ST. LOUIS – Earlier this week, coming off his first career 100-yard receiving game, Randall Cobb talked about getting on the same page with Aaron Rodgers.
On Sunday in St. Louis, Cobb looked like he was on the same line of that page.
Cobb did a little bit of everything on offense in the Packers’ 30-20 victory at the Edward Jones Dome. He ran the ball and caught a shovel pass out of the backfield, and he added key catches from the slot on his way to a two-TD day with more than 100 yards from scrimmage.
“I feel like it’s come a long way,” Cobb said of his connection with Rodgers. “You can see he trusts me a lot more. I’m just trying to be consistent with that and doing all I can to help this offense and help this team.”
Rodgers’ trust in Cobb was no stronger than on a key third down in the fourth quarter. With the Packers leading 20-13 and needing a knockout punch, the Rams jumped offside and Rodgers took advantage.
He let it fly to Cobb deep down the hashmarks, and Cobb hauled it in without breaking stride for a game-sealing 39-yard touchdown.
Rodgers has been superb throughout his career with those free plays, and Sunday was no exception. He also hit Jordy Nelson for 52 yards on a free play in the first quarter to set up the Packers’ first touchdown.
“He’s great at finding his receivers downfield,” Cobb said of Rodgers when he sees a yellow flag on the defense. “We all try to become targets whenever they jump offside. We try to get open. That’s the biggest thing is getting open and giving Aaron a target downfield.”
Cobb had two receiving TDs in a game for the first time in his career and finished with eight receptions for 89 yards. He added a 19-yard run that helped lead to a field goal in the first half, and his 11-yard burst up the middle on a shovel pass preceded his second TD.
His first score, a 5-yard reception, concluded a brilliant 12-play, 80-yard drive to open the third quarter that put the Packers in control. On that drive, Rodgers converted three consecutive third downs, two with passes to Nelson, who had his second straight big day with eight catches for 122 yards and a TD.
“It’s just about executing,” Nelson said of the efficiency on third downs, as the Packers were 9 of 15 on the day. “We just have to amp it up a little bit more when it comes to third down. Those are big downs to keep the possession alive.”
On the flip side, the Rams were just 4 of 11 on third downs, and the Packers kept them out of the end zone through the first three quarters.
The Packers struggled to contain the St. Louis running game early, but the only crucial mistake came when a bubble screen to receiver Chris Givens ruptured into a 56-yard gain. That led to a Steven Jackson TD run that pulled the Rams within 20-13 with 8:50 left in the game, before the Packers answered with Cobb’s long TD.
That screen pass almost went nowhere for St. Louis. Linebacker Clay Matthews got a hand on the throw as it left quarterback Sam Bradford’s hand, but the wobbly pass still found its way to Givens.
“That’s two weeks in a row that I’ve gotten a hand on a screen pass and unfortunately it went out of the gate,” said Matthews, who had one of the Packers’ three sacks of Bradford. “I’ll have to jump a little higher next time.”
Most important is that the Packers jumped above .500 for the first time this year at 4-3 with two home games before their bye week. The team talked all week about needing to win back-to-back games for the first time this season, and that mission was accomplished.
“I think we took a step in the right direction,” Matthews said. “Getting two wins in a row is big, and we’re finally coming home for two games. We’d like to finish this first half of the season with a 6-3 record.” Additional coverage - Oct. 21