GREEN BAY – When the Packers hired Matt LaFleur as head coach earlier this year, prevailing wisdom was blossoming running back Aaron Jones would be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new offensive scheme.
With another 192 total yards of offense on Sunday, Jones continued to prove that assumption to be correct during Sunday's 20-15 win over Washington. Not only did Jones post a season-high 134 rushing yards, but he also led the offense with six catches for 58 yards.
Jones also was responsible for what was arguably the play of the game in the fourth quarter when he hauled in a near-perfect pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers for 25 yards on third-and-14, one of three third downs Jones converted for the Packers' offense.
"We felt like (if) we get to third down and we can keep drives going, we're going to be a dangerous offense," Jones said. "Nine times out of 10 … if you have a good completion percentage on third down, your team is going to be doing well in the league."
Jones put the Packers on the board on their opening possession with a 4-yard touchdown run six minutes into the game. The score gave Jones his 12th rushing touchdown of the season, which is now tied for the fifth most in a season in franchise history, while his 15 total TDs are the sixth most in team annals.
In the second quarter, Jones busted free up the middle out of a three-tight-end package for a 42-yard pickup, marking his longest carry of the season, to finish the first half with seven rushes for 73 yards.
Although the offense fell into a lull after an explosive first quarter, Jones was again at his best late in the game. With Green Bay clinging to a 17-9 lead, he produced 49 of the 74 yards on the 14-play drive that ate more than seven minutes off the clock and extended Green Bay's lead to two scores with a Mason Crosby 33-yard field goal.
The gem of the drive was his 25-yard catch from Rodgers, who was throwing out of his own end zone when the ball left his hand. Falling backwards, Jones looked the ball into his hands for the critical first down.
"As soon as (Rodgers) let go of the ball, I could see where it was going," said Jones, who finished with 16 carries for 134 yards in addition to his six catches. "You get smart. You see the safety and you know he's not throwing it over the top. It was a little hole shot and it was perfect."
Sunday marked the third time this year Jones has eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground. As a team, Jones, fellow running back Jamaal Williams and Rodgers combined for 28 carries for 174 yards (6.2 avg.). When asked what was working for the ground game Sunday, Jones said "everything," before crediting the offensive line for opening holes.
Since Jones went off for seven catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas City on Oct. 27, defenses mainly had been covering Jones with a defensive back when he lines up as a receiver.
Washington, banged-up in the secondary, tried to deploy linebackers against Jones and he took advantage of it. Within the first 13 minutes of the game, Jones had already surpassed the 31 total yards he had last week in New York.
"He's a playmaker," left tackle David Bakhtiari said. "I think in any given week … we've got playmakers in this locker room, quite a few, which one's got the hot hand, which one's feeling the game that week? And then I think from that, you just keep feeding them because you know that they're confident, they're quote-unquote feeling themselves and they're going to make guys miss, they're going to get yardage, and they're going to get touchdowns."
With three games left in the regular season, Jones already has established new career highs in rushing yards (779), rushing touchdowns (12), receptions (45), receiving yards (425), and receiving touchdowns (three).
The 5-foot-9, 208-pound running also has set a new career high with 175 carries and he says he's built for much more. After experiencing just one winning campaign in six combined college and pro seasons prior to 2019, Jones is excited to play meaningful football in December and beyond.
"Man, I was born in December, I'm a Sagittarius," said Jones, laughing. "I've got a lot of juice left."