On Sunday at Washington, fourth-year back Brandon Jackson certainly looked the part of a lead back, posting a career-high 115 yards on just 10 carries (11.5 avg.). It was Green Bay’s first 100-yard rusher since Grant posted 137 yards on the ground at Chicago last season in Week 14.
“You’ve got to give him credit,” wide receiver Donald Driver said. “The big run that he had in the first half, that was a turning point. That shows that we can run the ball if all 11 guys play together. I think he did a great job. A lot of people didn’t think he was going to come out and do it, and he did exactly what he needed to do.”
That big run came on Jackson’s first carry of the afternoon. With the offense starting its second series at the Washington 10, Jackson took a draw up the middle, made a nice move to elude a tackler at the second level, before bouncing it out down the right sideline for a career-long 71-yard gain to the Washington 19.
Jackson’s big gain was the longest by a Packer since DeShawn Wynn’s 73-yarder vs. Detroit on Dec. 28, 2008, at Lambeau Field, which ironically came on Wynn’s second carry of the game.
“As a running back you always want to get the tempo started and get off to a good start,” Jackson said. “That was all I was trying to do was just give the offense a spark and move the ball down the field.
“It was just being aggressive, running to daylight. I saw a little hole, I hit it and made a guy miss and that was it.”
Jackson’s previous career high of 113 rushing yards on 20 attempts came in his rookie campaign of 2007 against Detroit in the season finale. Against the Redskins on Sunday, Jackson added 25 receiving yards on five catches, giving him a career-high 140 yards from scrimmage to top his previous personal best of 135 in the ’07 Lions contest.
“Week in and week out, I consistently feel myself growing into the starting role,” Jackson said. “We are going to keep pushing and continue to pick it up and keep moving forward.
“It was good, but it wasn’t good enough. We lost. Maybe if I had gotten a couple more yards here, a couple more yards there, got a touchdown, maybe we would have won. Who knows? We’ve just got to pick it up on offense.”
Cornerback Tramon Williams accomplished something on Sunday afternoon that no other Packer had ever done in the history of the franchise.
Williams posted a 52-yard punt return in the second quarter and a 64-yard interception return on the final play of regulation to become the first Green Bay player to register a 50-yard punt return and a 60-yard interception in the same game in team history.
The punt return was the second longest of Williams career behind only a 94-yard touchdown return vs. Carolina on Nov. 18, 2007, when he scooped up a pooch punt by kicker John Kasay out of a field-goal formation. It was the longest punt return by a Packer since Will Blackmon’s 65-yarder for a score at Minnesota on Nov. 9, 2008.
On Sunday, Williams fielded Hunter Smith’s punt at the Green Bay 15 and went right up the middle before taking it down the sideline to Washington’s 33. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked on third down three plays later, but the return set up Mason Crosby’s 52-yard field goal.
“I saw some field in front of me,” Williams said. “No one was there when I caught the ball, so I was able to scan the field pretty well and pick my hole and I just went from there.”
For a moment, Williams’ interception return of a Donovan McNabb Hail Mary pass on the final play of the fourth quarter looked as though it could go for a touchdown. Williams made a leaping grab at the 3, and then took off down the sideline before weaving his way across the field with blockers ahead of him before being tripped up at the Redskins’ 33 by tackle Trent Williams.
“I had (a touchdown) in my mind the whole time,” Williams said. “You have nothing to lose really. There was no time on the clock, I caught the interception and I was gone. That was the only thing I had in my head; I was just going to go and see what happens. I did that but didn’t quite get there.”
Youth is served
With injuries to tight ends Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee as well as offensive tackle Mark Tauscher, a pair of rookies on offense stepped into prominent roles against the Redskins.
Bryan Bulaga, who had worked exclusively on the left side in the preseason and the first four games, started the first game of his career as he opened up at right tackle in place of the veteran Tauscher.
Bulaga acquitted himself fairly well in his first start, but was flagged twice for false starts, including one in overtime on the Packers’ opening drive that pushed the offense back on third down.
“Especially the late one, that one sticks out to me a little bit,” Bulaga said. “We’ll go back and watch the tape tomorrow. I can’t really assess it (his performance).
“I kind of stalled that drive out, that was kind of my responsibility. We probably were going to keep the chains moving there and that penalty brought us back. That one was on me.”
Tight end Andrew Quarless also saw his most extended action to date with Finley (knee) and Lee (shoulder) both lost for the game in the fourth quarter. He posted a career-high 51 yards receiving on four receptions, becoming the first Packers rookie tight end to record 50 yards receiving since Bubba Franks posted 54 vs. Chicago on Oct. 4, 2000.
Green Bay’s defense limited Washington to just 51 yards rushing on 21 carries (2.4 avg.), with running back Ryan Torain the leading rusher with 40 yards on 16 carries (2.5 avg.).
That extended the defense’s streak to 18 games without allowing a running back to rush for 100 yards, the longest streak since an 18-gamer by the Packers from Oct. 1, 1972 to Oct. 21, 1973. The streak of 18 games is also the longest current one in the NFL.
With as much success as the defense has had this season against opposing running backs, it has been a different story against opposing quarterbacks. Entering Sunday’s contest, the Packers had allowed signal-callers to run for 205 yards on 21 carries (9.8 avg.), the most by a team in the league this season.
On Sunday, the defense kept one of the more athletic quarterbacks in check, limiting McNabb to just 10 yards on four carries.
Washington’s long run of the afternoon was just an 8-yarder by Torain. The last time a Green Bay defense allowed a long run of 8 yards or less in a game came on Sept. 18, 2005, when Reuben Droughns’ 8-yard run was the longest of the day by Cleveland.