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Key to the game: Aaron Jones honors father's memory with another Dallas showcase

Packers running back runs for 118 yards, three TDs in win over Cowboys

RB Aaron Jones
RB Aaron Jones

ARLINGTON, Texas – The emotions were understandably high as Aaron Jones returned to his home state on Sunday, but the Packers running back once again looked right at home inside AT&T Stadium.

Playing in front of many family and close friends, the El Paso native put together a performance for the ages in rushing for 118 yards and three touchdowns to help lift seventh-seed Green Bay to an unexpectedly dominant 48-32 victory over the No. 2 Dallas Cowboys in an NFC Wild Card matchup.

It was Jones' fourth consecutive game with at least 100 rushing yards and his second game with at least three-plus scrimmage touchdowns against his childhood team. Although Jones scored four TDs in his last visit to Dallas in 2019, this trip back held deeper meaning for the 29-year-old running back.

Much of that had to do with his late father Alvin Jones Sr., who passed away in 2021 after complications from COVID-19, and a pregame meeting with Jones' childhood idol, Emmitt Smith.

"This was my dad's team," Jones said. "This was my team growing up. You always want to be like your father, so that's how it became my team. Emmitt Smith was my favorite running back. My first jersey was a '22.' I got the chance to speak to him before the game, so that was special to me as well."

AT&T Stadium has been a home away from home for Jones since he entered the NFL. He fashioned his first career 100-yard game there as a rookie in 2017, recording 125 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Two years later, Jones powered Green Bay to another victory with 107 yards and four touchdowns.

With his father on his mind, Jones ran with purpose in Green Bay's biggest game of the season. Jones touched the ball seven times on the Packers' opening 12-play, 75-yard drive that ended with the seventh-year running back pounding in a 3-yard touchdown to put his team ahead. Afterwards, Jones threw a dart to his twin brother, Alvin Jr., seated in that same end zone.

Jones seemingly had a hand in every Packers scoring drive. After Jaire Alexander intercepted Dak Prescott at the end of the first quarter, Jones caught a 13-yard screen from quarterback Jordan Love and then powered his way into the end zone on a short-yardage run to put Green Bay up 14-0 less than a minute into the second quarter.

In the second half, Jones ran four times for 29 yards on a five-play, 75-yard drive that ended with his third TD to extend the Packers' lead to 34-10. After Dallas matched the score with a methodical 11-play, 88-yard drive, Jones broke a 27-yard gain to setup Love's 38-yard TD pass to tight end Luke Musgrave.

Jones tacked on a 19-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter to eclipse 100 yards and spark the Packers' final scoring drive of the evening. As a team, Green Bay finished with 143 yards and Jones' three TDs on 33 carries.

"We knew that they've got a really good pass-rushing unit and we wanted to keep them away from that as much as possible," right guard Jon Runyan said. "And we knew that they weren't going to want to get involved in the run game. And that was our game plan. I think we ran the ball all over them kind of at will. We stuck with the game plan, and it lasted all four quarters."

Check out photos from the NFC Wild Card playoff matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024.