Red-zone success on both sides of ball gets Packers back in win column

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GREEN BAY – In a win the Packers absolutely, positively had to have, what got it might have been as simple as this:

Green Bay went 4-for-4 in the red zone and held Miami to an 0-for-3 mark.

Scoring touchdowns while surrendering only field goals produced a 31-12 Packers victory on Sunday at Lambeau Field that snapped a two-game losing streak and, for the fourth time this year, evened the team’s record. The Packers will take a 4-4-1 mark into a short week and a big game at Seattle on Thursday night.

“We needed to win,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “We got the run game going. We had a lot more balance, which we haven’t had all season.”

Second-year running back Aaron Jones produced that balance, rushing 15 times for a career-high 145 yards and two touchdowns. His 67-yard run late in the first quarter set up his first score, but he still averaged 5.6 yards on his other 14 carries in the Packers’ most productive and efficient ground game of the season.

“He got going, he really did,” Rodgers said. “He’s a really good back, a slasher, fast, tough to take down. The first guy doesn’t bring him down a whole lot.”

Jones’ running in the red zone – he finished a third-quarter touchdown drive with back-to-back runs of 12 and 10 yards to score – was a big part of the offensive efficiency in close. By gashing the Dolphins with six runs of 10 or more yards, Jones also set up the play-action game, and Rodgers posted a strong 112.1 passer rating (19-of-28, 199 yards, two TDs).

It all helped make up for the first fumble of Jones’ career last week at New England, where the Packers were in a tight game but the miscue turned the tide in a second straight loss.

“Aaron Jones is very diligent,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “One thing I enjoy about him is his work ethic. He’s the same guy every day. He brings great energy to the workplace. He’s not an up-and-down personality. It’s no surprise how he approached it Wednesday morning after New England.”

The Packers’ two other red-zone possessions were finished off with TD passes to Davante Adams (four catches, 57 yards), who now has a team-leading nine touchdowns on the season. The second one was a 25-yarder after Adams’ own penalty had pushed the Packers out of the red zone, but he and his QB converted anyway.

“Both Aarons had clean looks,” McCarthy said, referring to Rodgers and Jones. “Really until the last throw, Aaron (the QB) wasn’t hit very much. We gave Aaron (the RB) some clean creases and he definitely hit them.”

Defensively, the Packers didn’t allow a touchdown, repeatedly getting stops after the Dolphins behind backup QB Brock Osweiler (23-of-37, 213 yards, 66.6 rating) and running back Frank Gore (13 carries, 90 yards) got in position to score.

The first stop was a gift, as a shotgun snap flew by Osweiler’s shoulder with Miami at the Green Bay 14-yard line on the game’s opening possession. Linebacker Reggie Gilbert recovered for the Packers’ first takeaway since the bye week.

After that, the defense was put in tough spots due to a Tramon Williams fumble on a punt return, a failed fourth down at midfield, and a blocked punt deep in Green Bay territory.

Each time, the Packers held the Dolphins to field goals, with Kyler Fackrell’s team-leading fifth sack on one of the third downs proving crucial. McCarthy refers to this as “adversity defense,” and the Packers won the day there.

Lambeau Field hosted a Week 10 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Miami Dolphins

“For sure this is the type of game we needed from our defense,” Rodgers said. “We held them to four field goals. Every time there was the potential for momentum swings … those were big plays from them.

“We needed that. If they play like that, and we run the ball like that, we’ll be tough to beat.”

The Packers took command with a second turnover, an interception by in-season signee Bashaud Breeland in the third quarter, two plays after Jones’ second TD run had put the Packers up, 21-12.

Breeland later left the game with a groin injury, but Adams’ second TD followed a few snaps after the pick and the Packers never looked back. On Miami’s final possession, the Packers added three sacks to run their game total to six, with Kenny Clark matching Fackrell for the team lead with his fifth on the year.

Heading into the short week and a Tuesday evening flight to Seattle, McCarthy’s biggest concern is the team’s medical report. In addition to Breeland, safety Kentrell Brice (ankle) and cornerback Jaire Alexander (evaluation for concussion) also exited, leaving the secondary thin. Linebacker Nick Perry (knee) and backup offensive lineman Lucas Patrick (evaluated for concussion) left the game as well.

“It’s going to be a quick week,” McCarthy said. “We have some injuries to work through and we’ll see how we are tomorrow.

“We have to bounce back.”

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