GENARO C. ARMAS
AP Sports Writer
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The Packers' offense had a record-setting day even with quarterback Aaron Rodgers bothered by a stiff neck.
He left Washington Redskins defenders shaking their heads after throwing for a career-high 480 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-20 win Sunday.
Receiver James Jones had a career-best 178 yards and James Starks ran for 132 yards and a score. According to the Packers, it was the first time in NFL history that any team had a 450-yard passer and 125-yard rusher in the same game.
"I felt like I threw the ball accurately, but that was in part due to the fact that we were protected pretty well and guys were getting open," Rodgers said. "I don't think this was my best game."
Five things we learned from the victorious home opener for the Packers (1-1) that left the Redskins 0-2:
1. SAFETY HIGH: Don't give Rodgers a "one-high" safety look on defense. He'll likely exploit holes in the secondary faster than you can say "Touchdown Randall Cobb." Abiding by the mantra of "taking what the defense gives you," Rodgers often found Jones and Cobb (128 yards, 1 TD) in space or on the run. The receivers took it from there to gain chunks of ground after catches. Jermichael Finley (65 yards, 1 TD) broke tackles. "They gave us some inside leverage routes ... we had a lot of yards after catch. It was 480 yards, but how much of that was YAC?"
2. TOUGHER RG3: Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III finished 26 for 40 for 320 yards and three touchdowns, primarily in the second half when Washington often trailed by three scores. He carried just four times for a yard. But his most eye-opening postgame comments touched on his leadership style. Griffin said that while he believes in positive reinforcement, he's willing to get tougher on his teammates if necessary. "If those guys want me to go out there and be the stern leader, then I'm willing to do that," he said. "I got some of that from my teammates on the sideline asking me to do some more, not necessarily change who I am as a person, but if they want me to be hard on them, I'll be hard on them. I think it's what we need."
3. PACKERS FOUND: A week after getting shut out in the passing game, Jones torched a Redskins defense that played much of the game without safety Brandon Meriweather (concussion). Relegated in the preseason to afterthought status, Starks stepped up after rookie running back Eddie Lacy also left early in the game with a concussion. He became the first Packers player to rush for more than 100 yards since Brandon Jackson hit the century mark in October 2010. Starks also had four catches for 36 yards. It's proof of the Packers' plentiful options on offense, especially when Jordy Nelson is "held" to 66 yards but still catches two touchdown passes. "We have the opportunity, with the guys that we have in this locker room, to do that week in and week out," Cobb said. "As long as we continue to prepare ourselves right and communicate throughout the week and be prepared and execute the plays, I think the stats should continue to look the way they do."
4. SLOW STARTS: The Redskins' offense has yet to score a touchdown before halftime this season. They've been outscored a combined 50-7 by the Eagles and Packers, with the only score during that stretch coming off a 75-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown last week by cornerback DeAngelo Hall in the 33-27 loss to Philadelphia. Coach Mike Shanahan said he likes the potential of his team, though the Redskins can't quite seem to pinpoint exactly why they're getting outplayed early.
"We would make a play and then back ourselves up or shoot ourselves in the foot," receiver Pierre Garcon said. "We just have to continue to stay competitive and make plays. We need to keep battling." Garcon finished with eight catches for 143 yards and a touchdown.
5. THANK THE TRAINER: Rodgers said he woke up Sunday with a stiff neck, so painful that he had a trainer give him an "adjustment" when he arrived at Lambeau Field. Whatever he did worked, and Rodgers said his adrenaline took over once the game started. "Just slept on it wrong, I guess, over at the hotel. Not the hotel's fault," Rodgers said. "But it felt better as the game went on."
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