James Jones reels in some big catches
By Gary D’Amato, Journal-Sentinel
~Green Bay – The Green Bay Packers dusted off an old weapon in their arsenal Sunday night:
After catching four passes for 46 yards in the last three games combined, the fifth-year receiver caught four for 50 and two touchdowns in the Packers’ 35-21 victory over the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.
Jones made clutch plays in the 2-minute drill before halftime, beat Bears cornerback Zack Bowman for both of his touchdowns and set up a third score when he drew a holding penalty on Bowman in the end zone.
Jones already had left the locker room by the time the media was allowed in after the game, but his play spoke volumes.
“James is a great player,” said receiver Jordy Nelson, whose locker is next to Jones’ and who also had a big day with six catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns. “We know he can do it. He got the opportunities, and he made plays.
“He made a huge play in the 2-minute to get us down the field. He made plays down at the goal line to get in the end zone. He stepped up big tonight.”
Even with the injured Greg Jennings (knee) sitting out, Green Bay got a ton of production from its passing game, with Aaron Rodgers throwing five touchdown passes and the receivers – Nelson, Jones, Donald Driver and rookie Randall Cobb – combining for 14 catches for 216 yards and four touchdowns.
“We hold everyone accountable, and everyone’s got to make plays for us,” Nelson said.
Rodgers threw a fifth touchdown pass to tight end Jermichael Finley.
The first two times he was targeted by Rodgers, Jones couldn’t come up with the catch. He slipped and fell on a back-shoulder throw and then Rodgers, under pressure, short-hopped a pass to him.
After that, Jones was spectacular.
On second and 10, with the Packers ahead, 7-3, and 1 minute 45 seconds left in the first half, Jones ran a crossing route from right to left, Rodgers hit him in stride and it ruptured into a 32-yard gain.
Five plays later, Jones beat Bowman on a slant for a 2-yard touchdown to pad the Packers’ lead to 14-3 with 16 seconds left in the half.
Late in the third quarter, Jones caught a 7-yard touchdown pass, this time on a fade, with Bowman in coverage.
Then, on the Packers’ next possession, he ran another slant from the Bears’ 5-yard line and drew the holding penalty on Bowman, giving the Packers a first and goal at the 2. On the next play, Rodgers hit Nelson on a slant for the touchdown to give Green Bay an insurmountable 35-10 lead.
Nelson said the Packers had been running a lot of fades near the goal line and teams started shading receivers to the outside. That opened up the slant.
“That’s something we kind of adjusted to with the fact that we run so many fade balls down there,” he said. “They started playing outside a little bit more and that leaves the inside open.
“So now they have to decide what they want to do. Again, it’s taking what they give you. They have to make a decision how they’re going to play us. We’re going to go off what they’re doing.”
Jones last had four receptions Oct. 23 at Minnesota. He had been shut out in two of the previous five games. His two touchdowns, a career high, gave him seven for the season.
Nelson said he expected the Packers’ quartet of receivers to play against the Detroit Lions in the regular-season finale, even though the team has clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
“We want to play,” he said. “I mean, I do. We’re not going to have much of a choice over here because Greg is down. We’re here to play football, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
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