GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James is still feeling the sting that comes from losing a game in which his team’s offense had scored touchdowns on its last five possessions.
“My name is on it,” James said. “Everyone’s name is one it. I don’t like the way it feels. Like I said, we’ll get another opportunity this Sunday to change that. That’s what we’re looking forward to.”
The Chargers (4-5) will be facing a Green Bay team that's starting to shed its reputation for slow starts. Now the Packers (3-6) need to become better finishers.
After scoring a total of 16 first-half points in a six-game stretch, the Packers reached the end zone on two of their first three drives Sunday while falling 23-19 at Pittsburgh. They lost due in part to their struggles whenever they got near the goal line.
The Packers have scored touchdowns on just two of nine trips to the red zone over their last two games.
Green Bay knows it can’t waste opportunities against the Chargers, who have averaged 31.7 points over their last three games but are ranked 31st in total defense. The Packers haven’t exceeded the 20-point mark since a 25-24 loss in Atlanta way back on Sept. 17.
“Every game, you’ve got to have that mindset that you never know what they’re going to do offensively, but you’ve always got to be able to match them and obviously go one step above,” Packers quarterback Jordan Love said. “And when the defense gets a stop, we’ve got to go capitalize on that, put up points. But that’s kind of the mindset we’re always ready for, is we’ve got to really just going forward, we’ve got to be able to put up points on every drive, just kind of focus on doing us, focus on what we’re doing.”
RUNNING BACK WATCH
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler was sidelined for a month due to ankle injury, but he has started to return to form over the past three games.
He has become more of a receiving threat out of the backfield with 13 of his 22 receptions occurring over that span.
Ekeler, who led the league with 18 scrimmage touchdowns (13 rushing, five receiving) last season, has reached the end zone four times in the last three weeks.
For Green Bay, Aaron Jones is coming off a subpar performance in which he was held to 35 yards on 13 carries. AJ Dillon has come on lately, as he has 110 yards on 18 carries over his last two games.
Love and Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert know each other well, at least in part because of their college ties to David Yost.
Yost was Oregon’s quarterbacks coach during Herbert’s freshman year with the Ducks and later was Love’s offensive coordinator at Utah State.
“We train together in the offseason at the same place,” Love said. “We trained together coming out at the combine. He’s a great dude. He’s fantastic. I think he’s balled out.”
Los Angeles comes in with the league’s worst pass defense, allowing 291.2 yards per game. The Chargers and Washington are the only two teams in the league to have two cornerbacks in the top 10 in most yards allowed as the nearest defender in coverage.
According to the league’s Next Gen Stats, Asante Samuel has allowed 566 yards, which is second most. Michael Davis is seventh at 477 yards. Overall, opposing receivers have been wide open at a 25.8% rate, the sixth-highest percentage in the league.
The Packers continue to rely heavily on their rookie class, particularly in the passing game.
Jayden Reed, a second-round pick from Michigan State, has a team-high 417 yards receiving. Reed had five catches for 84 yards, tight end and second-round selection Luke Musgrave had two receptions for 64 yards and fifth-round pick Dontayvion Wicks had three catches for 51 yards against the Steelers.
That marked the first time in Packers history that three rookies had at least 50 yards receiving in the same game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
RARE TRIP TO LAMBEAU
This marks the Chargers’ first trip to Lambeau Field since a 27-20 loss to the Packers on 2015. That was a wild game in which the Chargers’ Philip Rivers threw for 503 yards, but the Packers sealed the win with a fourth-and-goal stop from the 3 with 15 seconds left.
The Chargers haven’t won at Lambeau Field since 1984 but have only played here three times since.
AP Sports Writer Joe Reedy contributed to this report.
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