Upon Further Review: Packers lean on running backs in win over Chiefs
Sunday's game didn’t deliver the Aaron Rodgers vs. Patrick Mahomes matchup we were promised when the schedule was released, but there was more than enough quarterbacking magic to go around.
Missing top target Davante Adams for the fourth straight week, Rodgers and the Packers made do, leaning on running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams en route to a 31-24 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Jones, the third-year back who dropped a sure touchdown pass and lost a key fumble two weeks ago, led the Packers in targets, receptions and receiving yards in Kansas City, while Williams scored twice in the fourth quarter.
A huge game from Jones isn't exactly shocking -- he torched the Dallas Cowboys for four touchdowns less than a month ago -- but his emergence as a pass catcher is a promising development. More on that later.
Sacked five times for the first time since Week 1, Rodgers went 23-for-33 for 305 yards and three touchdowns with a 129.0 passer rating, including a spectacular touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that ranks among his best of the year.
Mahomes vs. Rodgers will have to wait, but Sunday's game was more than worthy of prime time.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jones finished the day with 226 yards from scrimmage and two scores, and is now averaging a whopping 5.5 yards per touch through eight games. Jones got the Packers on the board with a four-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, then put the Packers in front again late in the fourth, turning a quick pass into a 67-yard score. He went back to work on Green Bay's final possession, grinding out crucial yards after the Chiefs pinned the Packers on their own 2-yard line. He picked up a combined 37 yards and a pair of first downs on that final drive, putting Kansas City away.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
It was a relatively quiet night for the Packers' new-look defense, but outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith was sharp once again. The veteran defender sacked Moore twice, giving him five takedowns over his past four games, finishing with four tackles, two for loss, and three quarterback hits on the night.
Veteran backup Matt Moore displayed a solid command of the Chiefs' league-leading offense, but Rodgers showed off his near-mastery of the position with the Packers in the red zone early in the fourth quarter. Flushed out of the pocket and well behind the line of scrimmage, Rodgers appeared to throw it away on third-and-1, only to find a window -- and Williams -- in the back corner of the end zone. Jones had the final say with that 67-yard touchdown on the Packers' next drive, but it was a huge day for both backs, even if the numbers favored Jones.
1 -- Jones' development as a pass-catcher was on full display just two weeks after he dropped a sure touchdown pass against the Detroit Lions. The third-year back had just one touchdown catch in his first two seasons combined. He's up to three in the last two weeks, and has 355 receiving yards on the season after posting just 228 receiving yards combined in his first two seasons.
THEY SAID IT
"We kind of caught lightning in a bottle there a couple of times. Hit him on a slant-and-go for 50 and on a screen pass for 70 or whatever. He's a talented guy. I'm very proud of him." -- Aaron Rodgers on Aaron Jones
"I totally trust our quarterback, and I trust Aaron Jones as a receiver. He made some great plays all night long." -- Packers head coach Matt LaFleur
After a few weeks of confusion early in the season a hierarchy in the NFC North has finally been established, with the Packers now in front at 7-1, followed closely by the 6-2 Minnesota Vikings, then the 3-3-1 Detroit Lions and 3-4 Chicago Bears. Next up for the Packers: A road game against the Los Angeles Chargers, who dropped the Chicago Bears on Sunday after losing three straight. Green Bay returns home to take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 10 before their Week 11 bye.