GREEN BAY – Aaron Jones’ mind was set on winning, but there was a small part of the Packers’ second-year running back that also recognized the added meaning behind his 10-yard touchdown in the third quarter on Sunday.
Yes, the score helped Green Bay put an exclamation point on a 31-12 victory over the Miami Dolphins in front of 78,076 at Lambeau Field, but it also capped the first two-touchdown game of Jones’ young NFL career.
After running back to the sideline and sharing that news with his position coach, Ben Sirmans, Jones knew exactly what he wanted to do with the two footballs – give them to his parents, Alvin Sr. and Vurgess, who served a combined 56 years in the Army before retiring to follow their son’s college and professional career.
The two, who haven’t missed a game since the Packers drafted Aaron in the fifth round last year, were in attendance Sunday to watch their son’s career night, which saw Jones rush for a professional-best 145 yards on 15 carries (9.7 yards per attempt).
“I didn’t tell anybody, but I made this game for my parents,” said Jones, who is this year’s “Salute to Service” nominee for the Packers. “Today being the ‘Salute to Service’ game, I got two game balls to go give both of them. So it’s a blessing it all worked out.”
Playing in front of his parents and eight other family members, Jones responded the way the Packers hoped he would after suffering his first career fumble in the fourth quarter of last week’s 31-17 loss in New England.
After vowing to learn from the mistake and bounce back in a big way, Jones and Green Bay’s offensive line were in sync from the start against the Dolphins.
Jones touched the ball four times for 54 yards to key Green Bay’s first scoring drive. He then busted a career-long 67-yard run through the middle on the first play of the Packers’ next possession. After Jones was brought down at the Miami 4, Green Bay proceeded to pound the ball two more times with the 5-foot-9, 208-pound running back to get into the end zone.
By halftime, Jones already notched the Packers’ first 100-yard rushing performance of the season (eight carries for 101 yards) to power a 193-yard day on the ground for Green Bay’s offense.
“I was telling him this past week, I think he made up for the fumble,” right guard Byron Bell said. “That’s the pulse of the NFL. One week, it don’t go our way but come out swinging and got 100-plus yards. Hell of a deal by him.”
The second half was more of the same with Jones coming up big at critical points for the Packers’ offense. When the Dolphins cut Green Bay’s lead to 14-12 with Jason Sanders’ 40-yard field goal at the start of the third quarter, Aaron Rodgers hit a wide-open Mercedes Lewis for a 30-yard completion to the Miami 22.
Jones took it from there, breaking off a 12-yard run and then getting back in the end zone with his 10-yard touchdown that put the Packers back ahead with a two-score lead from which they wouldn’t look back.
In seven games, Jones has rushed for 494 yards and four touchdowns on 73 carries. His 6.8 yards per carry this season leads Cleveland’s Nick Chubb (6.2) for tops in the NFL among qualifying running backs.
“I think the numbers speak for themselves,” receiver Davante Adams said of Jones. “He’s a very dynamic player. I’d like to say I was one of the first to call that this was going to happen, like (within) maybe two weeks when he first got here, I saw something in the way he runs the ball. He don’t mess around. He gets up on people, and everything is full speed. I think he just plays too fast for everybody.”
Jones credits the offensive line for helping pave the way to his career day, which also included three catches out of the backfield for 27 yards.
As the Packers look to find consistency and balance on offense, Sunday’s performance gave Green Bay plenty of room for optimism heading into Seattle on Thursday night.
“He’s a slashing running back,” left tackle David Bakhtiari said. “His ability to see the hole and hit it at full speed and to cut pretty much at full speed is what makes him special. Anytime you have playmakers like that, you always want to make sure to give ’em as many touches as possible because they can always make magic happen.”
Lambeau Field hosted a Week 10 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Miami Dolphins