Packers' offense riding Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams for all they're worth

RB Aaron Jones
RB Aaron Jones

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Aaron Jones promised to make it up to Aaron Rodgers.

After a slight step out of bounds nullified a 60-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, the Packers' third-year running back told his MVP quarterback he'd get another one midway through Sunday night's game against Kansas City.

A man of his word, Jones capped a career day by catching a short pass from Rodgers and breaking it down the same sideline his foot touched earlier en route to a 67-yard touchdown pass that proved to be the game-winner in Green Bay's 31-24 triumph over the Chiefs in front of 73,558 at Arrowhead Stadium.

And a few weeks after setting a new career-high with 182 total yards in his home state of Texas, Jones reset that mark with 20 touches for 226 total yards, including a career-best 159 receiving yards, to power the Packers' offense.

The 67-yard score was the perfect elixir after having to settle for a 50-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter when Jones' 60-yard touchdown was overturned upon review because his toe grazed the white paint of the sideline.

"That's all I was thinking: Stay in bounds and don't get caught once I took off," said Jones of his 67-yard score. "I wish I could have the first one back, I came off and told A-Rod: 'I owe you another one, I guess. I stepped out.' Made up for it and gave him one."

From the moment Matt LaFleur was hired as the Packers' new head coach, Jones and Jamaal Williams heard all the positive chatter about what that might mean for Green Bay's one-two backfield punch. In summation, the duo's impact no longer was going to be limited to the backfield.

That was never more evident than Sunday night at Arrowhead when the two combined for 20 carries, 10 catches, 262 total yards and all four of the Packers' touchdowns.

LaFleur called several plays with both running backs on the field at the same time. After Jones' touchdown was changed to a 50-yard gain (and made his "worm" celebration all for naught), Williams finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown on a play in which both Jones and fullback Danny Vitale were on the field.

Williams also pulled down a miraculous 3-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone at the start of the fourth quarter on a play in which it appeared Rodgers was throwing the ball away.

"People just think running backs run the ball, but really we do a lot more than that," Williams said. "We showed that we can go out there and run routes, try to be good in one-on-one coverages, run slip screens. It's just giving us more weapons in our arsenal, just showing that running backs are versatile, we can do everything."

The scheme certainly has brought the best out of the two backs over the past month. Playing without two-time Pro Bowl receiver Davante Adams, Jones and Williams have been the offense's top two playmakers.

In four games without Adams, who remains out with a turf toe injury, the Packers' top two running backs have combined for 754 total yards and 11 touchdowns. Comparatively, Jones and Williams combined for 412 yards and five touchdowns in the first four games of the season.

Jones couldn't remember the last time he had anything comparable to the seven catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns he had Sunday night against Kansas City. If he had to guess, it might have been when his twin brother, Alvin Jr., was throwing him the ball at Burges High School back home in El Paso, Texas. Regardless, pass-catching was a huge point of emphasis for the 5-foot-9 running back this offseason and it's showing on the field.

"If they're in your catch radius, my mom always tells me if it touches your hand, you better catch it," Jones said. "Take her advice and anything that touches my hands, I try to come down with."

When needed, Jones proved he could still run it, too. With the Packers backed up to their own 2-yard line with 5 minutes, 4 seconds remaining, Jones gained back-to-back first downs entirely on the ground to force Kansas City to use all three of its timeouts. Then, on the first play after the two-minute warning, Rodgers hit Jones on a 8-yard out route out of an empty set on third-and-5 to seal the Packers' seventh win of the season.

With 29 rushing yards on the drive, Jones topped 200 total yards in a game for the first time in his NFL career. For Williams, it was his first multiple-touchdown performance since Week 14 against Cleveland during his rookie season in 2017.

"I felt like those backs ran with a purpose and a mission," center Corey Linsley said. "They wanted that thing. They were saying in the huddle we want this thing. It was an awesome job by both of them. They're fantastic backs, fantastic people."

Jones exited briefly with a shoulder injury but returned to add two touchdowns and reach 11 in eight games this season. That puts him only one score off his 12 from 2018. Jones thought he might have bested that total Sunday but a holding penalty and his overturned run in the first quarter wiped out two additional touchdowns - and the worm celebration he used to commemorate both.

Jones still has bigger goals in mind, though – he wants to lead the NFL in touchdowns this year.

""I write down my goals there on my mirror at home, so you've just got to keep working towards that," Jones said. "Should've had two more. Got called back. Won't be doing the worm anymore."

The Green Bay Packers faced off against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday Night Football.

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