Packers WR Davante Adams overcomes ankle injury to win jump ball on decisive touchdown
GREEN BAY – There was no demonstrative celebration for Davante Adams as he stood up over a prone C.J. Henderson in the end zone. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is sure his teammate wouldn’t even know, or care, that it was Henderson but it felt like retribution.
A precise route.
A jump ball and a physical ending to a 6-yard touchdown that proved to be the game-winning catch for the Green Bay Packers in a 24-20 fistfight Sunday with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“It wasn’t an easy throw based on the wind and I wasn’t trying to put it like 10 feet up in the air for him to come down on his shoulder like that,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of his high throw that Adams hauled in over the Jaguars cornerback. “But the dude’s a special player. He’s one-of-a-kind and he never ceases to grow my respect. And it’s just another chapter for him today dealing with what he was dealing with to come back out there and catch a touchdown. That’s what you want from your leaders.”
Earlier in the game, Adams had beaten Henderson off the Packers’ 2-yard line and was off to the races but after 26 yards, Henderson managed to poke the ball out and Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack recovered it at the Green Bay 32. Jack advanced it up to the 16, and the Jaguars were able to score and tie the game 17-17.
“I think (the fumble) was more self-inflicted than someone else doing it,” Valdes-Scantling said. “Davante is harder on himself more than anybody, so I think his main goal is he has to take care of the football just like everybody in our room, they have to go out there and help the team. So, he was more upset than anybody on the sideline. I think he’s hard on himself and he wanted to go out and be accountable to make a play.”
Things began to look worse for Adams on the next Packers’ possession, as he came up hobbling with an ankle injury. He was being attended to by medical staff as the Packers tried to retake the lead and was not on the field when the Packers couldn’t convert on fourth-and-3 at the Jacksonville 32.
Adams would miss the next four plays, too, as he was being evaluated in the medical tent and tested out the ankle on the sideline. On the field, Jacksonville corner Sidney Jones IV cut a route by Valdes-Scantling and intercepted Rodgers at the Jacksonville 44.
As the Jaguars were marching toward a go-ahead field goal off that turnover, Rodgers heard Adams was campaigning to get back on the field.
“Look, you might think that’s a normal thing in this game and maybe it was 10 years ago,” Rodgers said. “But you just see less and less of that happening. I think there’s more of a, ‘Oh, you know, Doc doesn’t think I can go here. Maybe I should sit out the rest of the game.’ But 17’s built different.”
He was not featured immediately, however, with the Packers moving 69 yards on six plays to set up the first-and-goal play.
The touchdown was from a run-heavy formation that head coach Matt LaFleur said was originally designed to be a shovel pass to Valdes-Scantling. Valdes-Scantling, who had a career-high 149 receiving yards on four catches, was set just off left tackle David Bakhtiari with Adams split wide left. Two tight ends were set off to the right with Aaron Jones as the single set back, but as the ball was snapped and Valdes-Scantling jetted across, Jaguars safety Jarrod Wilson bit hard down on the run action out of the end zone to about the 2-yard line.
Fellow safety Daniel Thomas, who was originally covering up Valdes-Scantling, shuffled all the way into the middle of the field.
“I wish we could get that every play,” LaFleur said of the single coverage on Adams.
That left Adams solo on Henderson. Adams slow-played the run fakes to Valdes-Scantling and eventually Jones, but when Adams cut hard back outside Henderson got caught leaning inside. The corner fell as Adams leaped for the pass, his only chance to try to knock Adams off his feet and hope the ball popped loose. It did not.
“They did a good job defending it,” LaFleur said of the Jaguars. “That's something we saw on tape, but we figured if Quez wasn't open, then we'd have Tae potentially in a one-on-one situation. And he did such a great job coming off the ball, kind of slow-playing it like it was a run and then accelerating out of that cut and Aaron gave him a nice opportunity right there with that throw and he went up and made the play.”
It was also a historic day for Adams, with his eight catches for 66 yards and a score. He now has 492 career receptions, which moved him past Hall of Famer Don Hutson (488) for fifth in franchise history.
Tyler Ervin injured
Return specialist and offensive weapon Tyler Ervin was lost to the Packers for the game in the second quarter when he took a hard shot to the ribs by Jaguars corner Sidney Jones IV while taking catching a 3-yard pass off a motion. After Jones sent Ervin airborne, Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack hit Ervin again – a to-the-whistle play that spurred Bakhtiari to run over and shove Jack.
Unfortunately for the Packers, that play ended Ervin’s day.
He had missed games against Tampa Bay and Houston with a wrist injury.
“I know this, our offense wouldn’t be as productive without him on the field,” LaFleur said last week. “And when he misses time like he did a couple games ago, it certainly left a little bit of a void in our offense. It was a little it harder to game plan, for sure. He’s a big part of what we do.”
With backup returner Darrius Shepherd inactive due to a shoulder injury, the Packers elected to have Josh Jackson return punts and a combination of Malik Taylor and Jamaal Williams back on kick returns.
Jaguars receiver makes history
Jaguars’ wide receiver and punt returner Keelan Cole Sr. made history against the Packers on Sunday, per NFL research.
According to the league, he is the first player in more than a century of opponents to score on a punt return and a reception in the same game against the Packers.
Cole had a 91-yard punt return touchdown – the longest the Packers have allowed since 1998 – and a 12-yard touchdown catch. The punt return gave his team a 10-7 lead and the reception tied the game at 17 for the visitors.