Game notes: Randall Cobb comes up clutch in the red zone

Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon carried the load for Packers’ offense in Arizona

Packers WR Randall Cobb

Randall Cobb didn't know when his number was going to be called Thursday night, but the Packers' longtime receiver was darn sure going to be ready for it.

With Davante Adams, Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling all unavailable against an unbeaten Arizona Cardinals team, quarterback Aaron Rodgers turned to his trusted ally inside the red zone and Cobb responded with a pair of second-half touchdowns that proved critical in Green Bay's 24-21 victory at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

The first, which came on a quick out on first-and-goal from the Cardinals' 2-yard line, gave the Packers their first two-score advantage of the game.

The second, four seconds into the fourth quarter, re-established a two-score advantage after Cobb came free in the end zone off a slant on third-and-5 from the Cardinals' 6-yard line.

"I told myself coming into this game, I didn't know what it was going to look like, I didn't know how many opportunities I was going to get, but no excuses," said Cobb, who made his first start of the season. "Go out there and make a play when you get the chance and find a way to come down with it. I just was able to make that play and put us in position."

With Adams and Lazard both on the COVID-19/reserve list and Valdes-Scantling still on injured reserve, Cobb was the only active Green Bay receiver with more than 30 catches and 30 NFL games of experience under his belt.

The rest of the receiving corps included rookie third-round pick Amari Rodgers, Equanimeous St. Brown, practice-squad elevation Juwann Winfree and Malik Taylor, who was activated off the COVID-19/reserve list earlier in the day.

Things didn't get any easier for the Packers, either, after losing starting tight end Robert Tonyan to a knee injury after he brought in a 33-yard pass on a deep crosser with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left in the third quarter.

While AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones sparked a 151-yard day on the ground, the Packers had seven different players catch 22 total passes from Rodgers.

"When you've got the top receiver in the league and the top quarterback in the league, you sometimes can get overshadowed and not have as many opportunities," Cobb said. "But I told the guys, going into this game, I told them last night, 'Make the coaches, when you walk off this field tonight, make the coaches want to get you involved whenever they're calling plays.' I think that some guys stepped up today and showed what they can do when they touch the ball."

With his two TD catches against Arizona, Cobb is now tied with Jones for the team lead with four this season. Re-acquired on the eve of training camp in a trade with the Houston Texans, Cobb is thankful to be part of Green Bay's 7-1 start to the 2021 campaign.

"I think it's been a year close to the date of when the Packers played the Texans, and I was on the other side. It's just crazy," said Cobb, referring to Green Bay's 35-20 road win over Houston on Oct. 25, 2020.

"I'm so grateful to be here, to be a part of this team. It's a special group of guys. I'm just so grateful for this opportunity. I'm grateful to wear the G and represent Packer Nation."

Jones and Dillon shoulder the load: The Packers were down their top three receivers and were forced to finish the game without their top pass-catching tight end.

But what Green Bay did have was its top two running backs.

As it has all season, the tandem of Jones and Dillon again rose to the occasion in producing 188 total yards and a touchdown on 38 touches to pace Green Bay's offense.

"I definitely think it was important for our game plan," said Dillon of the team's success on the ground. "But in that running back room, talking with Coach (Ben) Sirmans and all the guys in that room, we were preparing to be the spark if the offense needed us. It was good to be able to get out there and get the chains moving."

Dillon led the Packers with 78 rushing yards on 16 carries, with the bulk of that production coming after contact. Meanwhile, Jones scored Green Bay's first touchdown in the first quarter and doubled as the team's leading receiver with seven catches for 51 yards.

"Their skill sets are so unique, both of them," Cobb said. "AJ to be so big and catch the ball so well out of the backfield, Aaron being able to line up at receiver.

"They give us the flexibility to do a lot of different things. Their game, I think it speaks for itself. They put us on their back tonight and carried us the way we needed to be carried today."

Calls with confidence: With defensive coordinator Joe Barry not traveling with the team due to COVID-19 protocols, defensive backs coach Jerry Gray and inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti worked in tandem to get play calls into the defense.

The two oversaw a defense that forced multiple turnovers and held the Cardinals to just 98 total yards in the first half, allowing the Packers to seize an early advantage.

"Coach Gray is a great coach," safety Adrian Amos said. "Everybody had the utmost confidence in him calling the plays. It wasn't a flinch or anything like that. That's a great win for him."

The Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals faced off on Thursday Night Football on Oct. 28, 2021.

More on the takeaways: Cornerback Rasul Douglas' game-ending interception drew most of Thursday's headlines, but punter Corey Bojorquez, linebacker Ty Summers and safety Henry Black contributed on takeaways of their own.

With a little less than seven minutes left in the first half, Bojorquez booted a 48-yard punt that Cardinals returner Rondale Moore attempted to fair catch inside Arizona's 10-yard line. His fingers wound up making contact with the ball, allowing Summers to jump on it.

The call on the field was a downed punt at first, but it was later overturned to a muffed punted after Head Coach Matt LaFleur challenged. The Packers parlayed the takeaway into three points off a Mason Crosby 21-yard field goal.

"Our special teams, they did a great job," LaFleur said. "(Coordinator) Mo (Drayton) talked about it this morning, said, hey, whoever makes a play on special teams, that's going to be the difference in the game. You could argue that was, with Ty Summers recovering that muffed punt, and we got three points out of it."

Black grabbed his first NFL interception off Murray on the third play of the second half and returned it to the Cardinals' 14-yard line, which led to the first of Cobb's two touchdown catches.

Short turnaround, long weekend: The Packers ride a seven-game winning streak into the closest thing they have to a break until the team's Week 13 bye.

And the locker room plans to take full advantage of it.

"I'm looking forward to being able to relax," Dillon said. "Heal up the bumps and bruises, just mentally recharge. We're halfway-ish through the season now. So, it's nice to kind of take a breath and obviously it's nice to have that long weekend with a win."

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