It’s not that the Packers leading rusher didn’t want the ball — he’d never gotten one before in his three-year pro career — but Jones felt his offensive linemen deserved the credit for his 182 scrimmage yards and franchise-record-tying four rushing touchdowns. They refused to take it.
“Without them, I’m nothing, along with the rest of the blocking unit,” Jones said via The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman. “But the linemen gave it back to me. They were like, ‘No, you’re home. You’re in Texas. You take this ball.’”
A native of El Paso, Texas, Jones didn’t just take home the game ball. He also took home the distinguished title of NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career, as the league announced Wednesday. His performance tied Dorsey Levens’ 1999 franchise record of four rushing touchdowns in a game, while he also became the first-ever NFL player to score four rushing touchdowns against the Cowboys.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson joined him as his AFC offensive counterpart, while Indianapolis Colts defensive end Justin Houston (AFC) and San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (NFC) took home the defensive awards.
Jones has now scored a league-leading eight touchdowns over his past four games for the Packers, matching his 12-game total for the entire 2018 season, and seems likely to retain the primary role for another week as Jamaal Williams is still missing practice with a concussion he sustained during Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Despite having just 302 rushing yards on the season, Jones has twice run for more than 100 yards against an opponent and has hauled in a second-most 19 receptions for 150 yards. The fun could only just be starting with a favorable home matchup in Week 6 against the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football.
“The big guys up front, getting ’em moving, and I’m just seeing creases and I’m able to run,” said Jones, again crediting his offensive line. “When you can do that, it’s fun out there. You’re just running and weaving through traffic pretty much.”
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An Unforgettable Homecoming for Aaron Jones
Jones remained a hometown kid after his standout prep career William H. Burges High School, electing to stay local with the University of Texas at El Paso and becoming a record-setting star for the Miners. He smashed a record of nearly three decades with 17 career games with at least 100 rushing yards and finished his senior season with a single-season rushing record of 1,773 yards before entering the 2017 NFL Draft.
Staying home was no longer an option once the Packers drafted him in the fifth round, but Jones has excelled in his two trips back to the Lone Star State. As a rookie, he recorded his first 100-yard rushing game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, when he rushed 125 yards and a touchdown in a 35-31 win over the Cowboys in Week 5 of the 2017 season.
Now, counting his stunning sequel outing in which he was mic’d up, Jones is averaging 6.1 yards per carry in two games against the Cowboys with a rushing line of 38 carries, 232 yards and five touchdowns to go along with eight catches for 84 yards.
“It was a blessing to come back home in front of 30-plus family members,” Jones said. “There’s nothing like that. I’ll never forget this day.”
More in Store Against Detroit at Lambeau?
Jones’ blast-off week wasn’t totally predictable, but he was anticipated to receive a nice bump in carries with Williams out with a concussion. The same is expected to be the case during Week 6’s prime-time home game against the Lions, as Williams is still in concussion protocol, according to The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman.
Williams rejoined the team last week after being hospitalized from the brutal hit he took, but the chances that he’ll return Monday night are getting slimmer by the day with no official word on his status this week. Without him on the field, the Packers can lean on Tra Carson and fullback Danny Vitale — or, if deemed ready, rookie rusher Dexter Williams — but Jones could be all they need.
The trust he built against the Cowboys confirms him as a dangerous dimension to the Packers offense, which is comforting news with star wideout Davante Adams (turf toe) still uncertain to play against the Lions. And with Detroit giving up more than 120 rushing yards per game, it’s hard to imagine his role diminishing in Week 6.