The Green Bay Packers were in anything but midseason form in losing 21-13 in their preseason opener at the San Diego Chargers.
Last season, Green Bay finished second in the league with a franchise-record 14 giveaways. The Packers, however, had three in the first quarter on Thursday night.
The first, a fumble on a botched handoff to James Starks, turned into San Diego’s first touchdown when Philip Rivers hit tight end Antonio Gates for a 23-yard touchdown. The touchdown came immediately after standout inside linebacker Desmond Bishop was helped off the field. Coach Mike McCarthy said it was a knee sprain with perhaps an additional injury to Bishop's hamstring, though a more thorough exam in Green Bay would determine the true extent of the injury.
The second, a fumble by Diondre Borel, came on the ensuing kickoff, but Tramon Williams bailed him out with an interception.
The third, an interception thrown by Aaron Rodgers, turned into San Diego’s second touchdown when Jarrett Lee hit Vincent Brown for a 27-yard touchdown.
Rodgers had a miserable night, going 2-of-8 for 16 yards and the interception, which was forced when first-round pick Melvin Ingram beat fill-in left tackle Herb Taylor.
Graham Harrell, who finished 15-of-27 for 135 yards, led a pair of touchdown drives. The first was a two-minute series before halftime, with a 28-yard completion to Randall Cobb setting up a 3-yard touchdown to Cobb. The second was a run-heavy drive in which rookie Marc Tyler carried seven times, including three in a row in which he gained 2 and 3 yards before punching it in from the 1 with 11:21 remaining in the game. McCarthy went for the two-point conversion, hoping to put Green Bay in front 15-14 rather than tied 14-14, but Harrell threw incomplete to Jarrett Boykin.
The Chargers tacked on a touchdown just after the two-minute warning, with Curtis Brinkley’s 1-yard run capping a nine-play, 76-yard drive to make it 21-13.
B.J. Coleman drove the Packers past midfield but Tyler was stripped by Ricky Elmore, who flopped as a sixth-round pick last year. for a game-ending turnover.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.