MINNEAPOLIS - On a chilly day in Minnesota, James Jones heated up in a hurry. And wearing a green hoodie helped the Green Bay Packers wide receiver get into a comfort zone against the Vikings.
Jones, who hadn’t had more than two catches in a game since Week 4 against San Francisco, had a team-high six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown Sunday as the Packers’ offense regained its early-season form in a 30-13 victory over the Vikings.
Jones did so wearing a green hooded sweatshirt underneath his No. 89 jersey that quickly went viral on Twitter, complete with its own, unofficial account. According to former NFL referee Mike Pereira, there was nothing illegal about wearing it.
Jones said he wasn’t trying to make a fashion statement.
“When I went out there for warmups, I was warm,” Jones said. “It’s a short-sleeve hoodie. I practice in it every day. I was like, practice how you play. It was team-issued colors, so I felt kind of swagged up out there with it. So I’m like, let me go out there and play with it. I was just hoping nobody would grab me from the back because they might treat it like (dreadlocks).”
Asked if he thought wearing a hoodie would become an NFL trend, Jones said, “Oh man, I hope not. It would be a sweet trend. If you don’t got dreads, you wear a hoodie and let it hang out the back.
"We might get some dudes playing in it now. That would be sweet.
Jones, a longtime Aaron Rodgers favorite, had a ready answer regarding why the Packers’ passing game clicked again after being dormant throughout a three-game losing streak.
“We made plays,” Jones, 31, said. “The tough catches, the tough plays we were making when we were 6-0, we weren’t making them the last couple of weeks. We made them today, the tough catches, we ran the ball well. Aaron was making some crazy throws, and we just made plays. Did what we do.”
Rodgers found Jones open in the end zone at the start of the fourth quarter, and drilled a pass past Vikings cornerback Terence Newman for the touchdown that, followed by a two-point conversion pass to Jones, gave Green Bay a commanding 27-13 lead.
“Man, when I threw my hand up, I didn’t think he was going to be able to squeeze it in the corner but I forget who’s on my team, I forget who I’m playing with sometimes,” Jones said. “He threw it so hard, so fast, Newman, he realized he couldn’t even get to it and we were able to make a play in the back of the end zone.”
Quick recovery for Crosby
A week after botching a potential game-winning field goal in an 18-16 loss to the Lions, Packers kicker Mason Crosby enjoyed one of his best days, tying a personal best with five field goals. How did Crosby manage such a quick turn-around?
“I just stuck with my process,” said Crosby, who nailed kicks of 42, 47, 40, 42 and 52 yards. “The kick against Detroit was just something that’s not me. I just went back, watched the film, cleared my mind and did what I do every week. I worked really hard this week to make sure I could have a game like this and help us win.”
Asked if he felt like his mechanics were back in sync, Crosby said, “I can’t remember a game where I felt like I hit the ball that well every time. It really felt great with how it came off my foot. The snap, the hold, the protection, everything was perfect. “
Injury toll mounts
The Packers played with only four wide receivers after ruling out Ty Montgomery (sprained ankle), and the absence of Montgomery and Jared Abbrederis (ribs) left the team short on kick returners after safety Micah Hyde suffered a hip injury in the first quarter and did not return.
Wide receiver Randall Cobb was pressed into punt-return duties, returning two for nine yards. Wide receiver Jeff Janis returned two kickoffs, bringing one out 70 yards to set up the Packers’ second field goal. Janis also drew a 50-yard pass-interference penalty on a third-and-16 play from the Green Bay 16 that kept alive a touchdown drive just before halftime.
The Packers also lost center Corey Linsley to a first-quarter right ankle injury, but former starter JC Tretter stepped in and impressed coach Mike McCarthy.
“I would say he did pretty good,” McCarthy said. “Any time you have a big injury like that, particularly to a center or a quarterback or a key position where the mechanics of the offense are directly tied to the players that handle the ball each and every play, and that's your center and quarterback, and you're able to stay with your game plan and not get out of anything. So without seeing the film, I would think he played well."
» The Packers are 10-1-1 in their last 12 games against the Vikings (including one postseason win), and are 5-1 at Minnesota. Under Mike McCarthy, the Packers are 14-4-1 (.763) in regular-season games against the Vikings.
» Rodgers entered Sunday’s game with a passer rating of 117.9 against the Vikings in 15 career games, the highest rating of any opposing quarterback against Minnesota (minimum 100 attempts). With his 86.9 passer rating Sunday, Rodgers failed to achieve a 100-plus rating for only the third time in his last 13 games against the Vikings.
» With a 14-yard catch in the second quarter, Randall Cobb extended his string of consecutive games with at least one reception to 50, which ties him with Don Hutson (1941-45) and Paul Coffman (1979-82) for sixth place in franchise history.
» The Packers (7-3) will have a short week of preparation before hosting the Bears (4-6) on Thanksgiving night. It will be the third of four straight NFC North games in a span of 19 days for the Packers. They will visit Detroit for a Dec. 3 rematch against the Lions and close the regular season at home against the Vikings. The Bears fell to the Broncos 17-15 on Sunday. In Week 1 on Sept. 13, Green Bay defeated Chicago 31-23 at Soldier Field.