|Aaron Jones (33) follows Jamaal Williams (30) to
the end zone|
(screenshot from NFL Game Pass)
The third-year ground gainer provided ample evidence of that in
31-24 victory over the Chiefs Sunday night.
Historically, the Packers have had remarkable success finding backs skilled at catching passes out of the backfield. This tradition stretches at least as far back as Johnny Blood who led the league with 10 receiving touchdowns in 1931.
Jones isn’t likely to duplicate Blood’s feat this season. But the third-year pro from the
of Texas at El Paso has put defensive coordinators on
notice with his work in the passing game.
Jones amassed 226 yards from scrimmage at Arrowhead Stadium. The vast majority was produced after fielding throws from Aaron Rodgers.
How big was Jones’ haul? It accounted for more than 60 percent of the Packers’ 374-yard offensive output.
Jones caught seven passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns. He became just the second Packers running back to surpass 150 receiving yards in a game joining Andy Uram who gained 174 yards against the Cardinals in 1942.
In order, Jones’ seven catches picked up 2, 17, 4, 50, 11, 67 and 8 yards. He, Uram and Paul Hornung are the only backs in club annals to have caught two passes of 50 or more yards in the same game.
Five of Jones’ receptions delivered first downs. Six occurred on scoring drives.
His first long-gainer came late in the first quarter. Initially ruled a 60-yard touchdown, it was reduced by 10 yards upon review as Jones’ heel clipped the sideline boundary. The catch-and-run helped set up Jamaal Williams’ 1-yard plunge that put Green Bay ahead 14-0.
His second long-gainer went the distance midway through the fourth quarter. Jones accepted a pass behind the line of scrimmage, then outraced linebacker Anthony Hitchens and safeties Juan Thornhill and Daniel Sorensen to score from 67 yards out to give the Packers a 31-24 lead with eight minutes, two seconds remaining.
Jones also counted on a three-yard shovel pass to cap
Green Bay’s opening
All this from a back who was rarely utilized as a receiver when he first left college. As a rookie in 2017, Jones caught just nine passes for a meager 22 yards in 12 games.
A year ago, Jones snagged 26 for 206 yards and a touchdown. This season, he has gained 355 yards and has scored three times on a team-high 34 receptions.
Should Jones continue on his current pace, he would wind up with 68 catches for 710 yards. That yardage total would break Edgar Bennett’s single-season Packers record for a running back (648) set in 1995.
200 Yards from Scrimmage
In collecting 100 receiving yards – the 13th
Green Bay running back to
do so in a regular-season game – Jones became just the seventh Packers back to
produce 200 or more yards from scrimmage in an outing. Combine his 159 receiving
yards and his 67 rushing yards and the resulting 226 he earned for the night is
the second-highest total by a back in team annals.
Jim Taylor (twice), John Brockington, Eddie Lee Ivery, Dorsey Levens, Darick Holmes and Ahman Green (thrice) all attained 200. Ivery, like Jones, got there because he topped 100 yards receiving.
Jones’ 200 stands out for a couple of reasons. First, he needed fewer touches (20) to reach the milestone than the others. Second, he gained positive yards on each of his 20 touches, something only Green can claim to have done when he set the franchise record for rushing yards in a game (218) on Dec. 28, 2003.
For more than three quarters, Jones’ output (114 yards on 11 touches) fell far short of 200. It appeared unlikely he would break his personal best of 182 set in
earlier this season.
But with the game on the line, Jones delivered. He became the go-to back after
running back Damien Williams danced into the end zone from three yards out to
tie the game 24-24 with 9:01 remaining.
Jones then either carried or caught the ball on nine of
Green Bay’s next 10
plays. That he absconded with 112 yards during a time in which Kansas City was in shutdown mode is a
testament to his skills as a runner and receiver.
Jones ripped off 8 yards up the middle to start the Packers’ second-to-last drive. He followed with his 67-yard touchdown dash, the longest reception of his career.
Not satisfied, Jones rushed six times for 29 yards and a pair of first downs on the team’s final possession. His 8-yard reception on third-and-five allowed Rodgers to conclude the festivities with a trio of kneel-downs.
Thanks to Jones, the Packers did not have to part with the ball in the final 5:04. That possessiveness was similar to the Lions game in which
ran out the final 6:46 before Mason Crosby dispatched the Lions with a 23-yard
field goal as time ran out.
If this refusal to part with the football at game’s end is the start of a trend, it is most welcome. Rare is the opponent that can muster a last-minute comeback when deprived of the football.
Rodgers threw for 305 yards. Jones had 159 receiving yards. Sunday was the first time in Rodgers’ 166 regular-season starts that a running back was responsible for more than half of the quarterback’s passing yards in a game.
Got Your Back
Packers running backs who gained 200 or more yards from scrimmage in a regular-season game.