The Associated Press
GREEN BAY, Wis.–Running back Aaron Jones’ break-out game led to a breakthrough performance in the red zone for the Green Bay Packers.
In Sunday’s 31-12 victory over the Miami Dolphins, Jones rushed for a career-high 145 yards and two touchdowns.
With Jones taking some of the pressure off quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers scored four touchdowns in four possessions inside the Dolphins’ 20-yard line.
It was Green Bay’s first perfect day with more than one red-zone possession since Week 4 of the 2017 season.
“You saw it the other night,” Rodgers said Tuesday.
“Running the football in the red zone has not been a high priority for us, but the abilities that he [Jones] brings slashing inside can give us some opportunities to run some more of those plays in the red zone.”
Their next test comes tonight on the road against the Seattle Seahawks.
Situational football–red zone and third down–has been troublesome for Green Bay’s offence all season.
Before the Miami game, the Packers ranked sixth in total offence (406.6 yards per game) but only were 14th in scoring (24.0 points per game) because of inconsistencies on third down (17th, 39.4 percent conversion rate) and the red zone (19th, 53.9 percent touchdowns).
Against the Dolphins, they gained 377 yards but scored 31 points, thanks in large part to their success in the red zone.
The threat of the running game gives the Packers (4-4-1) another option as they advance toward the goal line.
While Jones scored on runs of two and 10 yards, Rodgers threw touchdown passes of seven and 25 yards to receiver Davante Adams to punctuate the other two red zone possessions.
Adams is tied for second in the NFL with nine touchdown receptions. Of those, a league-high eight have come in the red zone.
Since the start of the 2016 season, Adams has a league-high 22 red zone touchdown receptions.
The closer to the goal line, the less space there is to operate and the more difficult it becomes to throw. Adams’ edge comes from being one of the NFL’s premier route runners.
“Because the window is so tight, and he can create enough separation to where he makes that window bigger,” Rodgers said.
With Jones’ emergence to join Rodgers and Adams, the Packers hope they have the firepower for back-to-back road tests against Seattle and Minnesota.
“It puts the defence in a bind,” Adams said. “It puts them to where they’ve got to load up that box and it allows us to have more opportunities outside.
“If they keep moving the ball like that and slashing and making big plays, it’s pretty tough to figure out what to defend,” he noted.