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Packers find rhythm behind Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon

Running backs rush for 197 yards vs. NFL’s top-ranked run defense

RB Aaron Jones
RB Aaron Jones

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Staring down the NFL's top-ranked run defense in Buffalo, Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon and the Packers' offensive line didn't shy away from the challenge on Sunday night.

Down three receivers after Christian Watson left early with a concussion, a Packers' offense in flux had its share of ups and downs during a 27-17 loss to the Bills at Highmark Stadium but found rhythm behind its backfield tandem.

Jones posted a season-high 143 rushing yards on 20 carries, while Dillon added another 54 on his 10 runs. Their 197 combined rushing yards were the most the Packers have produced on 31 or fewer carries since their 226 rushing yards on 23 rushing attempts against the Chicago Bears on Dec. 18, 2016.

It came against a top-ranked Buffalo run defense that had been allowing just 76.2 yards per game this season.

"The guys up front and the whole blocking unit did a great job," Jones said. "I knew at some point we were going to have to run the ball and I think we established that pretty early and leaned on it. I feel like we did a great job in the run game. We just gotta keep going, keep digging."

The Packers' offense got back All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari but was without Pro Bowl left guard Elgton Jenkins, who was ruled out after a foot issue was added to the injury report on Friday.

Despite rookie Zach Tom making his first career start at left guard, the Packers' offensive line stayed in sync and had success running both outside and inside against the Bills.

Although the passing game struggled early on, Jones and Dillon got the offense pointed in the right direction when they combined for 54 rushing yards to spark the Packers' first scoring drive in the second quarter.

Following back-to-back runs by Jones for 22 total yards, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was able to find rookie receiver Romeo Doubs in the back of the end zone on a 19-yard touchdown.

"We said we wanted to be a spark for the team, and we feel like we can provide that," said Jones of his and Dillon's production on the ground. "Even if it's not a long run. If we run somebody over for a 2-yard gain, the guys on the sidelines see that and they get amped up."

Jones and Dillon also combined for 68 yards on Green Bay's 8-play, 72-yard drive to start the second half, which culminated in a 38-yard Mason Crosby field goal.

The Packers threatened early in the fourth quarter, too, but turned the ball over on downs when Jones was stopped on a fourth-and-1 run at the Buffalo 26.

At that point, however, Rodgers and the team's young receivers got into a better rhythm. Trailing 27-10 midway through the fourth quarter, Doubs high-pointed a pass from Rodgers for 26 yards before rookie seventh-round pick Samori Toure found space in the middle of the field for a 37-yard touchdown.

"We just needed some kind of shot. It didn't matter if it was run, pass, whatever," Jones said. "We just needed a shot and I feel like we looked a lot better this week and we'll continue to grow. I think those young guys did a great job of stepping up in there. I feel like they're getting it down."

See scenes from the Sunday night matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on Oct. 30, 2022.

While there are no moral victories, the Packers' production on the ground was noteworthy in that it was the most rushing yards the Bills had conceded in a game this season.

Prior to Sunday, Buffalo had allowed just one 100-yard rushing game. It came Week 4 against Baltimore, with quarterback Lamar Jackson contributing 73 of the Ravens' 162 yards.

The Tennessee Titans' 80 rushing yards in Week 2 were the next most successful outing, though it took 27 carries (3.0 yards per attempt) with a long of nine yards. All-Pro Derrick Henry was held to just 25 yards on 13 carries in that contest.

Still, the result was a fourth straight loss – and the end of the team's 30-0 mark when wining the turnover battle under fourth-year head coach Matt LaFleur.

"We know we have everything in the locker room. We just haven't put it together," Jones said. "We got all the talent in this locker room that we need. We just gotta put it together now."


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