GREEN BAY—Randall Cobb always calls himself his own worst critic, and he said on Sunday he’s been hard on himself about breaking tackles and getting more yards after the catch.
Perhaps the old Cobb is back.
Turning in a season-high 121 receiving yards – just seven yards shy of his career best – Cobb was a tackle-breaking machine in the Packers’ 38-17 victory over the Panthers at Lambeau Field.
Twice Cobb took short passes, got good blocks from teammates and shook tackles for big gains. The first one became a 47-yard burst midway through the second quarter to set up the TD that put the Packers ahead 28-0. The second came early in the third quarter and went for 33 yards, immediately followed by a 21-yard TD pass to rookie Davante Adams for a 35-3 advantage.
“That’s the player that I’ve always been,” Cobb said. “I didn’t feel like earlier in the season I’ve been as dynamic as I’m supposed to be and as I expect myself to be.”
Missing 10 games last season with a broken leg might have had something to do with that. Whether it did or not, Cobb is looking more and more like the pre-injury Cobb.
Among his team-high six catches, he even added his eighth TD reception on the season, tying his career high from 2012. The Packers are still one game away from the midpoint of 2014, meaning Cobb might be on his way to challenging Sterling Sharpe’s single-season franchise record of 18 TD catches in 1994.
He’s been QB Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target in the red zone, and his TD on Sunday was in close again, from just three yards out. His Lambeau Leap celebration included a ketchup stain on his uniform.
“That was the first time I’ve ever had ketchup,” Cobb said. “I apologize to whoever’s hot dog that was. It was fresh, I know that because I had all the ketchup on me. I smelled something weird but I didn’t know what was going on. Then I got to the sideline and pointed it out on me, got me cleaned up.”
Five in end zone: Five different offensive players scored touchdowns for the Packers on Sunday, with one each by Cobb, Adams and Jordy Nelson through the air, plus one each by Eddie Lacy and James Starks on the ground.
That’s the third time in Green Bay’s last 10 regular-season games five different players have found the end zone. It happened in the big comeback in Dallas in Week 15 last season (Nelson, Starks, Lacy, Andrew Quarless, James Jones) and again two weeks ago against Minnesota, though one of them was a defender, Julius Peppers on an interception return (also Cobb, Nelson, Adams, Lacy).
“It was as fun as it looks,” said the rookie Adams, who got his second career TD on Sunday. “When you’ve got things rolling, whether it’s you or Eddie or whoever it is, it’s a lot of fun.”
Nelson had another big-play TD, a 59-yarder to open the scoring for his third long touchdown of the season. He previously had an 80-yarder and 66-yarder this year.
“I would never say it’s easy, but when you’re executing and everyone’s on the same page, you’re going to be successful,” Nelson said.
Gutting it out: Cornerback Tramon Williams has only missed one game in his eight-year career, and he’s trying to keep it that way.
Battling an ankle injury all week, Williams was able to play and start on Sunday, his 57th straight game, including playoffs, dating back to Week 2 of 2011. Even if he doubted earlier in the week he’d actually be ready to go, he takes pride in his durability, and it showed.
“I think it factored a little bit,” Williams said. “I didn’t want to swallow that pride too much and come out and hurt myself even more. I wasn’t going to come out if I couldn’t come out.
“Early in the week, I probably would have told you, no, I’m not going. Day by day it got better. Coach gave me every opportunity in the world to get it better. I’ve always been on top of my game as far as film study and game plan, so he trusted me with that, and I’m glad I didn’t disappoint him.”
He didn’t disappoint his teammates, either. He would have had the defensive play of the game, except the officials ruled he hit Panthers receiver Jerricho Cotchery a tad early on a pass that deflected to Clay Matthews for a pick-six. Williams was tested early, staying with Cotchery on a deep ball flea-flicker on Carolina’s second possession of the day.
“You can tell how much he cares about the game,” linebacker A.J. Hawk said. “I think he’s getting better with age, too, as a player. What Tramon did today, he’d never let on to anybody how bad he’s hurting.”
After the game, Williams said his ankle was sore, but nothing more than that.
“I call him Wolverine. That man is a quick healer,” safety Morgan Burnett said. “It was great having him out there, just his presence, his energy.”
Injury update: Starks left the game in the second half with an ankle injury. Cornerback Davon House also was reported to have a finger injury. COMPLETE GAME COVERAGE