Rodgers-Cobb connection helps Packers beat Steelers 27-17

Oct 3, 2021, 4:50 AM | Updated: 6:19 pm
Green Bay Packers' Randall Cobb celebrates his touchdown catch with Aaron Rodgers during the first ...

Green Bay Packers' Randall Cobb celebrates his touchdown catch with Aaron Rodgers during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

(AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Randall Cobb demonstrated why Aaron Rodgers wanted the veteran receiver back in Green Bay.

Rodgers connected with Cobb for two touchdowns and ran for another score as the Packers won their third straight, 27-17 over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Cobb began his career in Green Bay and played for the Packers from 2011-18 before landing in Dallas in 2019 and Houston last year. The Packers reacquired Cobb at the start of training camp at Rodgers’ request.

“He’s still a really good player,” Rodgers said.

Cobb caught a 23-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to put the Packers (3-1) ahead for good and scored again on a 1-yard reception that made it 27-10 in the third period. That short throw was the 420th TD pass of Rodgers’ career, tying Dan Marino for sixth all-time.

Cobb said it didn’t take long for him to adapt to playing alongside Rodgers again.

“He understands how I move, so whenever I’m getting ready to break on my route, he knows,” Cobb said. “It’s muscle memory. It’s been a couple of years, but it’s kind of like when you get back around your friends and you remember things that you hadn’t even thought about in so long. It’s kind of that connection that we have.”

Through the first three games, Cobb had four catches for 58 yards. He caught five passes for 69 yards Sunday.

Rodgers and Cobb connected on two third-down completions that set up Green Bay’s touchdown. Cobb’s go-ahead score also came on third down.

“I pride myself in being the third-down guy,” Cobb said.

Rodgers went 20 of 36 for 248 yards and scored the Packers’ first points on a 4-yard rush in his first home start against the Steelers, the only team he hadn’t faced at Lambeau Field.

After falling behind 7-0, Green Bay scored 27 of the next 30 points to seize control.

The list of Packers unable to play Sunday included linebacker Krys Barnes, offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins, cornerback Kevin King and receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Green Bay has been missing All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari all season and hasn’t had outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith since the opening week.

“I thought that was a mature win,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “Just our whole mentality all week, it was very workmanlike. Guys came in very focused. I felt the energy was great.”

Pittsburgh (1-3) has lost three straight, failing to top 17 points in each game, after a surprising season-opening win at Buffalo. Since opening the 2020 season with 11 straight wins, the Steelers have lost eight of 10.

“It’s still super early in the season,” Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt said. “At home next week, and just like every week, it’s a got-to-have-it. But this feeling definitely sucks.”

It was the first time Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger had faced off as starting quarterbacks since Green Bay edged Pittsburgh 31-25 in the Super Bowl on Feb. 6, 2011. Roethlisberger led the Steelers to wins over Green Bay teams quarterbacked by Matt Flynn in 2013 and Brett Hundley in 2017, as separate collarbone injuries prevented Rodgers from playing in either game.

Roethlisberger threw his 400th career touchdown pass on the game’s opening series — a 45-yarder to Diontae Johnson — and became the eighth player to reach that milestone. That ended an 11-game stretch in which Pittsburgh’s offense had failed to score any first-quarter points.

But the Steelers didn’t return to the end zone until Najee Harris scored from 1 yard out with 4:10 left in the game. Roethlisberger ended up going 26 of 40 for 232 yards with an interception.

“I’ll look in the mirror and start pointing the thumb at me, figuring out how to make it better,” Roethlisberger said.

Pittsburgh got a tough break just before halftime as a penalty wiped out a touchdown off a blocked kick that would have put the Steelers ahead.

Green Bay led 14-10 when Pittsburgh’s Minkah Fitzpatrick blocked Mason Crosby’s 31-yard field-goal attempt. Fitzpatrick recovered the ball and raced 75 yards to the end zone, but officials called Pittsburgh’s Joe Haden offside. Crosby made the ensuing 26-yard field goal with 5 seconds left in the first half.

Crosby added a 29-yarder in the third quarter for his 24th consecutive successful field-goal attempt, breaking his own franchise record. Crosby made 23 straight from 2010-11.

INJURIES

Steelers: CB Cam Sutton (groin) and OG Kevin Dotson (leg) left the game.

Packers: CB Jaire Alexander (shoulder) left in the third quarter.

UP NEXT

Steelers: Host Denver next Sunday.

Packers: At Cincinnati next Sunday.

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Follow Steve Megargee at https://twitter.com/stevemegargee

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Rodgers-Cobb connection helps Packers beat Steelers 27-17