Senior writer jclombardi profiles WR Jones & CB Williams in Packers win.
WR Jones returns to hungry form: Packers wide receiver James Jones got some good advice from an old adviser this week. Keith Williams, Jones’ position coach at San Jose State, was blunt in his assessment of his former pupil’s play. “He said, ‘You used to play a lot hungrier than you play now,’?” said Jones, who felt miserable all week after dropping what could have been a long touchdown pass last week against Philadelphia. “When I dropped that ball, he said I was too relaxed. When I came out here, every time I lined up, I just said, ‘Be hungry. Go hungry to the ball. Catch the ball with your hands. You’ve got great hands. You’ve let a couple go, but you’ve got great hands and just made some plays.’?” Jones made plenty of plays during the Packers’ 48-21 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in an NFC divisional round playoff game Saturday night at the Georgia Dome. He finished with four receptions for 75 yards, including a beautiful 20-yard touchdown grab over Atlanta’s Brent Grimes that gave the Packers a 21-14 lead with 42 seconds remaining in the first half. Jones also had a 34-yard reception earlier in the game that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by fullback John Kuhn.
WR Jones sings redemption song: Packers fourth-year wide receiver caught four passes for 75 yards, including a spectacular 20-yard touchdown grab and a critical 34-yard catch and run, as part of the Aaron Rodgers-led offense’s passing clinic in a 48-21 NFC Divisional Playoff rout of the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. “I had a knot in my stomach for letting my teammates down when I dropped that ball,” said Jones, whose drop in last week’s 21-16 NFC Wild Card victory at Philadelphia came shortly before halftime and would have given the Packers a 21-3 lead at the time. “I just told myself to come out here and make the most of my opportunities and make a play for the ball. It made me feel good that Aaron kept coming to me. He didn’t lose any confidence in me and I was going to go out there and make some plays.” Said Rodgers: “I know he was the sickest person in that locker room after the last game. But I had confidence in him.” Rodgers had confidence in everyone on this night. Taking advantage of the absence of nickel back Brian Williams (knee), Packers receivers Greg Jennings (eight catches, 101 yards), Donald Driver (six catches, 79 yards), Jordy Nelson (eight catches, 79 yards) and Jones had their way with the Falcons’ secondary, which was forced to play little-used cornerback Chris Owens whenever the Packers went to their “Big Five” spread set. “We kind of did what we wanted to do,” Rodgers said. “We wanted to attack the middle of the field early and then once they started taking that away to work the stuff outside, the routes outside. Guys made some big plays.”
Tramon-dous Cornerback Williams leads defense to NFC title game: Tramon Williams’ job was to take away wide receiver Roddy White. Instead, he stole the entire game. Williams, the Green Bay Packers’ overnight sensation at cornerback, had two second-quarter interceptions that helped break open the game in the Packers’ 48-21 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in a divisional playoff game Saturday night at the Georgia Dome. The first pick came on a Matt Ryan pass to Michael Jenkins in the end zone that looked for an instant that it might be a touchdown. The second came on the final play of the first half when Ryan, trying to pick up a few more yards for a potential field goal try, fired a sideline pass to White that Williams intercepted and returned 70 yards for a touchdown. “That was the play of the game,” linebacker A.J. Hawk said. “No one was expecting that to happen. He jumped in front, got a pick and to score going into halftime like that (is huge). You’re up two scores, you know you’re getting the ball back and then the way the offense is playing, you can’t say enough about a play like that.” The play gave the Packers a 28-14 halftime lead and set in motion their rout of the team with the best record in the NFC. Coupled with his game-saving interception in the closing seconds of the Packers’ playoff victory over the Philadelphia Eagles the week before, Williams has essentially had his national coming-out party in the past seven days.
CB Williams bowls ’em over: Williams said, “But that’s one way to shut people up, to go to the Super Bowl instead of the Pro Bowl.” Williams intercepted two passes, one that kept a touchdown off the board, the other that he returned 70 yards for a touchdown to end the first half and break the Atlanta Falcons’ spirits, to lead the Packers to a 48-21 NFC Divisional Playoff victory over the Falcons. “Tramon Williams, he’s clearly played at a Pro Bowl level, there’s no question about it,” said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. “Just to see your big-time players step up in prime-time games, that’s what it’s all about. Tramon Williams, he’s done it all year. He’s been playing at this level all year.” His two plays Saturday night were game-turners. On his first interception, which came with the score tied at 14-14 and the Falcons facing third-and-21 from Green Bay’s 26-yard line, Williams skied to pick off Ryan’s pass intended for Mike Jenkins in the end zone. Williams went high to snare Ryan’s pass. Not only did the play keep the score tied, but the offense then went 80 yards the other way to take a 21-14 lead. The end zone was where Williams ended up on his next INT. The Falcons were moving into field-goal range when Ryan was sacked for a 9-yard loss by Clay Matthews. Facing second-and-19 at the Packers’ 35, Ryan tried to hit White on an out route in front of Williams, only to see Williams recognize the formation and play, undercut the route and pick off the pass, weaving his way 70 yards to push the lead to 28-14 as time expired in the first half. “The play of the game, in my opinion, was Tramon’s pick,” said Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who then led the offense on a touchdown drive to open the second half. “That’s a 10-point swing, potentially.”