Nelson sets franchise mark for road receptions
There's strong, and then there's Jordy Nelson strong.
The Packers' unflappable wide receiver was all over the field Sunday in Tampa. Zigging and zagging, Nelson set the team record for most passes caught on the road in one season.
Nelson secured nine passes for 113 yards and a touchdown in Green Bay's 20-3 victory over the Buccaneers. It was the fourth road game this season in which he hauled in at least nine passes.
Snagging receptions in remote locations can be a challenge. One often has to adjust to less-than-ideal throws from a quarterback under pressure.
Nelson adjusted on the fly more than once against the Buccaneers. Twice he went low to accept passes from Aaron Rodgers. Twice he leapt high.
Eight times he delivered first downs. Once he reached the end zone.
The performance was the latest in a series of outstanding efforts that have made Nelson one of the best in the game. He, along with the Steelers' Antonio Brown and the Broncos' Demaryius Thomas, are the only players to have caught at least 175 passes for 2,500 yards and 20 touchdowns over the past two seasons.
Nelson arrived in Tampa with 49 road receptions. His haul against the Buccaneers boosted him to 58 to break the Packers record of 56 set by Robert Brooks in 1995.
Nelson grabbed his first on Green Bay's second series. No. 87 stopped, turned upfield, then moved back toward his quarterback who was scrambling to extend the play.
The catch gave the Green Bay its initial first down. It was also Nelson's 50th road catch and his longest on the road this season at 28 yards.
Nelson matched Brooks' total with a 6-yard pickup on the final play of the third quarter. He broke the record with a leaping, 19-yard catch over cornerback Johnthan Banks to reach the Buccaneers' 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
The receiver then sat out two plays as Rodgers tried to connect with tight ends Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers on consecutive downs. Nelson returned on third down and gathered in a 1-yard pass in front of cornerback Leonard Johnson for the game's final touchdown.
Only three Packers have caught 50 or more passes on the road in a season: Sterling Sharpe, Brooks and Nelson. Nelson, who had 51 last year, joins Sharpe as the only receivers to do so more than once.
THAT '90S SHOW
Poor Eddie Lacy.
Green Bay's physical running back again came tantalizingly close to 100 yards rushing only to fall short. This time, cramps in his left calf kept him from surpassing the mark.
In two seasons, Lacy has gone over 100 yards rushing six times. That total would be nearly doubled if not for his tendency to get stuck in the 90s.
Lacy carried 17 times for 99 yards against the Buccaneers. He left the game after a 6-yard jaunt early in the fourth quarter and did not return.
Last season, Lacy had games of 99 yards (Lions) and 94 yards (Vikings). This season, he's settled in that neighborhood three times including 98 against New England and 97 at Buffalo.
Failing to close the deal has happened to the best. Jim Taylor (9) and Ryan Grant (8) head the list of Packers with the most games between 90 and 99 yards.
By finishing one yard shy of 100 in Tampa, Lacy joins Dorsey Levens as the only Packers to twice wind up at 99. Both of Levens' near-misses occurred in — you guessed it — 1999.
Green Bay outgained Tampa Bay 154 to 6 in yards in the first quarter. The Packers have more than twice the yardage of their opponents in the opening 15 minutes of games this season — 1,928 yards to 896. The 1,928 yards is a team record, far more than the previous best (1,635) assembled in 2009.
Players with 50 or more receptions on the road in one season in Packers history.