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Jake Kumerow's clutch catch keys game-altering drive for Packers

Tyler Ervin continues to pay dividends for Green Bay’s return units

Packers WR Jake Kumerow
Packers WR Jake Kumerow

GREEN BAY – Clinging to a four-point lead, the Packers largely put Sunday's game in the hands of Davante Adams and Aaron Jones coming out of halftime.

The Pro Bowl receiver and blossoming running back were targeted on eight of the first 10 offensive plays in the third quarter and combined for 73 total yards on back-to-back drives that produced pivotal touchdowns in Green Bay's eventual 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears.

In the midst of the Adams and Jones show, however, came the longest play of the afternoon when reserve receiver Jake Kumerow hauled in a sideline pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to not only convert on third-and-4, but also turn and run upfield for a 49-yard pickup.

Chicago head coach Matt Nagy unsuccessfully challenged whether Kumerow stepped out of bounds before making the catch, but the ruling was confirmed upon review. After a quick out to Adams for nine yards on the next play, Jones punched in the 2-yard touchdown run to give the Packers a 21-3 advantage that was enough for the team's 11th win of the season.

"It gave us a big spark," said Jones of Kumerow's catch. "I wouldn't say we were stalling but when you get a 49-yard play, it's going to get everybody excited. Like, 'Hey, there's no excuse. We have to score. He just made this big play. Let's go.' It's definitely a big-splash, explosive play for us. We need those."

Kumerow, who went three games without a catch entering Sunday's meeting with Chicago, has been part of a platoon with fellow receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Geronimo Allison and Allen Lazard in the starting offense.

Given an opportunity at the start of the second half, Kumerow was in the right place at the right time to spark the Packers' offense. It tied his previous career-long catch of 49 yards, which he also had on a touchdown last December against the New York Jets.

Kumerow said he didn't know at first whether his foot slipped out of bounds but he was "hoping" he was in.

"I was trying to make sure that I did my assignment, which was get outside of my corner and stretch the field," Kumerow said. "I turned back and you never know when 12's back there if the ball's coming to you or not, so you've got to always be ready, and I turned around and the ball was right on its way. Luckily it was short enough where I could make an inside move on the safety and get upfield."

Beyond Adams and Jones, the Packers have used a by-committee approach with their skill-position players for most of the season. For example, two weeks ago against the New York Giants, it was Lazard catching three passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.

On Sunday, it was Kumerow's turn to make a play.

"We have a lot of playmakers on this team and to get everybody a shot at getting the ball in their hands and making somebody miss is big for us," Kumerow said. "Aaron and Davante, they do a tremendous job of making plays for us and moving the ball, but you can't leave it up to only those two guys. So some guys have to step up and sometimes you never know who that's going to be. I didn't expect the ball on that play, but I was ready for it, and you never know."

Lambeau Field hosted a Week 15 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, the 200th in the rivalry.

Feeding Davante: Along with his fourth 100-yard performance of the season, Adams also picked up his fourth touchdown in as many games when Rodgers hit the Pro Bowl receiver in stride on a 29-yard score to get Green Bay on the board in the first quarter.

Adams, lined up in the slot, got a step on Bears nickel cornerback Buster Skrine for the score. With seven catches for 103 yards on Sunday, Adams now has 38 receptions for 410 yards since returning from his turf toe injury against the Los Angeles Chargers last month.

"I basically had a situation where my quarterback and my coach trust me to go out and make a play one-on-one," Adams said. "Got the coverage that we wanted, so I just had to beat him. Got a pretty good step off the line so he put a perfect ball right over the top of his head."

Early returns: One week after sparking the Packers' punt return unit, Tyler Ervin produced the Packers' longest kickoff return in more than four years late in the first half against the Bears.

Returning from his own 1-yard line, the fourth-year veteran found an opening across the field on a 45-yard return that marked Green Bay's longest since Jeff Janis' 70-yard kickoff return against Minnesota on Nov. 22, 2015.

"I'm just out there playing with my instincts," said Ervin, who also had a punt return for 12 yards. "The guys did a great job blocking up front. I saw a crease on the left and I took it. Luckily, we were able to get some good yards on it."

Making history: Jones continues to etch his name into the Packers' record book with another two-TD performance, which moved him past Paul Hornung for fourth-most rushing touchdowns (14) in a season in team history.

With 17 total touchdowns this year, Jones is also tied with receiver Don Hutson (1942) for fourth-most in a season behind Sterling Sharpe, Jim Taylor and Ahman Green. It was Jones' fourth game this season with multiple rushing TDs, the most by a Packer since Green had four in 2003 and tied for the second most in a season in club history behind only Taylor (five, 1962).

"It means a lot," Jones said. "Some of the greats to play the game; not only play the game but to play here in Green Bay. That's an honor to be up there on that list with those names. You see the kind of careers they've had … it just means a lot to be up there with those huge names."

A first for everything: Rushing from the interior on second-and-4, Za'Darius Smith had no idea what had happened behind him as the Packers' outside linebacker plowed into Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with 6:40 remaining.

All he heard was the roar of 78,266 at Lambeau Field.

Once Smith turned around, he saw 6-foot-6, 296-pound defensive lineman Dean Lowry returning his first career interception. Lowry bobbled the ball at first but eventually corralled it and returned it seven yards to the Bears' 33-yard line.

"He threw it right in my hands," Lowry said. "I kind of dropped it for a second and regained it. I didn't get that far on the return. He tackled me pretty quickly but it was a great play. We talk all the time about the ball and how much that means to winning games with the turnover margin. It was a huge play in the game."

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