DETROIT – Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw the ball all over Ford Field on Sunday – sometimes accurately, sometimes inaccurately. His best throw of the day was the 28-yard bullet to Allen Lazard that tied the game with about 5 minutes to go.
But that wasn’t his best play in helping power a 23-20, come-from-behind victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
That came on first-and-10 from Green Bay’s 49 with 45 seconds remaining. The Packers hadn’t run a screen all day until Rodgers connected with Aaron Jones for a gain of 31 yards to the Lions’ 20.
“When we’re doing our game-planning, screens were not very successful vs. this group because a lot of times they put five guys on the line of scrimmage and they’re dropping those two outside guys,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “So, we didn’t feel great about the screen game. In my career, we had probably the fewest amount of screens going into a game plan. And to Aaron’s credit, he actually called the screen in the two-minute at the end of the game and it was pivotal for us.”
It was Rodgers’ 55th throw of the day.
“We’d thrown the ball so many times and hadn’t run one. I just felt like we were due,” Rodgers said. “They were playing some match coverage. I knew if we had two guys kind of running back to the left, that there was a chance we could get something positive there.”
Rodgers’ instincts were good and Jones’ running instincts were even better.
“A-Rod just came in the huddle and said, ‘Are you boys ready for a screen?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, of course,’” Jones said. “When you know the ball is coming to you, you get excited. And then he was like, ‘Go make a play, kid.’ I was looking at him and said, ‘Yes, sir.’ It was actually a great play by him, because they started to rush and then they just stopped. It was kind of cloudy, and I stopped and found a window, and he got it to me. I don’t even know how he got it to me, because it was just a crowd of people right there. it was just a great play by him. I’m glad he got it to me, and I was able to make a play after that.”
Make a play he did. Jones ran through tackle attempts by safety Miles Killebrew and Tracy Walker to turn a decent gain into a big gain that made it an easy field goal by Mason Crosby to win the game.
Jones had another big day to cap a big regular season. With 25 carries for 100 yards and two catches for 43 yards, Jones finished the season with career highs of 1,084 rushing yards, 49 receptions for 474 , and 1,558 total yards. That’s No. 10 on the franchise’s all-time list.
“It feels great,” Jones said of reaching 1,000 rushing yards. “That was one of my goals coming in, and I achieved that. Sixteen games stayed healthy, I achieved that. So, just continue to knock down these goal on this list and continue to work, and look to be playing late in February.”
What Jones didn’t do was score touchdown No. 20, which would have tied Ahman Green’s single-season record. That should have happened; Rodgers had Jones wide open for an easy touchdown just before halftime but threw the ball too far.
“Hey, 19 is a lot,” Jones said. “More than I ever scored at this level, so I’m blessed, I’m grateful, and thankful.”