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Rodgers sharp, Packers beat Rams 30-20

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Rodgers sharp, Packers beat Rams 30-20

ST. LOUIS (AP) Aaron Rodgers never worried about topping himself. A second straight turnover-free performance on the road witnessed by thousands of cheeseheads was perfectly satisfying.

The Green Bay Packers' quarterback threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-20 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. A week earlier, the numbers were a lot gaudier when he tied the franchise record with six touchdown passes and no picks.

``It wasn't really on my mind,'' Rodgers said. ``My mind is usually focused on doing what I can do to put ourselves in a good situation. I'm expected to be consistent week in and week out.

``There's been times where that hasn't been the case, but I'm happy with the way the offense is progressing.''

Rodgers set a couple firsts anyway, reaching 150 touchdown passes with the fewest interceptions in NFL history. Rodgers has thrown 42 interceptions, beating the record set by Dan Marino with 150 TDs and 69 picks.

He hit 81.1 percent of his passes, going 30 for 37 to set a single-game franchise record with a minimum of 35 attempts. The Packers were a season-best 9 for 15 on third down conversions.

``We all know how great he is,'' Packers linebacker Dezman Moses said. ``I'm honored to be on the same team with him.

``He does it day in and day out, so it's not much of a surprise to the rest of the team. It's just what he does.''

Randall Cobb caught two touchdown passes and Jordy Nelson had eight receptions for a season-best 122 yards and a TD for the Packers (4-3), who handed the Rams (3-4) their first home loss. Rodgers was sacked three times in the first half, but got the ball out a lot quicker the rest of the way and was 30 for 37 for 342 yards.

``This was par for the course for them,'' Rams defensive end Chris Long said. ``They threw the ball around the yard.''

The Packers' depleted defense clamped down on Sam Bradford, too, allowing 342 yards, but limiting the damage. Rookie Casey Hayward made his first start in place of injured Sam Shields and intercepted his fourth pass in three games.

They wrapped up a three-game trip feeling like they were already home, thanks to a fan contingent that began to roared during pregame warm-ups. Rodgers noted that St. Louis was one of the closer trips, perhaps an eight-hour drive ``if you're busting the speed limit a little bit.''

``You never get tired of hearing `Go, Pack, Go!,' especially in St. Louis,'' coach Mike McCarthy said. ``I can't say enough about it. When opposing coaches are talking about keeping your fans out of the building, I think that says it all.

``So, thank you fans.''

The Packers, who were 15-1 last season, are above .500 for the first time after alternating losses and wins the first six weeks. A week earlier, they ended the Texans' unbeaten start.

Steven Jackson ran for his first touchdown of the year to trim the deficit to a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Rodgers responded with a 39-yard scoring pass to Cobb that put the Packers up by two scores with 3:06 remaining.

The Rams (3-4) limited opponents to 14.7 points their first three home games, beating the Redskins, Seahawks and Cardinals. They'll surrender home-field advantage next week when they travel to London to play the Patriots. The team flies out Monday night.

Chris Givens had a 56-yard reception for St. Louis on a screen pass in the fourth quarter, his fourth straight game with a 50-yard plus reception. Fellow rookie Greg Zuerlein kicked a 50-yard field goal.

Bradford was 21 for 34 for 255 yards and an interception, and was sacked three times behind a patchwork line with just two starters left from the opener. Bradford threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Austin Pettis with 3 seconds to go.

After dominating in time of possession in the first half, holding the ball for more than 18 minutes, the Rams ran just seven plays in the third quarter and were held to minus-7 yards while the Packers had 129 yards and 11:39 in time of possession.

``We came out cold in the third quarter, just didn't really get anything going,'' Bradford said. ``We've just got to do a better job of overcoming.''

Nelson wrapped up his second straight 100-yard game early in the third quarter, often picking on rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Cobb threw a nice fake on Jenkins in the end zone on a 5-yard catch that put the Packers up 17-6 midway through the third, capping a 12-play, 80-yard drive to open the half that lasted nearly seven minutes.

Zuerlein ended a string of three misses, the last a 66-yarder that had the distance but was wide left at the end of last week's 17-14 loss at Miami, with a 50-yarder that gave the Rams the early lead. Zuerlein is 5 for 7 from 50-plus.

NOTES: Packers DE Clay Matthews picked up his ninth sack in the third quarter when he chased down Bradford on a rollout. ... Hayward's four interceptions are the Packers' most by a rookie since Mike McKenzie had six in 1999. ... OG Shelley Smith made his first career start for the Rams ahead of Quinn Ojinnaka and OT Joe Barksdale made his first start with St. Louis in place of injured Wayne Hunter (back).

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New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.

That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved. 

On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts. 

  1. The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
  2. The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul. 
  3. The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important. 
  4. The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie. 
  5. The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason. 

There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts. 

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.