Aaron Jones dares his opponents to keep doubting him.
Already the team’s leading rusher heading into Week 8’s primetime matchup against the Chiefs, the Packers’ third-year running back knew he had more to prove. More to offer. More to showcase.
“I want it here,” Jones told NBC on Sunday, pointing toward his chest. “It starts right here in the heart. If you want it there, it will take you a long way and just in my mind, my mentality is, ‘Keep doubting me.’ And I’ll just keep working hard every day and go after what I want.”
In a 31–24 win, he did exactly that.
Jones, looking to help Aaron Rodgers (23-of-33 for 305 yards and three touchdowns) adapt to the absence of Pro Bowl receiver Davante Adams, further established himself as one of his quarterback’s go-to targets on Sunday night, hauling in seven catches for 159 yards and two scores in the victory. The 24-year-old back was also the team’s leading rusher with 67 yards on 13 attempts.
Jones’s performance proved key in the Packers’ seventh win of the season. The game was closer (and more enjoyable) than what was widely expected after Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was ruled out with a dislocated knee suffered last week. After a slow start to the contest, backup quarterback Matt Moore eventually found his rhythm, looking to the Chiefs’ biggest playmakers to get Kansas City into the endzone trailing 14–0 early. First it was Travis Kelce, whose 29-yard catch-and-run made cut the deficit to one score with 6:14 left in the second quarter. Then it was rookie speedster Mecole Hardman, who scored a 30-yard touchdown on what amounted to an end-around.
By the end of the half, the Chiefs had scored 17 unanswered points, and the game was still tied at 24 a piece with 9:03 left in the fourth quarter.
Then Jones broke free.
Three plays after the Chiefs had evened the score, Jones exploded out of the backfield and found a seam, hauling in a short pass that essentially wound up clinching the game.
Jones wasn’t alone in creating the magic for the Packers. After a LeSean McCoy fumble set Green Bay’s offense up at the Chiefs’ 27-yard line, Rodgers was staring down a third-and-3, down 24–17 in the fourth quarter. The 15-year veteran had already taken five sacks on the night, the most he’d endured since Week 1. Feeling the pressure yet again, Rodgers rolled out of the pocket and heaved a pass toward the right sideline as he fell to the ground. There, Damien Williams somehow took the ball away from Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann while tapping both feet inbounds.
Rodgers was lying on his back as the official signaled touchdown.
It didn’t matter that Moore finished the game a sound 24-of-36 for 267 yards and two scores. It didn’t matter that Kansas City’s offense was good without Mahomes, exchanging late punches throughout the outing.
“Good” simply wasn’t good enough against Jones and Rodgers, whose big plays in big moments made the difference for the Packers.
“He’s a special guy,” Rodgers told NBC postgame. “He’s great in the locker room, he’s a great young leader, and he’s a fantastic player. He does everything the right way. He doesn’t have an ego and he’s just a hell of a player. I’m glad we have him on our team.”
After a performance like Sunday’s, the Packers are surely glad to have him, too.