Caps eventually got what they needed in Detroit: two points.  

After a sleepy first 40 minutes, Brett Connolly scored midway through the third period and then Philipp Grubauer made sure it stood up at Little Caesars Arena, where Washington eked out a 1-0 victory Thursday over the scuffling Red Wings.


Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Philipp Grubauer, Capitals

For much of the game, Grubi was left to fend for himself. Good thing for the Caps he was up to the task. The German netminder, who has been one of the NHL’s top goaltenders since Thanksgiving, turned aside 39 shots, including three stops on a pivotal 5-on-3 penalty kill in the second period.

2-Brett Connolly, Capitals

The Caps didn’t get many Grade-A opportunities vs. Jimmy Howard. But Connolly buried one of the few they got…on a 2-on-0, set up by Jakub Vrana in the third period.

Connolly’s goal was his 15th of the season in his 63rd game, equaling the career-high he set a year ago in 66 contests. Vrana, meantime, has three goals and five assists since getting scratched 12 games ago.

3-Lars Eller, Capitals

Eller didn’t record a point, but he was all over the puck in Motown. The veteran center finished with a game-high six shots on net. He also had a key backcheck against Darren Helm, on a shorthanded breakaway, in the first period.

Eller was good in the dot, too, winning eight of 12 faceoffs.

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