The Green Bay Packers have been steadfast in their support of Graham Harrell, and he backed up their convictions during a 24-3 victory over Kansas City in Thursday night’s preseason finale.
Harrell, given the pass protection and help from his supporting cast that had been lacking the last three weeks, completed 13-of-15 passes for 223 yards, two touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. He led the team to touchdowns on all three of his possessions, with the touchdown passes being a 17-yard screen to Alex Green before halftime and 12 yards to Jarrett Boykin to start the third quarter.
Aaron Rodgers and the No. 1 offense continued their lackluster preseason. In two drives, the Packers went three-and-out both times and gained 17 yards. Rodgers went 1-for-2 for 5 yards on the first drive and handed off three times on the second. For the preseason, Rodgers and the No. 1 offense scored on just four of 14 possessions, with three touchdowns and one field goal. He threw one touchdown in the preseason after 19 touchdown passes in his previous four preseasons as the starter.
Harrell took over with the Packers’ first possession of the second half. On third-and-12 from the 18, Harrell rifled a pass over the middle to Jermichael Finley for 27 yards. Then came one of the Packers’ pet plays with Rodgers, with Harrell faking a handoff and rolling to his right. That let Tori Gurley get free deep over the middle for a 54-yard gain to the 1-yard line. One play later, Green ran behind left guard Greg Van Roten and center Evan Dietrich-Smith for the touchdown.
Harrell then led a 10-play, 93-yard scoring drive before halftime, including a third-and-14 completion to Boykin in which Harrell scrambled to the left and found Boykin wide-open for a 16-yard gain. Harrell followed with a 17-yard completion to Diondre Borel and the screen to Green for the touchdown.
“I think it’s nice for the second- (team) offense to have some success,” coach Mike McCarthy said at halftime. “They need to continue in the second half like we talked about … He knows what he’s doing. He’s had some opportunities. I thought he played well in the first half.”
It was more of the same to start the third quarter, with Harrell-to-Boykin completions of 21 yards and 12 yards starting and capping a seven-play, 77-yard scoring march. That made it 21-3 with 10:12 to go in the third quarter.
Defensively, the No. 1 unit – minus Charles Woodson (rest) -- allowed a field goal on the opening possession, with Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel dialing up nine consecutive runs. Later, the Packers got an end-zone interception from Sam Shields to stop one drive and sacks from Terrell Manning, Erik Walden and Mike Daniels.
Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.
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.