A record-threatening day for the Green Bay Packers offense Sunday was fueled by a clinic of yards-after-the-catch ability from Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley.
The overmatched and overwhelmed Washington Redskins simply couldn’t get the trio on the ground in Green Bay’s 38-20 win, and the result was the second-most total yards and a tie for the most passing yards in franchise history.
In all, Cobb, Jones and Finley contributed 227 of Aaron Rodgers’ 480 passing yards after the catch. According to ESPN, the Packers’ 283 total yards after the catch were the most from an NFL team since the start of the 2008 season. Separately, Stats, Inc. had Green Bay down for 295 yards after the catch, the second-most they’ve recorded in an NFL game since 1992.
Rodgers acknowledged his receivers’ efforts following the blowout.
“We had a lot of yards after catch today,” Rodgers said. “It was 480 yards, but how much of that was YAC?”
Jones, who put on his best Anquan Boldin impression with 11 catches for 178 yards, led the way with a team-high 90 yards after the catch. Only two players (Demaryius Thomas, Reggie Bush) have had more in a game this season.
Jones was a handful from start to finish. Rodgers went to him three times on the opening drive, four more times for 91 yards in the second quarter and then twice on the final drive of the game. By halftime, Jones had already set new career highs in both catches and receiving yards. He forced four misses tackles, and six of his catches went for first downs.
Cobb was equally as pesky. His 128 receiving yards were the byproduct of 78 yards after the catch, and like Jones, he was tough to corral for most of the afternoon.
On the Packers’ first series, Cobb turned a short pass into 17 important yards. The play made an otherwise tricky 1st-and-20 situation into a much more manageable 2nd-and-3, and Cobb would have scored had his left foot not grazed the white of the sideline.
Later in the first, Cobb found paydirt when he squirted open underneath on 4th-and-3. After the catch, he blazed through the remaining Redskins defenders untouched for a 35-yard touchdown. He finished his afternoon by creating first downs on back-to-back dump offs during the final series.
Finley continued his dominant ways in the open field by producing 59 of his 65 yards after the catch.
The Packers have always liked getting the football to Finley with room to operate, but the offense has clearly started to trend towards feeding the tight end with quick hitters in the flat. Finley’s touchdown in San Francisco was a prime example, but the numbers also tell the story: 115 of Finley’s 121 yards in 2013 have come after the catch. Against the Redskins, all seven of Finley’s targets came within five yards of the line of scrimmage.
One of the highlight plays of Sunday came on one of the quick hitters to Finley, who took a short dump off in the third quarter for 27 rumbling yards down the sidelines. At least three Redskins had a chance to make a tackle, but Finley powered through each attempt. It was an individual performance after the catch that signified the Packers dominance in the area Sunday.
Green Bay outclassed the visiting Redskins in nearly every way Sunday, including quarterback play. Rodgers finished his day 34 of 42 passing for 480 yards and four scores, while Robert Griffin III struggled against the blitz early on as Washington fell into a insurmountable hole.
But for as good as Rodgers was, the efforts of Cobb, Jones and Finley turned another day at the office for the Packers quarterback into a record-threatening performance. And while Green Bay’s knockout punch was still Rodgers’ brilliance distributing the football accurately and on-time, incessant jabs and body shots were landed by the trio of receivers that wouldn’t be tackled on this day.
Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covered prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.