Green Bay, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers dissected another defense on a national stage, building a big enough cushion for the Green Bay Packers to overcome a late rush by Jamaal Charles and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Rodgers threw for 333 yards and five touchdowns, including three to Randall Cobb, and Green Bay beat Kansas City 38-28 on Monday night.
Rodgers led the Packers (3-0) on two successful first-quarter drives that ended with scoring passes to Cobb and rookie Ty Montgomery. He found James Jones for a 27-yard touchdown reception late in the second quarter for a 17-point lead at the break.
Charles rushed for three touchdowns for Kansas City (1-2), which followed its stunning, last-minute loss at home to Denver with a respectable fourth-quarter effort at raucous Lambeau Field.
Charles’ 7-yard TD with 1:25 left got the Chiefs within 10. But the end result was the same for Kansas City, which lost its second straight.
Rodgers was 24 of 35 in another masterful performance for the MVP quarterback.
The Packers controlled the line of scrimmage when it counted and got to Alex Smith for seven sacks.
Smith finished 24 of 40 for 290 yards and a touchdown.
Under pressure near his own end zone, Smith also threw an interception to Sam Shields at the Chiefs 19 with about 7 minutes left in the third quarter. Shields returned it 15 yards, and on the next play, Rodgers found Cobb for a 4-yard touchdown and a 31-7 lead.
Rodgers and Cobb hooked up for another 4-yard scoring pass in the fourth. With the score, Rodgers set the franchise record with his fourth career game of at least five touchdown passes.
Kansas City stopped its long streak of no touchdown receptions by a receiver when Jeremy Maclin hauled in a 5-yard TD pass with 56 seconds left in the third quarter to get the Chiefs within 31-14.
It was the first touchdown pass caught by a receiver since Donnie Avery had a 79-yard catch-and-run against the Indianapolis Colts in a wild card game on Jan. 4, 2014.
A week after fumbling twice, Charles had a little fun with his own Lambeau Leap into the awaiting arms of Chiefs fans following his 4-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Otherwise, the Packers prevented Charles from making explosive plays, limiting him to 49 yards on 11 carries.
For Green Bay, Jones finished with seven catches for 139 yards and a score. He had a 52-yard catch in the fourth quarter off a free-play situation following a defensive penalty that set up Cobb’s third touchdown catch.
Vick to replace Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger gingerly made his way out of the Steelers facility Monday, his left leg immobilized under a brace and his attitude upbeat.
The leader of one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses is expected back at some point in 2015 after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in the third quarter of the 12-6 victory over the Rams in Week 3.
What the rest of the season looks like whenever Roethlisberger returns will rely heavily on how much is left in Michael Vick’s 35-year-old arm (and legs).
Coach Mike Tomlin thinks Vick has plenty left.
Vick will start for the Steelers (2-1) on Thursday night when they host the Ravens (0-3), a job Vick will hold indefinitely while Roethlisberger is out. Tomlin declined to put a timetable on when Roethlisberger will take the field next other than to say it will be “a number of weeks.”
Roethlisberger would be out 4-6 weeks, according to reports.
Roethlisberger fell awkwardly while getting tackled by St. Louis safety Mark Barron, the quarterback’s left leg twisting gruesomely as he fell to the turf. An MRI revealed no major structural damage though Roethlisberger will miss multiple starts due to injury for only the second time in his 12-year career.
Enter Vick, a four-time Pro Bowler signed in August who quickly earned the backup job. He finished 5-for-6 for 38 yards after Roethlisberger’s exit, hardly the gamebreaking stuff of Vick’s prime. Then again, he wasn’t asked to do much other than avoid mistakes while the defense preserved a second-half lead.
The challenge will change considerably at home against a winless rival, though Tomlin is hardly worried about Vick’s ability to get prepared in the 100 hours in between games.
“This isn’t his first rodeo,” Tomlin said.
Maybe, but it will mark just Vick’s fourth start in the last two years.
League defends referee
NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino says referee Ed Hochuli insists he never told Panthers quarterback Cam Newton he “wasn’t old enough” to get a personal foul call during a game against the Saints.
Newton called out Hochuli after Carolina’s 27-22 win after he felt a personal foul should have been called on Saints defensive tackle Tyeler Davison for hitting him out of bounds after he released a pass.
The Panthers acquired defensive end Jared Allen from the Bears for a 2016 sixth-round pick.
The deal was made after Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson re-injured his right hamstring.
... Redskins backup quarterback Colt McCoy missed practice with an undisclosed injury.
... Bills receiver Sammy Watkins’ status is uncertain for Sunday’s game against the Giants because of a calf injury.
... Receiver Victor Cruz is hoping to practice Wednesday and play for the first time in almost a year when the Giants play on the road against the Bills.
... Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes could be back in the lineup this week against the Broncos despite a concussion that knocked him out of the second half against the Chargers.
... Chiefs cornerback Phillip Gaines (knee) was knocked out Monday against the Packers.