GREEN BAY – As the thunder to Aaron Jones' lightning, AJ Dillon understood there was going to come a time this season when the Packers were going to be counting on him.
On Sunday, the former second-round pick was more than ready for his moment when called upon against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Working in tandem with Jones, Dillon bullied his way through the Steelers' defensive front en route to a game-high 81 rushing yards that proved pivotal in Green Bay's 27-17 victory in front of 78,281 at Lambeau Field.
Dillon and Jones combined for 34 touches for 196 total yards, which contributed to the Packers controlling the clock (34:41-25:19) and staying in manageable third-down situations.
"Anytime you can run the ball successfully and keep the chains moving, grind out those first yards, you put the offense in a great position to be successful, keep scoring," Dillon said. "The running back room, that's what we're always aspiring to do."
Dillon had an eye-opening performance last December against Tennessee when he rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, but he hadn't carried the ball more than six times since that game.
After a few nice runs early on against Pittsburgh, Dillon showed what he was capable of in helping Green Bay pull away from Pittsburgh in the second half.
His biggest play came on second-and-7 with 5 minutes, 40 seconds left in the third quarter from the Pittsburgh 26. After Amari Rodgers came on a pre-snap jet motion, Dillon took a handoff from MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers and cleared the gap for a 25-yard run to the Steelers' 1-yard line.
On the next play, nearly every Pittsburgh defender bit on Rodgers' fake handoff to Dillon. It cleared the right side of the field for Rodgers to carry out the play-action and hit Randall Cobb for a touchdown to give Green Bay its first three-score lead in the game, 27-10.
"I got skinny through a hole and, once I got through that first seam, there really wasn't anybody until those DBs got me," said Dillon of his run. "That was awesome. Really happy to score on the next play and get Cobby in there."
In the fourth quarter, with the Packers in their four-minute offense, Dillon picked up 20 yards on four straight carries to eat nearly three minutes off the clock.
Green Bay knew what it was getting in terms of a powerful ball carrier when it drafted Dillon out of Boston College last year, but what has impressed Rodgers the most is the strides the 6-foot, 247-pound running back has taken in all facets of his game, whether it be assignments, protections or routes.
"Smart kid, really smart kid, and that's what I love about him," Rodgers said. "He is really taking that step and becoming a three-down back.
"I'm really proud of that kind of jump that he's made in the past year. Running the ball, he's a bowling ball. He's got a lot of weight behind the ball and did a nice job running the football."
Lambeau Field hosted a Week 4 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021.
Campbell's impact: The Packers' signing of De'Vondre Campbell near the end of the offseason program in June continues to look better and better by the week.
With Krys Barnes (concussion) inactive against Pittsburgh, Campbell again made his presence felt against the Steelers, racking up a team-high nine tackles with a quarterback hit and a pass defensed.
Among Campbell's key tackles was his open-field takedown of receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster on fourth-and-5 that forced a turnover on downs early in the fourth quarter.
"Speed, leadership and confidence," said linebacker Rashan Gary when asked what Campbell has added to Green Bay's defense.
"That's a guy who walked in the building, studied his butt off, got the plays and started making the plays right away. … Just me playing with him, it's like, 'Oh, we getting 15 tackles here? Oh, we filling up the gap? Oh yeah, I love playing with this guy.' He's bringing the juice, flying around and making us a better defense."
Record breaker: Mason Crosby broke his own franchise record on Sunday.
With a pair of made field goals from 26 and 29 yards, the Packers' all-time leading scorer has now made 24 consecutive field goals in the regular season, dating back to 2019. It breaks his previous record of 23 that extended from 2010 into the 2011 campaign.
Bojorquez blast: The Packers traded for Corey Bojorquez at the start of the regular season because they felt like his left leg could make a huge difference for their special-teams unit.
That was definitely the case against the Steelers. While he only punted three times, Bojorquez buried Pittsburgh inside its own 4-yard line in the first quarter and blasted a 57-yard punt from his end zone that Ray-Ray McCloud had to fair catch.
"I think I'm doing alright," said Bojorquez on Friday. "I think there's a lot of room for improvement for me and I'm always gonna think that. I think I started off pretty well but there's definitely a lot more that I can do to help this team."