By Eric Goska
|Aaron Jones begins his 77-yard, fourth-quarter TD run.|
(screenshot from NFL Game Pass)
Call him the closer.
Aaron Jones wielded the dagger in Green Bay’s 30-16 win over Philadelphia Sunday. His 77-yard jaunt served as the longest play from scrimmage and the longest run of his career.
The sprint reminded all that Jones is a threat to go the distance on any play. It also squelched the comeback aspirations of the Eagles who had put up two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the span of 89 seconds.
Jones’ lightning bolt came with the Packers clinging to a 23-16 lead. A 20-point advantage early in the quarter had withered to seven after the Eagles scored on fourth-and-18 and on a 73-yard punt return.
When Aaron Rodgers and company took over at the Packers’ 20-yard line with two minutes, 57 seconds remaining, Green Bay could ill afford another three-and-out. That’s all the unit had mustered on two previous possessions, gaining a total of six yards.
Another quick exit would leave Philadelphia with plenty of time to finish its rally.
Jones carried for three yards on first down, and Philly stopped the clock with 2:51 to go. Just six seconds had come off the clock.
Something more was needed. That’s when Jones sent the Eagles packing.
On second down, Guard Lucas Patrick walled off defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Tight end Marcedes Lewis double dipped, his pancake block of Duke Riley bringing both the linebacker and Vinnie Curry down after the defensive end tumbled over the fallen body of his teammate.
A diving Alex Singleton got just enough of Jones to cause a stumble near the 30. But Jones recovered and reached out to stiffarm K’Von Wallace who fell to earth at the 40.
Tackle David Bakhtiari and receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught up with Jones as he neared midfield. Valdes-Scantling screened off safety Rodney McLeod and cornerback Michael Jacquet until McLeod pulled ahead and forced Jones to slow and cut back inside the Eagles 30.
Valdes-Scantling continued to box out Jacquet. McLeod hit the turf in a futile flop at the 21.
That left a streaking Avonte Maddox – coming from clear across the field – with the last shot. The cornerback grabbed Jones’ jersey at the 3, but didn’t secure enough cloth to prevent the running back from crossing the goal line.
With 2:36 remaining, Green Bay was up by two touchdowns. Darnell Savage Jr. then intercepted rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts after the two minute warning, and Green Bay used six plays to run out the clock.
How unusual was Jones’ scamper? Only six other Packers have uncorked a run of 70-plus yards in the fourth quarter: Ahman Green (98, 70), Tom Moore (77), Najeh Davenport (76), Paul Hornung (72) and Andy Uram (70).
The runs by Davenport and Jones were the only registered with less than three minutes remaining.
The game at Lambeau Field was the 50th regular-season contest of Jones’ career. The milestone provides an opportunity to compare his work with that of others in franchise history.
By gaining 130 yards rushing, Jones (3,014 yards) became the sixth Packer to surpass 3,000 yards on the ground in his first 50 games. The others are Ahman Green (4,244), John Brockington (3,708), Ryan Grant (3,522), Jim Taylor (3,430) and Eddie Lacy (3,370).
Jones has now amassed 3,995 yards from srimmage. That’s fifth best behind Green (5,899), Brockington (4,355), Lacy (4,264) and Grant (3,999).
But make no mistake. Jones is second to none when it comes to touchdowns and average per carry.
Jones has scored 41 touchdowns from scrimmage. That’s more than Taylor (40), Green (38) or the incomparable Don Hutson (35) tallied in their first 50 games.
Furthermore, Jones has been the very definition of efficiency, averaging 5.07 yards per crack on 595 rushing attempts. He and Rodgers (5.03) are the only two players in team history to have bettered five yards a try with a minimum of 500 carries.
In a perfect world, Jones’ production would continue for another 50 games. But his rookie contract is up after this season and, given his talent, the back who turned 26 on Dec. 2 might find himself elsewhere come 2021.
The nine Packers players who gained more than 3,500 yards from scrimmage in their first 50 regular-season games.
Yards Player Rush Rec TDs
5,899 Ahman Green 4,244 1,655 38
4,355 John Brockington 3,708 647 20
4,264 Eddie Lacy 3,370 894 29
3,999 Ryan Grant 3,522 477 24
3,995 Aaron Jones 3,014 981 41
3,908 Jim Taylor 3,430 478 40
3,813 Bill Howton 0 3,813 32
3,567 Gerry Ellis 1,983 1,584 20
3,515 Eddie Lee Ivery 2,464 1,051 27