Packers lead Texans 28-17 after 3
HOUSTON (AP) — Aaron Rodgers threw for four touchdowns, three to Jordy Nelson, and the Green Bay Packers led the Houston Texans 28-17 after three quarters on Sunday night.
Rodgers connected with Nelson for a third touchdown on a 1-yard throw in the third quarter to push the lead to 28-10. The Texans had two costly penalties on that drive that kept the Packers on the field. The first one came when Connor Barwin was penalized for leaping over the line on a field goal attempt.
An unnecessary roughness penalty on Danieal Manning on third down later in the drive gave Green Bay a first down at the Houston 2 and Nelson scored two plays later.
Houston capped a 65-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown by Arian Foster — his second score of the game — to cut the lead 28-17 with less than a minute left in the third quarter.
Nelson's first score came when he got past Johnathan Joseph for a 41-yard touchdown reception to put the Packers on top 7-0 early in the first quarter. Green Bay had a fourth-and-3 on the play before the touchdown, but rookie DeVier Posey was offside, giving the Packers a first down to keep the drive going.
The second score came when Rodgers hit James Jones near the corner of the end zone on a 6-yard score with less than a minute left in the first quarter. Rodgers got that drive going when he was almost sacked by Barwin, but wriggled free and found Randall Cobb on a 24-yard reception.
Houston finally got its offense rolling after a tough first quarter, and cut the lead to 14-7 when Foster scored on a 3-yard run early in the second quarter. That drive was helped by a 26-yard pass interference penalty on Sam Shields, who was covering Kevin Walter. The penalty gave the Texans a first down at the Green Bay 4.
The Packers got help from a pass interference call on their next drive when Kareem Jackson was flagged for 28 yards on a throw to Jones. Rodgers threw a perfect strike to Nelson on the next play for a 21-yard touchdown to extend Green Bay's lead to 21-7 midway through the second quarter.
Shayne Graham got Houston within 21-10 with a 51-yard field goal just before the 2-minute warning.
Rodgers ended the third quarter with 272 yards passing and Nelson had 121 yards receiving.
Houston is off to the best start in franchise history, coming into the game 5-0, joining Atlanta as the NFL's only unbeaten teams. But things didn't look good for the Texans early.
Matt Schaub, who had been sacked just three times this season entering Sunday's game, was taken down on both of Houston's first two drives as the offense sputtered and had to punt on its first three possessions.
Schaub had 194 yards passing through three quarters.
Houston defensive end J.J. Watt sacked Rodgers on Green Bay's second drive, and fired up the fans by mimicking Rodgers' "championship belt" pose after the play. Watt came into the game with 7 1-2 sacks, just behind Green Bay's Clay Matthews, who led the league with eight through the first five games.
Texans defensive end Tim Jamison, Watt's backup, hurt his right Achilles tendon on the Packers' second scoring drive and the team said he wouldn't return. Jamison had a sack and a tipped pass in the first five games. Right guard Antoine Caldwell sustained a concussion and the team said he was out for the rest of the game.
It is the first meeting between these teams since 2008 and Green Bay's first trip to Houston since 2004, which was also a Sunday night game that the Packers won 16-13.
Green Bay's offense came in ranked 21st (338 yards per game), and has been slowed by injuries to some of its top playmakers.
Receiver Greg Jennings missed his second straight game with a groin problem, and has said he won't play until he is 100 percent healthy so it doesn't slow him down the rest of the season. Running back Cedric Benson, who has had 71 of the team's 111 carries, is out at least eight weeks with a sprained left foot. Tight end Jermichael Finley is nursing a bum right shoulder, but played on Sunday. Tight end D.J. Williams tweaked his hamstring and didn't play Sunday.
But Nelson and Cobb carried the load, with Cobb adding 102 yards receiving through three quarters.
Houston receiver Andre Johnson entered the game needing 61 yards receiving to reach 10,000 in his career. He has had four quiet games since catching eight passes in the season-opening win over Miami. He had six receptions for 58 yards through three quarters.