GREEN BAY – It wasn't a nice day, and it wasn't a particularly satisfying win.
But it was a victory for the Packers, 24-20 over the Jaguars on a rainy and windy Sunday, thanks to some clutch fourth-quarter moments.
A touchdown drive and two defensive stops down the stretch helped Green Bay overcome several damaging mistakes that almost allowed a one-win Jacksonville team to steal a game at Lambeau Field.
"You've got to earn everything you get," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said, shortly after Green Bay just barely improved to 7-2 to stay in sole possession of first place in the NFC North.
"People aren't going to just lay down. You've got to come ready to work each and every day in order to get the results that you want."
The Jaguars (1-8) lost their eighth straight game but were in this one with rookie backup quarterback Jake Luton primarily due to three momentum-changing plays.
- A 91-yard punt return for a touchdown by Keelan Cole Sr. early in the second quarter.
- A fumble by Packers receiver Davante Adams that set up a TD pass to Cole early in the third quarter.
- And an interception by Aaron Rodgers that led to a go-ahead field goal early in the fourth quarter.
All that put the Jaguars up 20-17 and in position for the upset with 12:40 left.
"We played uncharacteristic in a few areas," Rodgers said.
Amongst the negative events, the Packers had gotten a 78-yard touchdown pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, a TD run by Rodgers to complete an 81-yard drive, and an interception by safety Adrian Amos leading to a field goal right before halftime.
But the Jaguars were clamping down against the run and the conditions made it a "guessing game at times," according to Rodgers, how to deal with the wind on his way to 325 passing yards (24-of-34, two TDs, one INT, 108.1 rating).
The weather was the same for the Jaguars, but their special-teams TD and 10 points off turnovers had the Packers in a bad spot, needing to find something on offense before it was too late.
"It kind of felt out of sync all game, to be honest with you," LaFleur said.
Fortunately, a Jacksonville defender slipped on third-and-9 with 12 minutes left, leaving tight end Robert Tonyan wide open for a 23-yard completion, and the Packers took advantage from there.
A 7-yard reception by running back Aaron Jones preceded a 20-yard run by Jones, his longest of the day (13 carries, 46 yards). An 18-yard receiver screen to Valdes-Scantling was then followed by a 6-yard TD toss to Adams off play-action with 9:03 left.
The Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars faced off in a Week 10 matchup at Lambeau Field on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020.
The sequence was significant, and not just because it gave the Packers the lead.
Adams (eight catches, 66 yards) had rebounded from not only the earlier fumble but also an ankle injury that forced him to exit briefly before toughing it out to produce his team-leading ninth TD of the season.
"17's built different. He always has been," Rodgers said. "And for him to get back out there, I asked him a couple of times, 'Are you OK? You good?' And he just nodded that he was.
"It's just another chapter for him today dealing with what he was dealing with to come back out there and catch a touchdown. That's what you want from your leaders."
The preceding play to Valdes-Scantling, meanwhile, capped his career-best 149-yard day on just four catches, and it was the three aside from the long TD bomb that Rodgers appreciated most.
In the second quarter, Valdes-Scantling found an opening for a scrambling Rodgers to hit him for 22 yards on third-and-6. That conversion led to a touchdown.
In the second half, he also took a play-action bootleg pass up the sideline for 31 yards, and the aforementioned 18-yard gain on the receiver screen came as the hot read against a slot blitz.
"It starts with the deep threat, but we need to keep finding ways to get him other routes," Rodgers said of Valdes-Scantling, who has turned in big moments the last two games while the Packers wait for Allen Lazard to return from injury. "I think the growth we're going to see from him is where he becomes more than just a one-dimensional guy."
Adams' go-ahead score didn't close the door on the Jaguars, however. Behind Luton (18-of-35, 169 yards, one TD, one INT, 62.7 rating), Jacksonville drove from its own 7 to midfield before three straight incomplete passes led to a punt.
The Packers couldn't convert on third-and-1 with 2½ minutes left, though, and the Jaguars got one more shot, reaching the Green Bay 36-yard line.
The Packers had survived.
"We're fortunate and we'll take the win," LaFleur said. "But we've got to improve."