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Packers get back to the ground game

Davante Adams’ two big catches, Preston Smith’s two sacks, Tramon Williams’ INT all provide sparks


GREEN BAY – Coming off last week's disappointing loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, the Packers wanted to get the ball back into the hands of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams.

And with snow falling progressively harder throughout the second half of Sunday's 24-16 win over the Carolina Panthers, Green Bay's one-two backfield punch didn't disappoint.

Jones and Williams combined for 26 carries for 156 yards, while Jones ran in all three of the Packers' touchdowns to become the first Packers running back since Jim Taylor in 1962 to have two separate games with three or more rushing touchdowns in a single season (four touchdowns last month in Dallas).

Much was made heading into the game about Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey, whose strong start has positioned him as one of the favorites for NFL MVP. Jones and Williams tuned out that noise and focused on what they controlled.

"We weren't worried about the guy on the other side. We were just worried about what we had to do," said Jones, who had 13 carries for 93 yards individually. "We knew if we came out and played our game we'd give our team the best chance to win."

One of the Packers' largest regrets in last week's 26-11 loss to the Chargers was the fact Jones and Williams combined for only 78 yards on 17 touches.

This week, the game plan called for a healthy dose of both running backs, and when given the opportunity, they each prospered, particularly in the second half.

Jones scored twice in the first half, but his finest hour came on the first scoring drive of the second half when he broke free for a season-long 28-yard gain moments after quarterback Aaron Rodgers converted on second-and-26 with a 38-yard pass to receiver Davante Adams down the sideline.

Two plays after his long gain, Jones sliced through a large hole in the Carolina defensive front for a 13-yard touchdown run that gave Green Bay its first two-score lead of the afternoon.

The three scores allowed Jones (14 touchdowns) to tie McCaffrey for the most in the NFL through the first 10 weeks of the season.

"When you look at Aaron, people don't realize how aggressively he runs the ball," tight end Jimmy Graham said. "He hits those holes full speed, quick, with supreme confidence in us and the receivers and the O-line that we're going to make those blocks.

"And obviously the big guy gets in there and runs over the house."

The "big guy" Graham was referring to is Williams, who racked up 41 yards on his first three carries of Green Bay's next possession in the third quarter.

Those runs moved the Packers deep into Carolina territory and helped set up the team's final 11-play, 51-yard scoring drive that culminated with Mason Crosby's 47-yard field goal to put Green Bay ahead 24-10.

Given the steady snowfall at the end of the game, Williams joked he "felt like I was in 'Frozen,' 'Frozen 2,'" referencing the Disney Pixar movie and its sequel, due in theaters later this month.

"We feel like we can run on anybody. It's just us and the mentality," Williams said. "It's just a football mentality of imposing your will on the other person. I feel like we did that. We've still got a lot more to go, but we're not scared to run the ball on anybody."

Lambeau Field hosted a Week 10 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers.

Big-play Tae: While Adams will continue thinking about the one big play he was unable to make the third quarter off a deep ball from Rodgers, the two-time Pro Bowl receiver had two others that led to eventual touchdowns.

Adams made a brilliant catch down the sideline for a 37-yard pickup in the second quarter before snagging another for 38 yards when Green Bay was facing second-and-26 from its own 9.

Both catches set up eventual Jones touchdown runs. In his second game back from a four-game layoff due to a toe injury, Adams finished with a team-high seven catches for 118 yards.

"I feel great. I wish I could have came down with that deep one," said Adams, referencing a shot play on first-and-10 that Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson broke up late. "That's going to beat me up just because I know I need to make that. … But other than that it felt good to be able to contribute a little bit and do what I can to help us win."

A gift for the defense: After signing as free agents last spring, Preston and Za'Darius Smith made a small deal with each other – the first pass rusher to 10 sacks buys a present for the defense.

That honor officially went to Preston, who notched his first season with double-digit sacks thanks to a two-sack performance against the Panthers.

His plan for a present? Rolexes for the defense.

"The whole defense. They helped me get there," Preston said. "I couldn't have gotten it done without the other 10 guys on the defense doing their job. It's very exciting for me, a career-high, double digits for the first time in my career."

Pick perfect: Tramon Williams has mainly been playing in the slot this season, which hasn't necessarily given the veteran cornerback a ton of chances at interceptions.

When the time came Sunday, however, Williams was right where he needed to be when safety Adrian Amos deflected a Kyle Allen pass in the end zone, allowing Williams to secure his first pick since Dec. 10, 2017, when he was playing in Arizona.

The play not only stopped a potential Carolina series midway through the third quarter, but also led to the Green Bay drive that produced Crosby's field goal.

"It felt great, man. It's been a while," said Williams of the INT. "Adrian was in the middle of the field, so Adrian came from one side, and I was bracketing him on the other side. … Obviously, a big-time play at that moment, took points off the board and gave our offense a chance to go down and get into a rhythm."