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Aaron Jones' personal-best day sets tone for Packers' offense

Fourth-year running back racked up 236 total yards, three TDs in Sunday’s win over Detroit

RB Aaron Jones
RB Aaron Jones

GREEN BAY – Years pass, records fall and the legend of Aaron Jones only continues to grow inside the Packers' locker room.

A week after Davante Adams' record-breaking performance in a dominant offensive showing in Minnesota, Jones made some history of his own to help propel the Packers past the Detroit Lions 42-21 on Sunday Lambeau Field.

Jones set single-game career highs in both all-purpose (236) and rushing yards (168) with three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving), including a career-long 75-yard run on the first play of the second half to break open a one-score game.

It was the longest carry at Lambeau Field by a Packers player in 16 years, dating back to Ahman Green's 90-yard run against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 24, 2004.

"A number of things go into it, but I do think I came out and started the season the right way," Jones said. "Just got to continue to work to reach. I still don't feel like I have reached my full potential, so (I'll) continue to work to get there."

Coming off a workmanlike performance against the Vikings (76 total yards, one touchdown), Jones was settling for a lot of 3-, 4- and 5-yard carries in the early going. They were important for the Packers in establishing rhythm, but the 5-foot-9, 208-pound running back was looking for a statement play.

With the Packers trailing 14-3 after the first quarter, veteran Marcedes Lewis encouraged Jones to "stay with it" because he was "going to bust that big one."

Sure enough, the fourth-year pro picked up 22 yards on a pass underneath from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to set up Jones' first touchdown off a 7-yard catch. Afterwards, Jones celebrated with a Lambeau Leap on a tarp in the empty stands.

After the Packers pulled ahead 17-14 at halftime, Jones opened the third quarter with the longest run of his NFL career. Following a block by center Corey Linsley, Jones charged up the middle and made both Lions safeties miss downfield for the 75-yard touchdown, besting his previous career long of 67.

The run extended the Packers' lead to 24-14, a two-score advantage they wouldn't look back from.

"He doesn't need much of a hole," right tackle Rick Wagner said. "He can get through there, and something really special about him is the way he can break arm tackles. In the NFL, you've got to be able to break those arm tackles because the D-linemen are so skilled, you know they're going to be reaching for him. But that really doesn't faze him. He can get to the second level no problem."

The Lions had no answers for Jones and the Packers after that explosive pickup. Jones made a leaping 30-yard grab over Detroit cornerback Darryl Roberts on the Packers' next series and then picked up the blitzing linebacker on a 41-yard pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling at the end of the fourth quarter.

Later that series, Jones found the edge and ran in for a 14-yard TD with 8 minutes, 5 seconds left in the fourth quarter, putting Green Bay up 42-21 and effectively sealing the win.

Jones' big day was key for the Packers' offense, which finished the game without Adams. The three-time Pro Bowl receiver stayed on the bench during most of the second half after sustaining a hamstring injury.

Lambeau Field hosted a Week 2 game between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020.

With Jamaal Williams adding eight carries for 63 yards, the Packers finished Sunday's game with 259 rushing yards on 35 carries (7.4 yards per attempt) and 488 total yards of offense. That yardage total is the most rushing yards by Green Bay in a game since recording 262 yards on 34 carries against Denver on Dec. 28, 2003.

"Our coaches do a great job of making sure that every day when we come into the meeting room and we're out on the practice field, they detail things up for us very well," Jones said. "This is our second year in the offense so we're able to go out there and play comfortable and know how to run certain plays against different looks, more exotic looks."

Jones' 236 yards from scrimmage were the most by a Packers player in nearly 64 years (Billy Howton on Oct. 21, 1956) and the third most in franchise history behind Howton and Don Hutson (237 on Nov. 21, 1943). He's also the first player in franchise history to have two games with more than 225 yards from scrimmage (226 at Kansas City last October).

Despite coming off his first 1,000-yard rushing season in 2019, Jones still felt like he had plenty to prove this year. With four scores in two games, Jones is off to a good start in his hopes of surpassing the 1,554 total yards and 19 TDs he had last season.

"I think it's just the growth in me, and just continuing to work and not being satisfied with anything," Jones said. "You have a good season last year, but you're only as good as last year. So you have to come out and outperform that. There's a lot of ways to better your game and continue to work."

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