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Game notes: Aaron Jones' two TDs offer Packers' offense a lift

De’Vondre Campbell’s pick-six gives a boost; Zach Tom steps up in spot start

Packers RB Aaron Jones
Packers RB Aaron Jones

LANDOVER, Md. – The Packers' offense was again at its best when the ball was in Aaron Jones' hands on Sunday.

The Pro Bowl running back posted 76 yards on 17 touches and was responsible for both of Green Bay's offensive touchdowns during Sunday's 23-21 loss to the Washington Commanders.

The Packers made it an emphasis to get the ball in Jones' hands out of the gates, including four straight touches on the first offensive possession.

It was on the second series, though, where Green Bay found the end zone behind its primary playmaker, as Jones knifed his way to a 3-yard TD off a slip screen to put the Packers ahead 7-0.

Jones' eight first-quarter touches were his most through the first 15 minutes since the Packers traveled to San Francisco in Week 3 of last season.

"He's an animal. That's my guy," tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "He goes out there and lays it on the line every single day."

Washington centered its defensive efforts on Jones, while also pressuring quarterback Aaron Rodgers with four-man rushes.

Whether it was the extra attention Washington devoted to the running game or Green Bay's own inefficiency, the Packers fell into a funk after that series and were forced to punt on four straight possessions.

Trailing 20-14, the Packers mounted an eight-play, 48-yard drive to start the fourth quarter but turned the ball over on downs at the Washington 37.

After the Commanders tacked on three more points off a field goal, Jones kept the Packers alive when he extended a flat route into a wheel route up the sideline for a 21-yard touchdown that got Green Bay within two points with 3:33 remaining.

It was Jones' ninth and final reception, his most in a regular-season game.

"We've done that quite a few times. It's kind of getting familiar," said Jones of the play. "I'm running a flat and I see him rolling out and I turn it up because I know the defender is coming inside out, and they think I'm going to flat so they're going to keep running to the flat and then they're trailing me."

Overall, it was a frustrating afternoon for the Packers, who went 0-for-6 on third downs and finished with just 232 total yards (38 rushing, 194 passing).

Green Bay also lost top receiver Allen Lazard to a shoulder injury, another hit for an offense already playing without left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee), and receivers Randall Cobb (ankle) and Christian Watson (hamstring).

"Just gotta get consistent execution," Jones said. "We show it here. We show it there. We just don't put it all together. It may be one mental error on a play and then the next play another person has another error. All 11 have to be locked in together."

Tom's time: Rookie fourth-round pick Zach Tom was told to be ready to play when he arrived at the stadium Sunday.

Bakhtiari, who had the designation of questionable added to his game status on Saturday, performed a pregame workout with trainers before being ruled out 90 minutes before gametime.

The Packers had plans for shuffling the offensive line going into the game, with Elgton Jenkins moving to left guard, Jon Runyan to right guard and Yosh Nijman at right tackle. To keep that continuity, Tom was plugged in at Bakhtiari's post at left tackle and the rookie held his own.

Rodgers wasn't sacked and only hit one time.

"It felt good to be back, honestly, but there's some things I need to get better at like always," said Tom, whose only other playing time came at left guard in place of an injured Runyan in Week 1. "I did it in college so it wasn't completely new to me."

Tom credited Jenkins and veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis for helping him settle in.

"That was big, him being there," said Tom of Jenkins. "Obviously, he knows the offense really well. Him being next to me with Marcedes, to get me on the same page, that was huge. A big credit to him for that."

Pick-six for Campbell: Linebacker De'Vondre Campbell collected his first career pick-six when he intercepted a Taylor Heinicke pass and returned it 63 yards for a touchdown.

Linebacker Rashan Gary came off the edge to apply pressure on Heinicke, who flared a pass out for J.D. McKissic in the flat. Campbell undercut the ball and took it down the sideline for the score, putting Green Bay ahead 14-3 at the time.

It was a big moment for Green Bay's defense, which had only one interception in its first six games of the season. Campbell finished with 12 tackles (three for a loss) and the INT.

"That was huge, great play," defensive lineman Kenny Clark said. "R.G. did a great job at getting to the quarterback and getting to the quarterback's hand. He made a bad throw and DC was all over the pick-six. He just made a great play."

See scenes from the Sunday afternoon matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Washington Commanders at FedExField on Oct. 23, 2022.

Matching McLaurin: For the second straight week, Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry chose to match All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander against the opposition's top receiver.

In this case, it had Alexander traveling with Terry McLaurin, who had just one catch for six yards in the first half. Even when McLaurin scored on a 37-yard TD pass from Heinicke in the third quarter, Alexander was tight in coverage.

"He's a really good receiver and that's why they put me on him," Alexander said. "He made the catches when it mattered is what I should say. I covered him maybe minimum of 30 snaps and he caught maybe four passes, so hats off to 'em because he played a good game, but if we played again tomorrow, I'd be on top. That's how I feel."


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