GREEN BAY — In nine seasons with the Packers, Jordy Nelson had never played in anything quite like the conditions that hovered over Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon.
Constant flurries fell from warmups through the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans, challenging the passing game of both teams.
Nelson shook off the ice and slush piling up in his cleats with eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown that helped guide the Packers to a 21-13 win over the Houston Texans.
A bulk of that production came during the fourth quarter from a 32-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers that put the Packers ahead 14-7, and two catches of more than 20 yards on Green Bay’s next scoring series that helped the Packers pull away.
“They’re all completely different, all big plays in the game,” said Nelson, who passed Boyd Dowler for fifth in franchise history with 6,981 receiving yards. “They’re all fun. They’re all different. I’m just glad I was able to make the most of my opportunities.”
Nelson had five catches for 37 yards through the first three quarters before Texans cornerback Charles James fell down on the fourth play of the fourth quarter.
It allowed Nelson a free entry to the end zone, where he waited for what turned out to be his 10th receiving touchdown of the year. Nelson’s 32-yard touchdown catch ended a 12-play, 98-yard scoring drive, the Packers’ longest of the season.
Afterward, receiver Ty Montgomery was asked if he was surprised to see Nelson that wide open on the play, to which he laughed and replied: “Not really.”
“I’ve seen him wide open plenty of times,” Montgomery said. “When he is wide open I’m like, ‘Hey, got another one.’”
Nelson sparked the offense again on the next series in catching a 21-yard pass from Rodgers along the sideline on second-and-7 from the Green Bay 14.
The two connected again four plays later on a 28-yard completion on third-and-6 from midfield. Green Bay parlayed the big play into an Aaron Ripkowski 2-yard touchdown after Jeff Janis gained 19 yards on a reverse.
Nelson said the offense had a great sense of urgency after scoring only seven points in the first three quarters, but the key was no one trying to go outside of themselves in the late flurry.
The two series – which combined for 20 plays, 187 yards and ate 13:07 off the clock – was the perfect melody of everyone stepping up and doing their job, especially Nelson.
“Just getting into a rhythm probably,” said Nelson of what was the key to the offense’s late production. “Obviously it was a weird game with the snow. It seemed wet early but then it got sticky late. Keeping the cleats clean (was key). It was just one of those games that was a weird game, but we stuck with it. Guys stepped up and we had another big drive at the end of the game.”
The onus was on Nelson and the rest of the Packers’ playmakers to pull their weight with Rodgers dealing with a hamstring injury, though the offense didn’t change much to compensate for the quarterback’s reduced mobility.
While it took time to get into a rhythm, the Packers used a methodical 10-play, 50-yard series that was capped by Randall Cobb’s 9-yard touchdown (and subsequent snow angel).
The Packers didn’t score again on the next four series, but pulled together when the game was on the line late.
“We found a way to get a win. That’s what it’s all about,” Cobb said. “We didn’t play as well as we would’ve liked to throughout the game, but when it mattered, we were able to get the job done.”
Nelson, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, leads the offense with 69 catches for 872 yards and 10 touchdowns, ranking among the league leaders in the category.
The work isn’t over. The Packers have another tough challenge ahead of them next week when they’ll welcome the NFC West-leading Seahawks to Lambeau Field.
That’s why Nelson isn’t too concerned about how his numbers stack up at the moment. It’s about getting the next victory, beginning next Sunday against Seattle.
“I’ll reflect on that at the end of the year,” Nelson said. “It’s fun to be out there playing and making plays. I think that’s what I said you missed most is Sunday. Honestly it’s fun to practice every day. You kind of get away from that. That’s what I’m enjoying right now.
“At the end of the year, we can look back at numbers and everything else. Hopefully, we can just get a few more wins and continue.”
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