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Broncos Fall to Rodgers, Defending Champs

Posted Oct 2, 2011

Denver held tough in Green Bay early on, but the Packers eventually pulled away for a 49-23 victory at Lambeau Field.

GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- For a half, the Broncos hung with the undefeated, defending Super Bowl champions.

But by the end of Sunday's game, Aaron Rodgers' MVP-like performance was too much to overcome, and the Green Bay Packers handed the Broncos a 49-23 loss at Lambeau Field.

"We lost to a better team today, no doubt about it," said Kyle Orton, who finished the game with 273 passing yard, three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Rodgers didn't play in the final series of the game, giving way to his backup, Matt Flynn, after leading his team to a 49-17 advantage.

The Super Bowl XLV MVP passed for 408 yards, four touchdowns -- not to mention his two rushing touchdowns -- and an interception, good for a quarterback rating of 134.5.

"He’s playing as well as any quarterback I’ve seen in the league and I’ve been in the league – this is my 23rd season," Head Coach John Fox said. "He’s got a pretty good supporting cast and I think Mike McCarthy and his staff do an outstanding job. They’re pedal to the metal and they execute very, very well."

Denver put the first points on the board -- a 27-yard Matt Prater field goal -- but the Packers answered right back with 21 straight points.

First, Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson on a 50-yard touchdown strike. Three plays later, Charles Woodson intercepted an Orton pass intended for Eric Decker and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. Sticking to that "pedal-to-the-metal" attitude, Green Bay then successfully executed an onside kick, and proceeded to string together a 7-play drive that culminated with Rodgers' first rushing touchdown.

“I think right away we started slow, had that turnover and played catch-up the whole game from there," Decker said. "Just give credit to them, they just kind of ran away with it."

But the game wasn't over quite yet.

“I thought all of our guys fought hard," Orton said. "I thought we had great energy in the huddle. Everybody believed we could come back, and we had a great stretch there in the second quarter."

Once the Broncos got the ball back, they had an answer. On consecutive plays, Orton found Brandon Lloyd for an 18-yard strike and a 44-yard bomb on a flea flicker to put the ball on the 5-yard line.

The offense closed the drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Decker, and the score was a more manageable 21-10. But Orton and Decker weren't finished.

After the defense forced a three-and-out, thanks in part to a Von Miller sack -- one of two on the day for the rookie -- the offense took back over, and put together an eight-play drive. Orton closed it out with a 33-yard touchdown to Decker.

“On the first (touchdown), give credit to Brandon -- he definitely stretched the field and got us down in the red zone," Decker said. "That play we ran for the touchdown was one that we’ve executed a bunch in practice -- easy walk-in. The second one was just a good, back-shoulder throw from Kyle, and I just made an adjustment."

Decker finished with 56 yards and two touchdowns, while Lloyd racked up 136 yards through the air.

"We rallied back and showed the character of this team, but against a good team, it’s very difficult to withstand," said Elvis Dumervil, who returned to action for the first time since Week 1.

The Packers scored just before halftime, then came out of the tunnel in the second half and quickly put up another touchdown, and the game begin to get out of reach.

Down 35-17, the Broncos had another shot to get back in the contest, as Orton found Daniel Fells at the Green Bay 4-yard line, but Desmond Bishop forced the tight end to fumble and the Packers recovered. Five plays later, Green Bay was back in the end zone and in control with a 42-17 lead.

As well as Green Bay executed, Fox said the outcome had to do with Denver mistakes as well.

"Don't get me wrong, we were to blame on a lot of stuff," Fox said. "No doubt we’ve got a ways to go – that wasn’t a total surprise to me. I think missing Champ Bailey didn’t really help matters much with multiple wideouts. We learned a little bit about some of our players and some of our schemes. We aspire to be where they are, and we’re not there yet."

Dumervil said a look at the final scoreboard was "embarrassing," and as a defensive player he never wants to see a number as high as 49.

"But that’s the beauty of the NFL, we get a chance to redeem ourselves quickly against a good team in San Diego in our house," Dumervil said.

At 1-3, the Broncos stressed the importance of next Sunday's AFC West clash against the Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

“Division game -- we need this one," Decker said. "Right now, obviously we’re behind with one win, three losses. We’ve got to go into the bye week with a win and some momentum.”