Packers settle for field goals, beat Rams 19-7

ST. LOUIS — There’s one preseason game left for Aaron Rodgers, who figures he’ll play at least a half against Seattle. Guess what he’s dying to do?

“I’d like to score a touchdown, that’s kind of the first priority,” Rodgers said after the Green Bay Packers settled for field goals off three productive drives in a 19-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Saturday night.

“But we’ve had four good drives, four out of four. We’ve just got to get more points, we’ve got to put the ball in the end zone.”

Rodgers got the Packers (1-1) on the scoreboard for the first time in the preseason. Not that coach Mike McCarthy had been worried about an offense that averaged 27 points last season, or the final score for that matter.

McCarthy said his first priority was quality opportunities for players, the second was effective play in all three phases, “and the third priority is winning the game.”

“If you don’t like that, I get that,” McCarthy said. “Trust me, I want to win every play, every game, but we’re a young team.”

Sam Bradford had only himself to blame for putting up nice numbers, going 8 for 12 for 156 yards, with nothing to show for four possessions. His highlight throw was a 57-yarder that hit Chris Givens in stride to the Packers 4, but Bradford fumbled away the snap on fourth-and-goal from the 1 late in the first quarter with the Rams (0-2) trailing 3-0.

“That’s on me. I just missed it,” Bradford said. “I’ve got to make sure I have the ball before I get out of there. It’s unacceptable.

“You can’t have that happen. That’s what cost us this game.”

Both Packers starting wide receivers are out with injuries, so Rodgers leaned on tight end Jermichael Finley while going 10 for 12 for 134 yards. All three drives stalled and the Packers had a pair of field goals by Mason Crosby when Rodgers turned the offense over to backup Graham Harrell in the second quarter.

The Packers got shut out 17-0 by Arizona in the preseason opener with Rodgers playing just one series. The Rams averted a shutout on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Austin Davis to Nick Johnson in the final minute.

The Rams got offensive skill upgrades, tight end Jared Cook and wide receiver Tavon Austin, involved for the first time. Cook had a 37-yard reception, almost all the yards coming after grabbing a low pass from Bradford, and Austin caught four passes but for just 28 yards.

“When you’re part of an offense that’s supposed to put up points, those are the things you have to look at,” Cook said. “That’s our job and that’s what we’re supposed to be here for.

“The fact that we didn’t do that is bothersome.”

Isaiah Pead started at running back for St. Louis, a chance to gain on front-runner Daryl Richardson, but was held to 19 yards on 11 carries.

Packers first-round pick Datone Jones, a defensive end, did not dress after injuring an ankle last week. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson is expected back from knee injury in time for the opener and Randall Cobb, who had a team-leading 80 receptions last season, has a biceps injury.

Finley caught four passes for 76 yards in the first half. Rookie Eddie Lacy, competing with injured DuJuan Harris for the running back job, had 40 yards on eight carries plus an 11-yard reception by the break.

Crosby was 3 for 3, connecting from 34 and 48 yards in the first half on Rodgers’ series, and adding a 30-yarder in the third quarter that had enough despite getting tipped by the Rams’ Cody Davis. Tryout Giorgio Tavecchio missed a 49-yard attempt in the first quarter and hit a 38-yarder near the end of the half for a 9-0 lead.

The Rams stalled at the Green Bay 38 on their opening drive when Bradford hit Austin for a 3-yard gain on fourth-and-5 and Greg Zuerlein missed a 50-yard field goal attempt on Bradford’s other possession. Bradford threw a touchdown pass in the preseason opener, a 27-19 loss at Cleveland.

Johnny Jolly made big plays on two interceptions against Kellen Clemens in the third quarter, deflecting a pass at the line that was intercepted by Jarrett Bush to set up a field goal, and then picking off Clemens in the end zone. The latter took punt returner Brandon Smith off the hook for a lost fumble at the Green Bay 10.

Clemens, competing with Austin Davis to be Bradford’s backup, has thrown two interceptions in both preseason games. He was 2 for 11 for 27 yards.

Vince Young opened the second half at quarterback for Green Bay and was 5 for 29 for 26 yards.

Will Witherspoon started at outside linebacker for the Rams ahead of Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who is suspended the first four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Dunbar saw his first action in the second quarter.

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