GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers knew all along what they had in Davante Adams. It was just a question of whether he’d be healthy enough to show it.
They didn’t exactly know what they had in Aaron Jones. Now they might have found the kind of 1-2 punch in the running game that coach Mike McCarthy has always preferred.
Adams and Jones — along with Aaron Rodgers, of course — were the stars of the Packers’ 35-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at AT&T Stadium. Adams snared the game-winning 12-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers with 11 seconds to play, and Jones gave the Packers’ struggling run game a lift by rushing for 125 yards, including a touchdown and a crucial fourth-down conversion.
Thanks to Adams’ and Jones’ contributions and Rodgers being Rodgers — the two-time MVP completed 19 of 29 passes for 221 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions — the Packers are now 4-1, and looking for more ways to improve.
“Hey, we’re happy to be where we are, 4-1, but we need to play better,” McCarthy said Monday. “We weren’t as clean as we needed to be, and that showed up in our performance. That’s why it’s great to win and coach hard on Mondays.”
There wasn’t much to criticize about Adams or Jones.
Adams, who left Lambeau Field in an ambulance after a helmet-to-helmet hit left him with a concussion during the Packers’ Sept. 28 victory over Chicago, was cleared to play on Saturday and played all but four of Green Bay’s offensive snaps against the Cowboys.
He responded with seven receptions for 66 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the other one a 10-yarder for the Packers’ first points. Adams and Rodgers couldn’t connect on the play before the game-winner, and he came back to the huddle and called for the ball once more.
“I was going to call another play,” Rodgers said. “But Tae came back and said, ‘Call it again.’ With his eyes, he just said, ‘Throw a better ball.’ (So I) just put a better throw on it and he made a great catch.”
Adams enters next Sunday’s game against NFC North rival Minnesota tied for the team lead in receptions (23) and leading the team in receiving yards (285). His four touchdown catches trail only Jordy Nelson’s six.
Adams, who struggled with an ankle injury in 2015 and wasn’t as productive as the Packers needed him to be that year with Nelson out for the season with a knee injury, has been outstanding since the start of last season. Including the playoffs, he has caught 91 passes for 1,214 yards and 14 touchdowns.
“There was a never a doubt of, ‘Can Davante Adams be an excellent, top-notch NFL football player?’ But it’s a process. Every player goes through it. You have ups and downs,” McCarthy said. “He’s the real deal.”
Jones might turn out to be the real deal, too. The third running back on the depth chart to start the season, he was inactive for the Sept. 10 regular-season opener against Seattle. He was pressed into action when Ty Montgomery (ribs) and Jamaal Williams (knee) were injured against the Bears.
“Aaron had an opportunity, and man, he cashed in. I’m proud of him,” McCarthy said. “He’s earned the right to have more opportunities and move forward.
“But this is not a one-man show. It’s going to take them all.”
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