GREEN BAY – The name of the game is big plays and takeaways, and the Packers received both from their defense at crucial junctures of Sunday's 24-20 win over Jacksonville.
It started with safety Adrian Amos setting the tone for the defense when he caught his first interception of the season, off Jaguars quarterback Jake Luton, with 1 minute, 40 seconds left in the first half and the Packers leading by four.
Amos returned it 23 yards to Jacksonville's 26-yard line, allowing kicker Mason Crosby to drill a 39-yard field goal before halftime to give the Packers the 17-10 halftime advantage.
"Takeaways are important, to get the offense the ball in plus territory," said Amos, whose INT marked Green Bay's seventh takeaway of 2020. "We just need to find more ways to get after the ball. As for the play, we had to drive on the dig by the tight end. I just drove on it and tried to make a play on the ball."
The Packers' pass rush took it from there, beginning with Za'Darius Smith's team-leading eighth sack of the year when he dropped Luton on third-and-8 to quash Jacksonville's first possession of the second half.
Then, with the game on the line late and the Packers clinging to a 24-20 lead, the defense stopped Jacksonville on back-to-back possessions with outside linebackers Rashan Gary and Preston Smith sacking Luton on consecutive plays inside the final two minutes.
"We had to get the win," Amos said. "We weren't always in situations where we wanted to be. Those are the types of games where the defense has got to show up and make those stops."
Jacksonville running back James Robinson rushed for 109 yards on 23 carries but the Packers' defense only gave up 13 points (the Jaguars' other touchdown coming off a 91-yard TD off a punt return in the second quarter).
While the defense has work to do, it contained Luton to only 169 yards and a 62.5 passer rating despite missing starting cornerbacks Jaire Alexander (concussion) and Kevin King (quadriceps). Second-year cornerback Ka'dar Hollman made his first career start in Alexander's stead.
The defense was also without leading tackler Krys Barnes (reserve/COVID-19 list), though veteran linebacker Christian Kirksey was back in the lineup after a five-game absence.
"To be honest, during the game, you're just trying to get out there and get stops," Amos said. "Get stops, get takeaways, try to get our offense back on the field. We try to play complementary football. We want to give the offense the ball with good opportunities and good field position. We made the plays when we had to today. We've just got to build on this."
The Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars faced off in a Week 10 matchup at Lambeau Field on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020.
More on Adams' score: The Packers were able to use the Jaguars' aggressiveness against them in the fourth quarter when they ran play-action out of bunch formation at Jacksonville's 6-yard line.
Eight Jaguars were sitting in the box when Aaron Rodgers pulled the ball back from Jamaal Williams and flicked it up for Davante Adams, the only receiver who was lined up outside on the play.
"We do a lot of insert blocking where we go in and block the safety, so we're just trying to shut it up where we can get into the things we're going into and block," receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling said. "(We) got everybody to think we were running the ball and just worked out that Davante was able to get open and go out and make that play."
It marked Adams' ninth TD reception of the season and seventh score in the Packers' last four games. With eight catches on Sunday, Adams joined Antonio Freeman (1998-99) as the only receivers in franchise history to have four consecutive games with seven or more catches.
He also moved past Hall of Famer Don Hutson for the fifth-most catches in franchise history (484) and tied WR Greg Jennings for sixth all-time with 53 touchdown catches.
Rodgers' records: With his touchdown passes to Valdes-Scantling and Adams, Rodgers now has 26 TD passes on the season – the second most in team history through nine games behind only his 28 TD passes in 2011.
It is only the second time in NFL history that a QB has thrown 26-plus TD passes with three or fewer INTs in the first nine games of a season, with Rodgers (28/3 in 2011) being the only other instance.
With his 5-yard TD run in the second quarter, Rodgers also matched Tobin Rote's franchise record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (29).