Packers running back Aaron Jones rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown as Green Bay won their fourth straight game with a 24-16 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night.
Aaron Rodgers threw for only 143 yards with one touchdown. His 40th of the season and becomes the first player to accomplish that feat in three separate NFL seasons. He needs five TD’s to match his career-high of 45 set during his MVP year in 2011.
The Packers jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead and had to fight off the Panthers in the second half, who were without star running back Christian McCaffrey. A 13-yard touchdown run by Teddy Bridgewater pulled Carolina back into the game midway through the third quarter down 21-10, but time became a factor and so did scoring opportunities.
They settled for a 22-yard field goal from Joey Slye on their next offensive possession after holding Green Bay to going three and out. The 16-play drive ate up almost nine minutes off the clock, leaving the Packers clinging to an eight point lead with 8:39 left. Carolina was not out of the game at any point and had a chance to force overtime on their final possession, but time and luck was not on their side starting on their own 20-yard line with 55 second left.
The Panthers (4-10) have dropped three straight including eight of their last nine games with five of those at Bank of America Stadium. Bridgewater finished 21-of-35 for 258 yards with the touchdown run. D.J. Moore had six receptions for 131 yards, and Slye finished with three field goals. Both Moore and Robby Anderson went over 1,000 yards receiving for the season on Saturday night. Anderson was targeted five times with two receptions and 21 yards.
Green Bay (11-3) has a slight advantage over the New Orleans Saints for the NFC’s best record. The Packers currently hold a tiebreaker after beating the Saints 37-30 on Sept. 27.
Carolina heads to Washington for a post-Christmas meeting with former coach Ron Rivera on Dec. 27 (1 p.m./ WBT). They’ll wrap up the season at home against the Saints a week later on Jan. 3.