Packers put deep backfield to good use in win over Rams

Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon combine for 191 rushing yards to beat Los Angeles

Packers RB Aaron Jones

GREEN BAY – In a matchup pitting the NFL's top defense against the league's most potent offense, the Packers dialed up a game plan befitting a January playoff game at Lambeau Field.

They met the Los Angeles Rams in the trenches, with the trio of Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon combining for 32 rushing attempts during Green Bay's 32-18 victory.

The Packers chipped away at the Rams' defensive front on four first-half scoring drives before Jones finally busted a 60-yard run on the first play of the third quarter. The six-play drive, on which all 75 yards were gained on the ground, produced a touchdown.

Their 191 combined rushing yards helped open things up for Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offense during a pulverizing 484-yard performance against the Rams, who allowed just 281.9 yards per game during the regular season.

"I think that set the tone, letting 'em know that we were going to come out physical and what kind of football game it was going to be," Jones said. "And our coaches told us, 'Stick with it. Stick with it. One's going to pop.' And right after halftime it popped."

With Williams and Dillon both healthy, the Packers threw all three of their running backs at the Rams in the early going. On several occasions, Green Bay lined up Jones and Dillon in the backfield together with Rodgers in shotgun.

The Packers didn't have a carry of more than nine yards on any individual rush but Williams (seven for 34 yards), Jones (seven for 22) and Dillon (three for 17) continued to plow ahead against a front featuring injured All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who played only 39 of LA's 72 snaps due to a rib injury.

The ground production not only enabled the Packers to get into their play-action game, but it also allowed an offensive line playing without star left tackle David Bakhtiari to settle in.

And then, after taking a 19-10 lead into halftime, Green Bay finally got the home-run play it was looking for when the Rams adjusted to a five-man base front with just one middle linebacker lurking behind.

With center Corey Linsley blocking safety John Johnson at the second level, Jones turned upfield for the 60-yard gain, the third longest run in postseason history for the Packers.

"It was a great run, obviously, by Aaron. Even so far down the field, he was still able to break a couple tackles," Linsley said. "Their defense does a great job of throwing looks at you to make you think a lot more. You're never just settled in there.

"You can't just turn your mind off. You really have to pay attention to everything that's going on. That was a different look that they threw at us and I was able to adjust on the fly and help spring that run."

Dillon pounded forward for eight yards on the next play, followed by a 4-yard run by Williams, and then back-to-back Jones runs until he found the end zone to extend Green Bay's lead to 25-10.

The Packers' passing game used that run equity to its advantage, particularly when Rodgers hit receiver Allen Lazard on a 58-yard touchdown off play-action in the fourth quarter to extend Green Bay's lead after the Rams cut the game to within seven.

Dillon left late in the game with a quad injury but Williams helped seal the win down the stretch with several strong north-and-south runs, including the final 4-yard pickup before the two-minute warning that sealed the win.

Jones led Green Bay with 99 rushing yards on 14 carries, while Williams added 65 on 12.

Lambeau Field hosted an NFC Divisional playoff matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021.

"I like to have that mentality every week that no one can stop me," Jones said. "But they were the No. 1 defense coming in and I just think our guys did a great job up front and once the game started it was like, 'Oh yeah. We're going to be able to run.' … You've got to be positive, got to manifest things."

Saturday's game not only pitted the league's top defense and highest-scoring offense against each other, but also the top two teams in terms of time of possession this past season.

The Packers dominated in that area, besting LA 36:12 to 23:48, while doubling up the Rams in rushing yards (188 to 96). With Green Bay's backfield making LA think, Rodgers had five completions of 20 or more yards to four different receivers.

"It's great to be able to do that because obviously people know who Aaron is and who he has to throw to, so it's a lot of weapons out there," said receiver Davante Adams, who tied a franchise single-game playoff record with nine catches for 66 yards and a TD.

"For us to be able to run the ball like that, it just keeps these defenses honest and makes the end of the game, situations like that, much easier."

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