GREEN BAY — Jordy Nelson isn’t usually one for celebrations.
Often times when the Packers’ veteran receiver catches a touchdown pass, Nelson will hand the ball to the referee, maybe hug a few teammates and make his way back to the sideline.
However, the typically modest Nelson took things up a few notches after the second of his two touchdown receptions in the second quarter of Sunday’s 34-27 win over Detroit.
After reaching out to pull down Aaron Rodgers’ 17-yard pass, Nelson whipped the ball into the air, pumped his arms and shared a hip bump with fellow receiver Randall Cobb and a few other teammates.
“We were just messing around,” said Nelson, who finished with six catches for 101 yards. “Coming in this week, we felt as an offense that we weren’t having enough fun. We wanted to bring some extra energy to the game.
“We’re getting to play football for a living. It’s Sunday. Might as well enjoy it and have fun with it. It’s kind of fun to act a little different than normal.”
After struggling to find its rhythm last Sunday in Minnesota, Green Bay’s offense scored on its six full possessions against the Lions with 31 points coming in the first half alone.
The big plays that the Packers had been lacking recently were prevalent early with Randall Cobb catching a 33-yard pass on the first series that ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams.
Nelson then caught a 49-yard pass from Rodgers to set up his first 8-yard touchdown pass to give Green Bay a 14-3 lead with 1:07 left in the first quarter.
Rookie Trevor Davis joined the party when he drew a 66-yard pass interference penalty on the third series, advancing the ball to the Detroit 2. Rodgers then found tight end Richard Rodgers for a touchdown on the next play.
“Anytime you get big plays, it’s a huge boost to the offense,” right guard T.J. Lang said. “We take a lot of pride in the long 17-, 18-play drives, but anytime you can bust a big play out, you could see it mentally draining the defense.
“It definitely gives you a little pep in your step to go out and finish the drive. That’s something we’ve been lacking is that big-play ability, but obviously found it today.”
As the game progressed, Eddie Lacy and the Packers’ rushing game took over. The fourth-year running back repaid Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s commitment to the running game with 17 carries for 103 yards.
Lacy broke his longest gain of 25 yards during the second-quarter series that produced Nelson’s second touchdown, but he imposed his will at the start of the second half when he rushed on four consecutive plays for 30 yards.
The Packers improved to 8-2-1 when Lacy rushes for more than 100 yards with his contributions against a stacked front helping open up the Packers’ offense.
“It helps the pass game,” Adams said. “The more he’s touting it and he’s able to scoot around out there, it just makes it easier on the receivers because now they need to worry about what Eddie’s doing.”
Sunday also marked Nelson’s first regular-season game at Lambeau Field since he sustained a season-ending knee injury in Pittsburgh during the 2015 preseason.
Nelson hasn’t had much difficulty rebuilding his chemistry in the red zone with Rodgers with four touchdown receptions in the first three games.
Coming off the loss against the Vikings, it was obvious to everyone that there was a little extra meaning on his touchdown catch before halftime for an offense looking to get its groove back.
“We talked about that before the game coming out and playing with that energy because it’s something that we all feed off of,” Cobb said. “When we see each other getting into the game like that, it builds that momentum, it builds that tempo and we were able to capitalize on it multiple times during the game.”
Green Bay’s offense didn’t have many opportunities in the second half, but successfully executed its four-minute offense to run out the clock after the Lions had cut the Packers’ lead to 34-27.
All week the Packers were peppered with questions about what was missing from an offense that ranked 29th in total yards and 31st in passing through the first two games.
Still, nobody panicked inside the locker room. On Sunday, the Packers showed why they had confidence in a turnaround.
“Everyone’s been around long enough. We know what we can do,” Nelson said. “That’s why we weren’t worried about anything this week. We just needed to execute. Sometimes we can make look very easy. Sometimes we can make it look very hard. It’s the game of football. The guys across the line from us, they’re trying just as hard as we are to do their job and be successful.
“It’s a battle, but it’s fun when we can get out there and do what we do and get into a rhythm and be productive, stay ahead of the chains, and make plays.”
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