GREEN BAY, Wis. – Christian Watson on Thursday became the 19th rookie in NFL history with back-to-back games of at least two touchdown receptions.
Among the others: Randy Moss, Odell Beckham, Larry Fitzgerald and Don Hutson.
Now that’s some elite company.
Watson scored three touchdowns during the victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday and two more during the loss to the Tennessee Titans on Thursday. That’s five touchdowns in two games, a feat matched in league history by Atlanta’s Calvin Ridley in 2018, the Giants’ Beckham in 2014, Steelers tight end Eric Green in 1990, the Bengals’ Isaac Curtis in 1973 and the Raiders’ Raymond Chester in 1970, according to Stathead. Only the legendary Moss, who scored six touchdowns on the strength of back-to-back three-touchdown games with the Vikings in 1998. had a more robust two-game stretch.
“Obviously, I want to be able to contribute as much as I can (and) make plays when my number is called,” Watson said of joining McGee as the only Packers rookies with five touchdown receptions in two games. “At the end of the day, none of that matters if we’re not winning football games. Obviously, I’ve got to continue to do better and we’ve got to continue to do better. The only stat we care about is a ‘W’ at the end of the day. Everything else is secondary to that.”
Based on our research, Watson’s five touchdown receptions in five days appears to be an NFL record for a rookie.
It’s been a remarkable turn of events. Watson missed the start of training camp following offseason knee surgery and dropped a touchdown pass on his first NFL snap at Minnesota in Week 1. He suffered a hamstring injury in Week 2, missed Week 3, played limited snaps in Week 4, aggravated the injury in Week 5 and missed Weeks 6 and 7. His return for Week 8 at Buffalo ended after six snaps due to a concussion. A week later, Watson absorbed a jarring hit at the start of the second half at Detroit and was pulled for the remainder of that game.
Thus, through the first nine games of the season, Watson had only 10 catches. With limited opportunities because of the injuries, Watson’s rookie season was in danger of being a bust. Two drops to open the Dallas game set the stage for a stunning turnaround. A 58-yard touchdown bomb not only turned around that game but turned around Watson’s season.
Even with so much missed playing time, Watson is No. 1 in the draft class with five touchdown receptions.
When general manager Brian Gutekunst gave up two draft picks to move up to No. 34 overall, the hope was Watson would become a difference-maker. In a span of just five days, that’s what Watson has become.
“I think you’ve seen a lot of growth. I can tell in how he carries himself, just more confidence,” coach Matt LaFleur said on Friday.
As Watson’s confidence has grown, so has Aaron Rodgers’ confidence in the rookie with the freakish skill-set. Rodgers is renowned for his reluctant approach with rookies. However, when asked after Thursday’s game if Watson needs more opportunities, Rodgers delivered a clear answer.
“The answer is yes,” he said. “I think we’ve got to get the ball to our playmakers and he’s stepped up the last two games, the last five days. The over-the-shoulder catch opened up a whole new world of confidence for him. We caught them with too many on the field and I gave him a trust ball. Threw it up in the back of the end zone and he came down with it.
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence. If you look at the week of practice prior to last Sunday, he had many drops really throughout practices for the season. The last few days, no drops. He caught everything today. Yes, we’ve got to give him the ball more.”