The Green Bay Packers got a breakout performance from second-round rookie wide receiver Christian Watson in their 31-28 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 10, and Aaron Rodgers believes it could be the type of game that changes things “on an atomic level” for Watson moving forward.
Watson provided the Packers with the necessary spark on offense in their overtime win over the Cowboys on Sunday night, catching four passes for 107 yards and three touchdowns — including the game-tying score in the fourth quarter. Not only was it the clutch performance the Packers needed at receiver, but it was also a big moment for a rookie player who started the game with two drops and has missed time with injuries.
“I think that (first touchdown) catch probably, on the atomic level, shifted a lot of different things for him, exorcising some energetic demons,” Rodgers said in the postgame. “I’m proud of him. He made some plays. His best catch of the night was that low throw on the backed-up drive on 3rd-and-2. But he has a good skill set, and obviously, he’s really really fast. Gotta get him to catch the ball a little more consistently, but not much negative you can say after his performance tonight.
“We need him to stay healthy because, when he is, he’s a different type of guy.
Rodgers: Watson Got ‘800-Pound Gorilla’ Off His Back
Rodgers has wavered between talking up his receivers and criticizing their mistakes throughout the first few months of the 2022 season, but he had quite a bit of good things to say about Watson following his three-touchdown performance. One of his best insights came when he was asked about whether Watson showed him anything early in his time in Green Bay that tipped off Rodgers that a breakout was possible.
Here’s the detailed response that Rodgers gave:
He’s always been a guy who asks really good questions. You can tell he cares about it. I think there are times where all of us can relate to being really hard on ourselves, and I think both him and Rome (Doubs) both can go through stretches where they get really down on themselves and I think, as a leader, I’ve alerted Jonesey (Aaron Jones) and Big Dog (Marcedes Lewis) to make sure we keep an eye on those guys. Because there is so much talent and opportunity there, but sometimes when they’re a little hard on themselves, it might detract from the possibilities of a night like tonight.
I will say this, he’s been doing a lot of work on his visualization and the mental side and I think it shows up. After those two drops, I feel like he reset on the sidelines. I kinda came over to him and said, ‘Hey, the ball’s still coming your way, buddy. Let’s get one of these and make a play.’ And like I said, that first one I feel like was the monkey, the 800-pound gorilla off his back, the weight of expectations and frustrations and drops and disappointment, and hopefully, that’s a big jolt for him moving forward.
Watson Has Historic Breakout at Right Time for Packers
The Packers have been forced to wait patiently for Watson to finally have his moment for their offense. They tried to give it to him on the first play of their season-opening drive with a deep shot that would have gone for a 75-yard touchdown, but the rookie let it slip through his fingers. Then, a combination of hamstring injuries and concussion concerns wiped out a large chunk of his first nine games with the Packers.
Fortunately, the patience paid off for the Packers in Week 10 as they snapped their five-game losing streak with a 31-28 overtime win over the Cowboys.
Watson caught his first career touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Cowboys and then added another two in the fourth quarter to account for the majority of the Packers’ points on the night. Two of his three touchdowns were also deep-shot throws from Aaron Rodgers, scoring on receptions of 59 and 39 yards. He is now the first Packers rookie to have more than 100 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions in a single game since James Lofton in 1978, per ESPN Stats & Info.