LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay’s offense sputtered, penalties piled up at the most inopportune moments and the Packers lost their third game in a row, 23-21 at the Washington Commanders on Sunday for their longest skid since 2018.
Nursing a sore thumb and out of sync with receivers, Rodgers was 23 of 35 for 194 yards and the Packers went 0 of 6 on third down. Green Bay (3-4) had just 232 total yards of offense to Washington’s 364 and lost Allen Lazard to a shoulder injury, making him the team’s third wide receiver to go down during the first losing streak under coach Matt LaFleur.
Rodgers finished the game face down on the turf after a failed final play that ended with him throwing a lateral out of bounds.
But the problems were not limited to offense: Amari Rodgers continued his struggles returning punts by muffing one that set Washington up in the red zone, and cornerback Eric Stokes was flagged for a costly illegal contact penalty that wiped out a fumble return touchdown and later for unsportsmanlike.
The negatives outweighed the few positives: a 63-yard pick-6 of Taylor Heinicke by De’Vondre Campbell and two touchdown passes from Rodgers to Aaron Jones — the second of which completed a 75-yard drive aided by Washington penalties that pulled the Packers within two with 3:26 left in the fourth quarter.
Playing behind a remade offensive line without All-Pro left tackle David Bahktiari, Rodgers struggled to find a rhythm, missing wide-open receivers at times and others putting the ball in their hands for ill-timed drops.
The Packers had no third-down conversions for the first time since 1999 — 370 games ago and before Rodgers graduated high school.
Washington’s front four also played a role in frazzling Rodgers and making him look more like a rookie than a 38-year-old four-time NFL MVP. Only a series of penalties on the Commanders (3-4) made the game close in the final minutes.
Heinicke, making his first start of the season in place of injured Carson Wentz, threw for two touchdowns and was 20 of 33 for 200 yards after starting 1 of 7 for 14 yards with the interception. One of those TD throws was a perfect pass to Terry McLaurin.
Heinicke also found McLaurin for a 12-yard completion on third-and-9 just before the two-minute warning, sparking “Terry! Terry!” chants from the Commanders fans outnumbered by Packers supporters and helping seal the team’s second consecutive ugly victory. McLaurin beat top Green Bay cornerback Jaire Alexander on that play and his first TD catch since Week 1.