4 Downs: Martellus Bennett starting to make plays for Packers
Every week I’ll share four observations the day after the Green Bay Packers' game. Here they are after the Packers’ 35-31 victory over Dallas on Sunday:
First down: Sunday showed more of the receiver the Packers were looking for when they signed tight end Martellus Bennett in free agency. Bennett’s instincts working with quarterback Aaron Rodgers showed improvement on a 33-yard completion early in the second half. On that play, Rodgers scrambled to his right, and Bennett saw open field down the sideline so he took off with safety Byron Jones trailing. With his 6-foot-6 frame, Bennett then was able to make the lunging catch that set up a field goal. On the second play of the Packers’ game-winning drive, Bennett snared a low throw from Rodgers and turned it into a 14-yard catch and run.
Second down: Rookie running back Aaron Jones’ running alone Sunday was enough to earn him a lot of playing time and maybe a starting role starting next week. But he also appeared to function just fine in the passing game, which will help keep him on the field. As a receiver, he made what, for a running back, was a tough catch along the sidelines late in the second quarter. Rodgers scrambled to his left on the play, and Jones knew to come back to him along the sidelines and dug out the low throw. The Cowboys’ challenged that it was a reception, but the replay showed Jones kept his hand under the ball when he hit the ground. Also, on the first play of the Packers’ game-winning drive in the final 1:13, Jones showed awareness by picking up Cowboys safety Jones’ blitz off the left edge, which gave Rodgers time to make a back-shoulder throw to that side to Davante Adams for 14 yards that got the drive off to a good start.
Third down: You have to wonder if Mason Crosby’s two missed extra points Sunday will cost new long snapper Taybor Pepper his job. The Packers are a little slower on the trigger when it comes to replacing struggling specialists than some teams, but a missed extra point or field goal can lose a game. Pepper was partially responsible for at least Crosby’s second miss because of a snap that was low and off line. This was only Pepper’s second game since he replaced Brett Goode, who went on injured reserve because of a hamstring injury.
Fourth down: The Packers weren’t exactly stellar in the way they held the lead in the final 11 seconds against the Cowboys. Dallas got the ball back down four points at its own 25, so it had time for probably only two plays to get the game-winning touchdown. On the first, receiver Cole Beasley got behind the defense down the middle of the field but quarterback Dak Prescott overthrew him. Damarious Randall was trailing Beasley and appeared to be responsible for the underneath zone coverage. But rookie safety Josh Jones appeared to be late helping over the top. If Prescott’s throw had been on the money, Beasley would have caught it at the 20. He might have had a shot at scoring, but more likely would have been tackled short, giving Dallas a final throw at the end zone from inside the red zone.