TAMPA—It took until the Packers’ fourth possession, toward the end of the first quarter before receiver Randall Cobb had a ball thrown his way on Sunday.
From that point on, though, he was money for Aaron Rodgers.
Cobb set career highs in both receptions and yards with 11 catches for 131 yards in Sunday’s 20-3 victory over Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium. Lining up all over the formation like he usually does, Cobb worked the short-to-intermediate routes successfully and found a lot of production in the middle of the field against Lovie Smith’s Tampa-2 defense.
“Just finding the holes in the zone and being able to beat the one-on-one matchups,” Cobb said of how he had so much success. “We were able to make plays in different areas.
“Once you make some plays early on, it’s kind of a snowball effect. (Rodgers) is going to continue to come to you.”
On one third-quarter drive, Cobb had catches of 12, 15 and 15 yards in a span of five plays. His two biggest gains were 24 and 30 yards, while fellow receiver Jordy Nelson’s longest went for 28.
Most of those explosive plays came with yards after the catch. The Buccaneers, as expected under Smith, guarded against the deep ball.
“We have a lot of experience against Lovie,” Nelson said. “The way he calls his defense and installs it, it’s going to take a while. We knew it was going to be a grind-it-out game.
“They make you go the long way. We were going to be patient and take what they give us.”
Nelson finished with nine catches – on nine targeted throws – for 113 yards, including a 1-yard TD to cap the scoring in the fourth quarter.
Cobb and Nelson both went over 100 yards receiving in the same game for the third time this season. The others were at Chicago and vs. Philadelphia.
After the game, both top receivers complimented Rodgers on his gritty effort, which came while dealing with a cold and while limping slightly throughout most of the game.
“He’s a competitor, that’s what I love about him,” Cobb said. “He’s going to go out and give his best no matter what. He’s going to play through pain, play through sickness. It’s just great to see a teammate going out there and putting his body on the line every down for you. It’s great to play with him.”
Milestone for Lacy: On his 44-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, Eddie Lacy went over 1,000 rushing yards on the season, becoming the fifth Packers running back to do so in back-to-back years.
The others to accomplish the feat are Jim Taylor, John Brockington, Ahman Green and Ryan Grant.
Lacy finished with 17 carries for 99 yards, coming just one yard shy of giving the Packers three individual 100-yard performances for the first time this season.
“It’s nice to see those guys have big days, especially for Eddie since he’s on my fantasy team,” guard T.J. Lang joked. “We never have goals to go out and this guy get 100 yards. We try to execute on offense and let the individual stats take care of themselves. We just need to do a little bit more to get in the end zone, starting this week.”
Big meeting: The Packers not only elected six captains as their team leaders for the rest of the season this week, they had them stand up in front of the team at the hotel on Saturday night in a players’ only meeting to talk about what lies ahead.
“It wasn’t anything mind-blowing, but just making sure guys understand the opportunity that’s ahead of us,” said Nelson, who is a captain along with Rodgers, Cobb, Julius Peppers, Morgan Burnett and Jarrett Bush.
Burnett declined to reveal any specifics of the meeting, only saying, “It was something we needed.”
The Packers are in the playoffs for a sixth straight season and the seventh time in Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure, but only once have they won more than one playoff game – in 2010, when they won the Super Bowl.
“Some of us have been there. Some have been there and came up short, some have been there and won it all, and some haven’t experienced any of it,” Nelson said. “You just try to educate other guys on what this opportunity means and what it can do, how hard it is to get there and how hard it is to win.” COMPLETE GAME COVERAGE