Packers get back to the ground game


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.