Randall Cobb is right where Aaron Rodgers needs him to be

Third-down connection between two best friends played major role in Packers’ victory over Steelers

WR Randall Cobb

GREEN BAY – It sure seemed like old times out there between Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb.

"Tonight was really fun," Rodgers said.

Except a five-catch, 69-yard, two-TD performance in the Packers' 27-17 win over the Steelers shouldn't be taken for granted, even from a veteran as accomplished as Cobb.

It's easy to forget he showed up barely more than two months ago, needing to learn a new offense and reconnect with his best friend and longtime quarterback after two years apart.

The latter was the easy piece. The former got a jump start with Cobb staying at Rodgers' house for the first week-plus of training camp before his family joined him in Green Bay following the late July trade.

Their nightly routine was to go over the installs of the offensive playbook, which Cobb did at his own pace.

"He shushed me a few times when it was too much info," Rodgers joked.

As quickly as Cobb learned everything, though, his role was limited early on. He was averaging just 16 snaps per game through the first three weeks, but Marquez Valdes-Scantling's hamstring injury late in last Sunday's game opened a door.

Sure enough, Cobb was right where he needed to be for Rodgers, who saw early on that Pittsburgh's plan was to double-team Davante Adams a bunch and try to take him out of the game.

On Green Bay's second possession of the game, on third-and-6, Rodgers hit Cobb over the middle for 8 yards. Three plays later, third-and-4, Rodgers to Cobb for 12.

Next possession, following a Steelers turnover, third-and-10 from the Pittsburgh 23. Rodgers to Cobb on a deep crosser, touchdown.

"There's a knack to playing in the slot," Rodgers said. "To have another guy in there who can get open like that and have the feel that he does just gives us a lot of flexibility in the offense, for sure."

On the opening drive of the second half, Rodgers went to Cobb again over the middle on third down, needing 7 yards and getting 25. The two finished this turn-back-the-clock outing with a 1-yard TD connection later in the third quarter as Rodgers scrambled and found Cobb right by the pylon.

"It's kind of like riding a bike," Cobb said. "You've been around each other for so long and you understand. He understands how I move, so whenever I'm getting ready to break on my route, he knows. It's muscle memory."

So much so that later in the second half, a trio converged on the same opening in the defense – Rodgers' pass, Cobb and Adams – and a leaping Cobb actually took away what might have been a big play to Adams. No harm, no foul when up by 17 points, but the play illustrated how Cobb is not only setting into his new offense, but regaining the mind-meld Rodgers always has enjoyed with his best receivers.

Lambeau Field hosted a Week 4 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021.

Head Coach Matt LaFleur commented on the roar Cobb received from the crowd when introduced before the game (the defense got the intros in the home opener two weeks ago), and how much respect is evident for Cobb inside and outside the Packers' locker room.

With Valdes-Scantling, who was placed on injured reserve, out at least two more games, Sunday could be just the start of a really good run here for Cobb. He was needed, he came through, and it's easy to envision his steady presence in the offense over the long haul now, even with all the options at LaFleur's disposal.

"It's about all of us producing, because that's what's going to make us take that next step," Cobb said. "I play a piece in that, part of the puzzle.

"I think we've got a very resilient team. I think we have a very confident team. Us being humbled Week 1 really opened our eyes to this isn't a cakewalk. After that first loss, we kind of reset our mind. We didn't lose confidence in who we were."

Neither did Cobb, and his old friend, as well as the 2021 Packers as a whole, are the beneficiaries.

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