Monday, October 7, 2013
A look at the breakdown in Jones' TD catch
By Michael Rothstein
The play the Green Bay Packers used to break open the game Sunday against the Detroit Lions, the one that really helped give the Packers their 22-9 win, wasn’t the play that was initially called.
The play that brought Green Bay an 83-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to James Jones was supposed to be something else entirely.
“It wasn’t the play in the huddle,” Jones said. “He checked to it at the line of scrimmage. We’ve been telling him they’ve been playing Cover 2 a lot, and the safety hasn’t been getting over there to the outside receiver.
James Jones beat Detroit cornerback Chris Houston and caught this pass from Aaron Rodgers, then finished off an 83-yard game-changing TD.
“He got us in the right play.”
In some ways, the Green Bay offense was prophetic.
Green Bay was deep in its own territory after two holding penalties, and held a six-point lead on Detroit in the later stages of the third quarter when the Packers broke open the game.
The Packers lined up with Rodgers in the shotgun, Eddie Lacy to his right, and three wide receivers on the outside -- Jones out wide to the left with Randall Cobb next to him in the slot. On the opposite side was Jordy Nelson.
Multiple defenders said Detroit was in Cover 2 on the play.
Rodgers took the snap, and Jones immediately tried to go vertical on Houston, who had been battling a hamstring injury all week.
“We were just in a zone and I got my read route,” Houston said. “And he found the ball in the hole and that’s it. It was in the zone, that’s what it was.”
Houston intially attempted to jam Jones, getting his hands on him and slowing him for a millisecond before Jones made a move left and slipped past the cornerback. Houston even slowed up a little bit on the play, almost anticipating there would be a safety covering deep. There wasn’t.
“Yeah, you’re like, ‘Oh, what,’" Houston said. “That’s on us, that’s not something they did, give them credit, they made plays, but that’s on us.”
Delmas was the safety on Houston's side.
By the time Rodgers threw the ball, Jones was already three yards ahead of Houston, who wasn’t going to catch him, especially with a hamstring that he said after the game wasn’t fully healthy yet.
To be sure, Jones eventually cut inside to make sure there was no way Houston could catch him.
The safety on the play, Delmas, appeared to be helping Bentley on Cobb. When he saw the ball thrown, he immediately started sprinting back, and when Jones crossed the goal-line, Delmas jumped in the air, appearing frustrated and angry.
Part of the issue there might have come from the move Cobb pulled on Bentley.
“It’s often the things you don’t see on the play that make the play,” Rodgers said. “Randall did a great job of avoiding the defender in the slot (and) getting up on the safety quick, influencing him in that Cover 2, and James was screaming on the sidelines.
“(He) made a great catch, was in the right spot and was able to make them miss there on about the 10-yard line.”
The play gave Green Bay a two-possession lead. With Detroit’s offense stagnating all day, it was enough to give the Packers a massive cushion.
“We gave up 83 yards,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said when asked about the play. “I don’t go through and assign blame or anything else. We broke down. We gave up an 83-yarder.
“That’s bad enough. I’m not in the business of scapegoating anybody or stuff like that. That’s for us as players and coaches to correct and it’s on our defense. It’s on our team. It’s not on one person or anything else.”
ESPN.com Packers reporter Rob Demovsky contributed to this report.