GREEN BAY — The interception didn’t clinch a Green Bay Packers victory, as his end zone pick did a month earlier in Arizona. In fact, it didn’t even give his team the lead or prevent the Los Angeles Rams from taking the lead, either.
But for the second time this season, cornerback Rasul Douglas delivered a game-changing interception on Sunday, this time an INT that he returned 33 yards for a touchdown in the Packers’ 36-28 victory over the Rams at Lambeau Field.
“Rasul has been a huge pickup for us,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said, referring to how general manager Brian Gutekunst plucked Douglas off the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad in October when injuries struck the cornerback position. “You’ve got to give credit to Gutey and his staff for finding him. I just love how he competes. You see it play in and play out. The guy is so competitive. You see it in practice every day.
“Obviously, he’s made two plays that have made major impacts on games this year.”
That he has. Against the Cardinals, Douglas picked off a Kyler Murray pass in the end zone that would have won the game for Arizona had it been completed to receiver A.J. Green. On Sunday, his interception pushed the Packers’ lead to 36-17, and it came at a time late in the third quarter when the Rams could have seized momentum and perhaps rallied to victory.
Instead, Douglas, who was beaten for a 54-yard Matthew Stafford-to-Odell Beckham Jr. touchdown in the fourth quarter, gave the Packers sufficient breathing room to win despite the offense not being able to put the game away itself.
“That’s what we need. We’re a great team when we get turnovers, takeaways,” said Douglas, who had been rotating in recent games with Kevin King but played the entire game with King (hip/knee) inactive. “We just pride ourselves on that. We get a chance to strip out the ball, get a chance for an interception, you’ve got to do it. We feed off that, off making those plays. Seeing the guys hyped, that makes all of us hyped as a team.”
Wide receiver Randall Cobb caught four first-half passes for 95 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown and a 54-yard catch-and-run to set up a field goal. But he left with a groin injury just before halftime and was quickly ruled out. How severe the injury might be — and whether a bye week could allow him to return in time for the Packers’ Dec. 12 game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field — is unclear, but his performance Sunday reminded everyone that Cobb can still be a key contributor and why his pal/quarterback Aaron Rodgers wanted Gutekunst to trade for him this summer.
“Randall, he’s a special talent. It definitely hurt us losing him at halftime,” LaFleur said. “I thought that he did a hell of a job in that first half when he was playing and made a lot of key plays that helped us get that lead going into the half.”
Said Rodgers, who was Cobb’s teammate from 2011 through 2018 in Cobb’s first tour of duty in Green Bay: “Obviously, Randall is near and dear. (It was) great getting him a touchdown and then, obviously, the big (54-yard) play on the seam ball. I was teasing him after the game. I don’t remember the last time I hit him on a seam (route). It might have been the 2016 playoffs against the (New York) Giants. And (I) definitely haven’t hit him on a choice route in forever. It’s fun having him.”
Rodgers said his broken left pinkie toe “felt good most of the game” but didn’t rule out undergoing surgery during the bye week. He has made it clear that if Dr. Robert Anderson, a world-renowned foot-and-ankle specialist who is on the Packers’ medical staff, does perform surgery on him, it will have to come with the assurance that Rodgers won’t miss any games because of it.
“(I) was just actually in talking with the docs. (We’re) not sure at this point,” Rodgers said. “We’re going to do some more testing in the morning and get a better view of what’s going on in there, and then make a decision at that time.”
Gary, Jones make presence felt
Both outside linebacker Rashan Gary (elbow) and running back Aaron Jones (knee) were able to play, despite both being listed as questionable after missing last week’s loss at Minnesota. And they both made their presence felt.
Gary forced a fumble when he knocked the ball from Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford’s grasp by whacking Stafford’s elbow while being held by left tackle Andrew Whitworth. The sack gave Gary a team-best 6.5 this season, and it set up Rodgers’ 1-yard touchdown run for the Packers’ first points of the game.
While Jones’ snaps were limited and AJ Dillon got most of the work, Jones still carried 10 times for 23 yards, including an 8-yard run.
“I think it says a lot about both of those guys,” LaFleur said. “You have to give a lot of credit to our medical staff and our strength staff getting those guys back, but certainly you’ve got to give credit to those individuals.
“Rashan Gary is a force on every play, with just how much energy he brings. And the same goes for Aaron Jones. But both of those guys, they’re so consistent in their approach and you see if every day when they’re in the building. They have great attitudes. They attack practice the right way. They’re giving extreme effort in every instance, whether it’s in the meeting room, on the practice field, whether it’s in each play in the game. I think that resonates with the other 10 guys on the field and guys feed off of that.”
Photos: Green Bay Packers hold off Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field
Green Bay's season ended with a 13-10 loss to the visiting 49ers at a snowy Lambeau Field, as San Francisco advanced to next weekend’s NFC Championship Game on veteran kicker Robbie Gould’s field goal as time expired.