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Third-and-clutch: Randall Cobb shines in 'go-to' moments

There are few better in must-have situations than the Packers’ 12th-year receiver

WR Randall Cobb
WR Randall Cobb

GREEN BAY – Over his 10 seasons in Green Bay, Randall Cobb has come through for the Packers in the most critical moments of the most crucial games.

Sunday was another textbook example of the veteran receiver's resolve, as Cobb made two of the biggest plays of the day for Green Bay in a dramatic 27-24 overtime victory over the New England Patriots.

In the fourth quarter, the 32-year-old receiver caught a 24-yard pass on third-and-6 from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to spark a touchdown-producing drive that tied the game in the fourth quarter.

In overtime, Cobb hauled in a bang-bang pass from Rodgers for 11 yards on third-and-1 that not only gave the Packers a fresh set of downs but also put them within field-goal range.

Five of Cobb's 10 catches this season have been on third down, with four of those conversions coming on scoring drives.

"When you need someone in a go-to moment, it's always nice to have '18' in there," said left tackle David Bakhtiari. "From a leadership standpoint to his daily presence and routine for the young guys to see what a pro's pro needs to do every day, look no further than '18.'"

If the two third-down catches weren't enough, Cobb also gave Green Bay a new set of downs after forcing a defensive pass interference penalty against Patriots defensive back Myles Bryant on third-and-6 with three minutes left in regulation.

Known for his legendary chemistry with Rodgers, Cobb has made a career out of being clutch. Perhaps the duo's most iconic moment of all came on Cobb's game-winning touchdown on fourth-and-8 in Chicago to clinch the NFC North division title in 2013.

After being traded back to Green Bay in July 2021, Cobb caught 28 passes for 375 yards and was leading the offense in touchdown catches at the time he suffered a core-muscle injury against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 12.

Since reuniting with Rodgers, Cobb has once again been a go-to target for his quarterback and longtime friend on third down. Over his last 16 regular-season games, Cobb has caught 14 of 17 third-down targets for 208 yards and a touchdown.

All but one of those catches converted a first down. On the 11 drives in which Cobb has converted on third down, the Packers have scored nine times…seven touchdowns and two field goals, including Crosby's 31-yard walk-off against the Patriots.

After Sunday's win, Packers receiver Allen Lazard called Cobb's third-and-1 conversion in overtime "probably the biggest play of the game."

"Randall has been doing that for a while now; third down especially," Lazard said. "If you have a guy in the slot that's able to work between the hashes, no matter what the play is and be able to find that little hole or be able to break away from man like Randall Cobb does, it's a huge asset to the offense.

"He's obviously been a great addition to us the past few years and we're very lucky to have him in our room."

Cobb has long been considered "the standard" for preparation and route-running efficiency in Green Bay, and it reflects in the numbers. He ranks sixth in franchise history in receptions (508), 10th in receiving touchdowns (46), and needs just 298 more receiving yards to pass Max McGee for 10th in that category.

In addition to his two third-down conversions vs. New England, Cobb made a little more history when he caught the 600th pass of his 12-year NFL career. That's 11th-most among active players, according to Football Database.

Cobb's brilliance is in his ability to "do it exactly the way it's supposed to be done" on every play, according to Head Coach Matt LaFleur. That resonates with Green Bay's young receivers.

"If his number is called, he's going to make the play," said rookie receiver Christian Watson. "We see it every single week. When his number is called, he comes through. That's the point we're all trying to get to in that receiver room."

Cobb remains an open book, too. He was still an active participant in the team's offseason program this past spring, shepherding Watson, fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs and seventh-rounder Samori Toure.

Now in Year 12, Cobb's role and workload are different than they once were in Green Bay's offense. Through four games, Cobb has caught 10 passes for 150 yards on 107 offensive snaps (40.6%).

Still, Cobb's outlook and drive are unchanged. If it's third down and the offense is in need of a big play, Rodgers and the Packers know they're going to get the best version of Randall Cobb.

"Third down, I'm there, I'm waiting and ready," Cobb said. "I feel really good. This is the best I've felt in probably two or three years. So just trying to make sure that I stay to the routine and be able to provide a spark whenever I get that chance."

Clutch on third down

vs. Detroit (Week 2, 2021): 14 yards on third-and-14 and 9 yards on third-and-7. The 11-play, 75-yard drive ended with an 11-yard TD pass to Aaron Jones.

vs. Pittsburgh (Week 4, 2021): 8 yards on third-and-6 and 12 yards on third-and-4. The 13-play, 64-yard drive ended with Rodgers scrambling for a 4-yard TD.

at Arizona (Week 8, 2021): Cobb's 6-yard TD catch on third-and-5 ended a 12-play, 91-yard drive.

at Kansas City (Week 9, 2021): 15 yards on third-and-10. The 10-play, 53-yard drive ended with a 20-yard TD pass to Allen Lazard.

at Minnesota (Week 11, 2021): 15 yards on third-and-8. The nine-play, 74-yard drive ended with a 25-yard TD pass to Josiah Deguara.

vs. Los Angeles Rams (Week 12, 2021): 54 yards on third-and-3. The seven-play, 66-yard drive ended with a 28-yard Mason Crosby field goal.

vs. Chicago (Week 2, 2022): 9 yards on third-and-8. The nine-play, 54-yard drive ended with an 8-yard TD pass to Jones.

at Tampa Bay (Week 3, 2022): 17 yards on third-and-6. The 10-play, 75-yard drive ended with a 5-yard TD pass to Romeo Doubs.

vs. New England (Week 4, 2022): 24 yards on third-and-6. The nine-play, 75-yard drive ended with 13-yard TD pass to Doubs. 11 yards on third-and-1 on a 12-play, 77-yard drive for Crosby's 31-yard game-winning field goal.

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