September 2, 2014

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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers keeps Browns defense off-balance all day

Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers drops back to pass. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers drops back to pass. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

GREEN BAY, WIS. — Joe Haden slipped and Buster Skrine fell.

Aaron Rodgers and his receivers kept their feet and raced right past the Browns for a 31-13 victory Sunday at Lambeau Field.

“He’s really impressive watching him play,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said of Rodgers, Green Bay’s Pro Bowl quarterback. “He’s in total control and (has) command of the game, able to get the ball to different receivers, find different guys. So accurate in his throws and, again, he’s everything that you’d expect from him.”

The Browns knew just how good Rodgers was before the trip but had to hope he’d be slowed by injuries to receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones. Instead, Rodgers showed no fear throwing to their replacements.

Rodgers went 25-for-36 for 260 yards, three touchdowns and a 117.8 rating despite a conservative game plan and wet and windy conditions. His favorite target was Jarrett Boykin, who caught eight passes for a game-high 103 yards and a touchdown. He entered with one catch this year.

“He’s one of those elite quarterbacks, where you can plug anyone at the receiver position and he’s able to make all his throws,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said.

Rodgers put a huge dent into the Browns’ upset dreams with touchdown drives on his first two possessions. He hit tight end Jermichael Finley for a 10-yard touchdown, then watched rookie running back Eddie Lacy do much of the work on the second drive.

Haden and Skrine, Cleveland’s starting cornerbacks, entered the game having played well through six games. They couldn’t maintain their feet or sustain their level of play against Rodgers and Co.

Haden slipped as Jordy Nelson beat him for an easy 6-yard completion on third-and-2 in the first half. In the fourth quarter, Nelson beat him on a slant for a 1-yard touchdown.

Skrine was worse. He slipped multiple times and gave up many of Boykin’s receptions, including a 20-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

“Some guys were slipping at times,” Chudzinski said. “That’s no excuse because everybody’s playing on the same track.”

The Packers used a lot of no-huddle, hurry-up offense and kept the Browns in their nickel package much of the game. Jackson said the Browns were prepared for the hurry up, but they were on their heels and even got caught with 12 men on the field as linebacker Paul Kruger didn’t reach the sideline in time.

“We weren’t surprised by it,” Jackson said. “We were in the right calls. They execute very well. Early on we were missing a couple tackles. Just have to tighten some things up and learn from it.”

Third down was again the problem for the defense, as it allowed the Packers to convert six of eight in the first half.

“Not good enough,” Chudzinski said.

The defense, which had only one sack, played better in the second and third quarters and the Browns entered the fourth quarter down 17-6. They allowed two touchdowns to end any suspense and 357 yards for the day. The Packers rushed for 104 yards on 29 carries.

“You’ve got to give them a lot of credit,” Jackson said of the Packers. “This was probably our best test of the year so far.”

The offense didn’t help the defense much, as it didn’t score a touchdown until 6:09 left on a 2-yard pass from Brandon Weeden to tight end Jordan Cameron. Jackson refused to blame the other side of the ball.

“We block all that out,” he said. “Look at the scoreboard, we gave up 31 points. No matter what’s going on on the offensive side of ball, we’ve got to take care of us and play much better on defense.”

Jackson also declined to pin the game on the giant gap between Rodgers and Weeden.

“I could come up with 100 different excuses why we didn’t win,” he said. “I don’t pay that any mind.”

Jackson still believes Weeden is the right guy.

“Absolutely, absolutely,” Jackson said. “It was 14-0 before you looked up and realized you were in the ballgame.

“With an offense like that, they’re going to score their points, we’ve got to hold them somewhat and create some turnovers and create better field position for Brandon and those guys.”

Jackson, a captain, wasn’t shaken by the lopsided loss.

“All of our goals are still out there,” he said. “This wasn’t a division game. You’re disappointed that you lost, but we’re still in the hunt in the division. We’ve got a lot of football to play.”

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.