Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (52) reacts to his penalty
after tackling Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith during
the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018,
LANDOVER, Md. — A week removed from what
he called "an embarrassment," Adrian Peterson turned in his first
100-yard game in more than 10 months.
Peterson ran for 120 yards and a pair of 2-yard scores, Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes and the Washington Redskins held on Sunday for a 31-17 victory over a gimpy Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, who again had complaints about a roughing-the-passer penalty on Clay Matthews.
On a rainy afternoon, the Redskins (2-1) went up 14-0 and were ahead 28-10 at halftime, thanks to putting together TD drives of 74, 75, 79 and 98 yards.
Smith connected for TDs of 46 yards to Paul Richardson on the game's fourth play and of 9 to Jamison Crowder in the second quarter, and Peterson's two short trips to the end zone also both came in the first half. After gaining only 20 yards on 11 carries during a 21-9 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2, Peterson ran 19 times Sunday and raised his career total to 102 rushing touchdowns.
That broke a tie at 100 with Marshall Faulk and Shaun Alexander and moved him alone into seventh place in NFL history behind Emmitt Smith's record of 164. Next up at No. 6 is former Redskins star John Riggins, at 104.
"It felt good to get into 'The 100 Club.' I have a little time off now. Maybe I can look and see who I'm approaching," said the 33-year-old Peterson, referring to Washington's Week 4 bye. "Riggins, he's a guy that I do remember seeing up there on the list and thinking, 'God willing, I'll be able to pass him eventually.'"
This was Peterson's 52nd game with at least 100 yards on the ground, and first since Nov. 5, 2017, for Arizona against San Francisco.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12), wearing a knee brace,
scrambles with the ball
Peterson left the game late after getting
kicked in the ankle, but coach Jay Gruden dismissed that as nothing to
worry about. Before that, Peterson had a 41-yard run, part of a group of
big plays allowed by the Packers that included Smith's TD toss to
Richardson, a 50-yard completion to Vernon Davis and a 34-yard
completion to Jordan Reed.
"We just came out and laid an egg in the first half. ... Missed tackles. Missed assignments," said Matthews, who was whistled for the way he sacked Smith late in the third quarter, then complained about the way NFL games are officiated nowadays.
Smith went 12 for 20 for 220 yards. He also had his streak of 156 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest active run in the league, end in the second quarter. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix made the pick when Reed went one way and Smith threw another.
Playing with a bulky brace on his left knee, which he hurt in Week 1, Rodgers hobbled and limped around, and couldn't do enough to get the Packers (1-1-1) back into the game.
He finished 27 for 44 for 265 yards with two TDs — of 64 yards to Geronimo Allison and 2 yards to Davante Adams — and was sacked four times.
"I got a little banged up, but finished the game and I expect to start next week," Rodgers said. "It can be painful at times moving around, especially lateral movement. But I'm going to be out there if I'm up to it and try and get this thing back turned the right direction with a win next week."
Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith (11) passes the ball during the first half.
Green Bay's receivers had problems with
drops, plus Randall Cobb was stripped of the ball by Fabian Moreau —
Josh Norman recovered the fumble — after a completion with about 5½
minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
"I didn't give us an opportunity to win. Third-down drop on the first drive. Fourth-down drop. Fumble," Cobb said. "I played terrible."
Right after that, Peterson helped seal the outcome, with three runs in a row for a total of 26 yards — a greater output than he managed in the entire game against the Colts.
"In the fourth quarter there, when we needed it the most," Gruden said, "Adrian was able to make a big impact."
Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson (26) carries the ball past Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander (23) during the first half.
Packers: DL Muhammad Wilkerson was carted off in the second quarter with an ankle injury. ... RT Bryan Bulaga (back) and RG Justin McCray (shoulder) went out. ... LB Nick Perry was evaluated for a concussion.
Redskins: RT Morgan Moses exited in the first quarter with a concussion. He was replaced by Ty Nsekhe. ... Gruden said Norman had "a little bit of a hamstring issue."
GO, PACK, GO!
There were several times when loud cheers of "Go, Pack, go!" rang out in the Redskins' stadium, a week after there were boos and Washington's home sellout streak ended. "It's crazy. They brought their fans to the hotel we're staying in," Norman said. "Then you saw them in the stands."
Packers: Host the Buffalo Bills.
Redskins: Bye week, play Oct. 8 at New Orleans.
Clay Matthews on latest roughing call: NFL is
LANDOVER, Md. — Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews does not understand why he was flagged — yet again — for roughing the passer, this time while sacking Washington's Alex Smith on Sunday. Matthews think it's an indication that the NFL is "getting soft."
Even Smith wasn't quite sure about the call that came late in the third quarter of Washington's 31-17 victory. Nor did other players and coaches from both teams. Matthews broke free into the backfield, grabbed Smith with both arms and took down the QB in a seemingly straightforward manner.
"When you're tackling a guy from the front, you're going to land on him. I understand the spirit of the rule. When you have a hit like that, that's a football play. I even went up to Alex Smith after the game and asked him: What do you think? What can I do differently?" Matthews said.
"That's a football play. I hit him from the front, got my head across, wrapped up. I've never heard of anybody tackling somebody without any hands. When he gives himself up as soon as you hit him, your body weight is going to go on him."
Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (52) hits Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith (11) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018 in Landover, Md.
There are sure to be more questions and more debate
around the NFL about what constitutes a penalty on such plays.
Matthews immediately put his arms up and slapped himself in the helmet as the flag was thrown. Packers coach Mike McCarthy threw down a play-calling sheet and argued with two officials about the call, even chasing one along the sideline.
"I think Clay did exactly what he's supposed to do there," McCarthy said. "He hit him with his shoulder. He was coming full speed off of a block. He braced himself. So I was fine with what Clay did."
In Green Bay's 29-29 tie against the Minnesota Vikings last week, a potentially win-sealing interception for the Packers was wiped out by a roughing call on Matthews when he hit Kirk Cousins.
"Unfortunately, this league is going in a direction that a lot of people don't like. I think they're getting soft. The only thing hard about this league is the fines they levy down on guys like me that play the game hard," said Matthews, who actually was not docked pay for that hit on Cousins. "Maybe now pass rushers, guys getting after the quarterback, you'll just have to attack the ball."
Smith's take on the hit he took from Matthews?
"I'm glad I don't play defense. ... They can't hit us in the head and can't hit us in the knees when we're in the pocket. It's tough. I felt like he was playing football. He's played a long time. Hit me right in the strike zone," Smith said. "That's the new rule they put in, though, with these guys finishing quarterbacks to the ground."
The rule preventing defenders from landing on the QB has been around since 1995, but the league's competition committee made it a point of emphasis this year. More than 30 roughing-the-passer penalties were called in this season's first two weeks.
"Every week," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, "there seems to be another one that's a little bit questionable."
With a heavy sigh, Matthews said: "Nine years, I've been doing it one way in the NFL, successfully, and now it just seems as if that way doesn't work anymore. And that's frustrating."
Not surprisingly, Packers teammates agreed with Matthews. Perhaps more surprisingly, so did several members of the Redskins.
"Oh, my gosh. Look, I'm glad it was for us, but then when I looked at it, I was like: What else do you want the man to do? Seriously, what else do you want the man to do?" Redskins cornerback Josh Norman said. "When I saw it, it was not malicious, ill intent. It was just a nice form tackle. ... I'm lost by it. I'm pretty sure (Matthews) is frustrated and he has a point."