Aaron Jones bounces back to lift Packers' offense in second half

RB Aaron Jones
RB Aaron Jones

MINNEAPOLIS – When the chips were down and the Packers needed a big play to be made Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings, they once again turned to Aaron Jones.

And the third-year running back didn't disappoint.

After shaking off an early fumble, Jones inched closer to his first 1,000-yard rushing season with 23 carries for 154 yards and two touchdowns to power Green Bay to a 23-10 victory over the Vikings and the team's first NFC North title in three years.

Jones rushed for 109 yards on 13 carries in the second half alone, breaking a 12-yard touchdown run with 2:03 left in the third quarter to give the Packers their first lead of the evening before finding room up the sideline on a season-long 56-yard touchdown with 5:51 remaining.

It was Jones' second 100-yard performance in three games and fourth overall of the season. With 16 rushing yards next week against Detroit, Jones will become the Packers' first 1,000-yard rusher since Eddie Lacy in 2014.

"He's amazing, man. I think he's the best back in the league right now," said guard Billy Turner of Jones. "He's a special dude. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He can take the handoff, run north and south (and) make people miss, and he's probably the best red-zone threat right now in the NFL."

Despite playing inside a deafening U.S. Bank Stadium, the Packers moved the ball effectively from beginning to end. The biggest issue was the offense's three turnovers in the first half, which included Jones' fumble on the opening series of the game. 

Jones stayed the course after the miscue, finishing the first half with a modest 10 carries for 45 yards. With Green Bay's adversity defense holding the Vikings to only 10 points off turnovers, the Packers came out of halftime down by only a point.

After punting on its first possession of the third quarter, Green Bay's offense began feeding its one-two backfield punch of Jones and Jamaal Williams. And when Williams left with a shoulder injury in the third quarter, Jones had no problem whatsoever serving as the bell-cow.

Jones' 12-yard touchdown in the third quarter was just the beginning. In the fourth, he effectively weaved his way outside into the left flat and followed a Marquez Valdes-Scantling block to his league-leading 16th rushing touchdown of the year.

"The third quarter on, we had a certain mentality and we were going to run the football," right tackle Bryan Bulaga said. "And we needed to run the football. We needed to help our defense out, stay on the field and get them rest. It worked."

The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings faced off in a Week 16 matchup on Monday Night Football.