GREEN BAY, Wis. — Byron Bell, the Green Bay Packers’ right guard, took the obvious approach when asked what it’s like blocking for Aaron.
“He’s special,” Bell said. “My job is to block. That’s what I get paid to do. It don’t matter how long it takes for ’12’ to get the ball out.”
Bell was answering about quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The question was about running back Aaron Jones.
While Rodgers threw for a mundane 199 yards, Jones rushed for a career-high 145 yards and two touchdowns to lift Green Bay to a critical 31-12 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Green Bay, playing its only home game in a stretch sandwiched between two road games, rebounded from losses at the Rams and Patriots to improve to 4-4-1. Up next are road games on Thursday night at Seattle (4-5) and at NFC North rival Minnesota (5-3-1). The Packers are 4-0-1 at home but 0-4 on the road.
“We need to win games. That’s the obvious,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I think we play well at home; we played well again today. There’s definitely some things we were focused on that we improved. But everybody knows what our record is. We haven’t won on the road yet. So that’s an obvious emphasis this week.”
Jones got the Packers off and running. On the opening series, he had two rushes for 27 yards and two catches for 27 yards. Rodgers hit receiver Davante Adams for a 7-yard touchdown pass to give the Packers a quick 7-0 lead. After Miami cut the margin to 7-3, Jones ripped off a 67-yard run. On the first play of the second quarter, he scored from the 2 to up the lead to 14-3.
“At this level in the NFL, I’ll take it every day,” said Jones, who built upon his NFL-best 6.0 yards per carry by averaging 9.7 on Sunday. “I’m excited about my performance, and just to keep building. It starts up front and with the rest of the blocking unit.”
Miami (5-5) managed only four field goals by Jason Sanders. The biggest of the blown scoring opportunities came in the third quarter. Brandon Bolden’s blocked punt gave the Dolphins possession at the Packers’ 28. Backup quarterback Brock Osweiler, playing behind an offensive line without three starters, couldn’t get the Dolphins a first down, let alone a touchdown. Sanders’ 40-yarder cut the margin to 14-12.
The Packers delivered the knockout punches in a span of barely 2 minutes. First, Jones scored on a 10-yard run. Moments later, Osweiler was intercepted by cornerback Bashaud Breeland. Rodgers’ 25-yard touchdown pass to Adams made it 28-12.
While Green Bay scored four touchdowns in four red-zone possessions, the Dolphins went 0 for 3.
“We just have to execute in the red zone,” Miami coach Adam Gase said. “When we get our chances, we need to hit what’s open, we need to protect at the right time, run the right routes. When we have what we’re looking for on defense, we have to make that play.”
The Dolphins have gone back-to-back games without scoring an offensive touchdown. After next week’s bye, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill could be back in the lineup. He’s missed the last five games with an injured shoulder.
“This football team deserves touchdowns the way the defense has played the last two weeks,” Osweiler said. “This whole organization deserves better. I’m going to find ways to get the ball in the end zone because I need to do better.”