Aaron Jones didn’t just reclaim the NFL touchdown lead when he scored his 19th touchdown during Monday night’s win over the Minnesota Vikings. He also put himself in a position to tie or break a Green Bay Packers scoring record in the final week of the regular season.
The Packers’ prolific lead rusher needs just one touchdown in Sunday afternoon road game against the Detroit Lions to tie Ahman Green’s 2003 record for most total touchdowns in a single season. Breaching the end zone twice — which Jones did in each of the Packers’ past two games — against the Lions would give Jones sole possession of the record with 21, adding another notch in the belt of the third-year running back’s breakout season.
“He’s electric,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said of Jones in Sunday’s postgame. “Anytime he touches the ball, he can go the distance. He’s got that next-level speed. When he gets to that second level, he can take it the distance. He’s been so valuable really in all three phases in terms of out of the backfield, as a receiver and in pass protection he’s done a great job as well.
“He’s a really versatile back and we’re lucky to have him.”
Jones has scored multiple touchdowns in six of his 15 games this season, including a career-best four rushing touchdowns during Week 5’s win in Dallas and a pair of receiving scores in a road win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8. He also needs just 17 yards to become the 13th running back this season with more than 1,000 rushing yards in the league.
With 19 total touchdowns on the year, Jones has one more than Carolina rusher Christian McCaffrey and four more than next-closest running backs Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram.
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Packers Rushers Among Position’s Best as Receivers
The Packers have remained dedicated to their one-two rushing punch of Jones and Jamaal Williams through the first 15 games of the season and for good reason.
Williams has nearly crossed the 500-yard threshold as a rusher heading into Week 17 and is even more efficient than Jones in the passing game. While Jones has Packers’ third-most receiving yards 431 — just two yards behind wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling — Williams has a team-high five receiving touchdowns and has just as many first downs (16) on receptions as his counterpart.
According to Pro Football Focus, Williams (89.2, fourth) and Jones (88.2, fifth) came into Week 16 among the highest-graded running backs in the passing game. If they held their standing through the end of the regular season, it would be the first time the Packers had two running back finish with the top-five receiving grades in the league.
Such versatility in the backfield has naturally created problems, too, for opposing defense in addition to supplying the Packers’ attack with another dimension while Rodgers and his plethora of receivers have struggled to consistently drive down the field.
“We’ve got a pretty good run game going, two backs who can really do it, one back who has really had a heck of a season for us,” Rodgers said in Sunday’s postgame. “With the way Marcedes (Lewis) has been blocking and the line has been blocking, we’ve really run the ball well the last half of the season I feel like.”