GREEN BAY, Wis. — Randall Cobb got messy on his Lambeau Leap.
A fan spilled ketchup on the receiver’s uniform during his post-touchdown celebration in the second quarter of Green Bay’s 38-17 win Sunday over the Carolina Panthers.
It was about the only stain on an otherwise flawless first half for the Packers.
Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes, Cobb torched the Carolina secondary for 121 yards and a score on six catches and Green Bay dominated after building a 28-3 lead at halftime.
The sure-tackling Packers (5-2) limited quarterback Cam Newton. Green Bay scored on its first three series, and the 25-point lead at halftime eliminated the threat of the Panthers’ ground game.
Cobb said it might have been the team’s most complete performance of the season.
“It definitely was a great game for us offensively, being able to put things together the way we did with the run, with the pass, play-action,” Cobb said. “So as long as we can continue to execute the game plan and make plays, we’re going to continue to have these types of wins.”
It even makes the ketchup bath worth it.
“I apologize to whoever’s hot dog that was. It was fresh. I know that because I had all of the ketchup on me,” Cobb said.
Newton, who had a career-high 17 carries last week, had 41 yards rushing on seven attempts. He passed for 205 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown for Carolina (3-3-1).
“What I did wasn’t good enough and I understand that,” Newton said.
His Packers counterpart was masterful against the Carolina defense. The 2011 MVP was 19 of 22 for 255 yards before leaving early in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.
“We had 21 first-quarter points ... which made them one-dimensional,” Rodgers said, “especially with the way that Cam ran the ball last week.”
It was Rodgers’ sixth straight game without an interception, tying Bart Starr for the franchise record set in 1964.
Rodgers finished Sunday with a quarterback rating of 154.5, and the Packers said he was just the second player in NFL history with a rating of 150 or more in two of the first seven games of the season. New England’s Tom Brady also did it in 2007.
Coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers is much better than three seasons ago. Rodgers thought he could do more.
Carolina coach Ron Rivera saw more than enough.
“It’s a well-developed offense. They have great communication,” Rivera said. “That’s what Aaron Rodgers has developed with his players.”
The Packers scored on their first series after Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for a 59-yard scoring strike and never looked back to win their fourth straight. Eddie Lacy and James Starks each added rushing touchdowns in the first quarter.
The Panthers finally got their first touchdown with 9:39 left in the fourth quarter after Newton found receiver Kelvin Benjamin for a 13-yard score.
Nearly everything went right for the Packers in the first half, when nearly everything went wrong for the Panthers.
Carolina had pushed Green Bay back to third-and-12 on the Packers 28 on the first drive when the Panthers were whistled for back-to-back penalties. Rodgers scrambled for 3 yards on third-and-2 before finding Nelson for the long touchdown pass.
Nelson got behind cornerback Antoine Cason, who then slipped. Safety Roman Harper watched Nelson sidestep around him and jog all the way into the end zone.
“It was an excellent read by Aaron,” McCarthy said. “Big-play production — that’s how you win in this league.”
Green Bay’s next drive ended with Lacy high-stepping his way for a 5-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 5:53 left in the first quarter.
Carolina’s frustration mounted as the deficit grew.
Linebacker Luke Kuechly was ejected late in the third quarter. Last season’s Defensive Player of the Year swung his arms and seemed agitated as he was restrained from behind by back judge Steve Freeman following a scramble for a fumble recovered by the Packers.
The linebacker calmed down when he turned around and saw the official, who threw a flag with about two minutes left in the quarter. Kuechly said he didn’t mean to do it.