AJ Dillon helps Packers beat Rams 36-28 as Aaron Jones returns

GREEN BAY – It runs like an armored tank, plowing everything in its path, so it’s easy to forget that AJ Dillon is actually deadly. There is flesh under those shoulder pads, although his quads are built like tree trunks, big enough that everyone has their own nickname.

Quadzilla. The Quad-father. Make your choice.

Watch him run into a bunch of grown men, as he did more than once in the Green Bay Packers’ 36-28 win on Sunday over the Los Angeles Rams, and it’s remarkable to watch how much this pile is almost always pushed back. He’s a man invaded by three, four, sometimes five defenders, but strong enough, indestructible enough to fall forward.

It has reached the point that if the Packers’ offense is in a short distance situation and the number 28 is lined up in the backfield, everyone in the stadium knows who is getting the ball.

And it doesn’t matter. Dillon gets the first down anyway.

Dillon said that’s the “behavior” he’s playing with. Call it what you want. Stubbornness. To resolve. General badasserie. Dillon will not be addressed.

“For me,” Dillon said, “just a little bit in this frame of mind where, yeah, I might have had a yard gain, but you’re not tackling me. that others feed on that.

Green Bay Packers running back AJ Dillon (28) runs for a win in the second half of the 36-28 win over the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field in Green Bay on Sunday.

AJ Dillon was key to keeping the Records moving on Sunday against the Rams

Dillon’s score didn’t wow anyone Sunday afternoon against a Rams defense that came in 10th against the run. He finished with just 69 yards on his 20 carries, averaging 3.5 yards for pedestrians. But those 20 carries, plus five catches for 21 yards, was a lunchtime effort. Dillon was the bedrock of the Packers ‘offense on Sunday, a ram who continuously extended the scoring streak and kept the Rams’ defense honest.

Take the third quarter opening drive. With a 20-17 halftime lead, the Packers earned first possession in the second half and covered 75 yards on 13 games. Dillon touched the football on eight snaps, including a 5-yard touchdown to open a 27-17 lead.

THE SCORE OF THE BOX:Packers 36, Rams 28

RELATED: Aaron Rodgers helps Packers maintain grip in tie-breaker race

The Packers’ lead wasn’t reduced to single digits until the Rams hit a meaningless basket with 18 seconds left.

“The numbers don’t always tell the whole story,” Dillon said. “I can’t tell you how many times today we’ve had a first down, a second and a or a third and whatever, but those keep the engine moving or stay ahead of the chains. Obviously, four minutes away, everyone knows we’re going to run the ball, but puts us in a position to throw the ball. Anyone who knows or watches the football game, you know how important and essential they are.

“As a running back it’s great to go out there and keep those chains moving. It’s great to get the first one. It means more to me than going for a 20-yard line, whatever.

Dillon shows his strength on his touchdown

Dillon’s touchdown, his second this season, was perhaps the best example of his implausible strength.

Aaron Rodgers’ pass was thrown behind him, on Dillon’s back hip. When Dillon caught him at the 5-yard line, he had Rams linebacker Troy Reeder firmly between him and the end zone. Most tailbacks may have lost this battle before the goal line. Not Dillon.

The 250-pound murderer walked through Reeder’s arm tackle like he wasn’t even there, rocking the 6-3, 245-pound linebacker like a doll on his way to the end zone.

“Sometimes,” said Dillon, “you have to have that north and south running mentality, and sometimes that happens in the passing game. It’s something we preach all the time – catching the ball and getting up vertically, getting those yards. Aaron gave me a nice ball, introduced himself, and the rest is history.

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Dillon’s rise this season justified GM Brian Gutekunst’s decision to draft him in the second round last year. Now the question is how far the decision to take a running back when that position seemed anything but a need will pay off for the Packers.

Aaron Jones returned from an MCL sprain on Sunday, and although he started, it was Dillon’s game. Jones had three runs in the Packers’ first four snaps. Then he only carried the ball six times the rest of the course, finishing with 23 yards.

There is no doubt that Jones is a star. “Obviously,” Rodgers said, “we’re a better team when (number) 33 is out there.” Jones is one of the NFL’s main homestroke threats, capable of shattering a highlight touchdown from anywhere on the pitch.

Dillon is built like the back of the prototypical workhorse, the kind that can handle north of 20 carries each week. Dillon had 845 runs in 35 games spread over three seasons at Boston College, an astonishing average of 24 runs per game. Then he had a rookie season that was actually a red shirt year, resting his body. Now Dillon is ready to go, with no limits.

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When asked if he even felt all those hits from 25 touches on Sunday, if he was still sore, Dillon didn’t hesitate.

“Not really,” he said. “Some matches are more painful than others. I will probably feel it a little more tomorrow. I think playing in BC and my career there really prepared me for times like this. I’m used to being touched, running between tackles, and we have a great training staff here. I go there and take care of the bumps and bruises, but they do a really good job of helping us recover and having all the tools for that.

“I feel good and excited. I’m not ready to play another game at the moment, but I feel really good. ”

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) is tackled by Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) in the second quarter of their game Sunday at Lambeau Field.  Jones returned after missing a game with an MCL sprain.

Packers bye will keep Aaron Jones healthier for stretch race

The Packers will have the chance to rest this week during their end-of-season break. This will give Jones the opportunity to recover more, perhaps returning in two weeks against the Chicago Bears to something that looks like full health.

Coach Matt LaFleur said Jones was not cleared to play until Sunday. Even still, the team wanted to be careful.

“I wouldn’t say a pitch count,” said LaFleur, “but we wanted to be smart with him. He’s a big part of anything we want to try to do here.”

For the Packers to be their best, they need Jones. The same can now be said about Dillon. LaFleur said the two are indeed even on his depth chart. “It’s 1A, 1B,” he said. On Sunday, Dillon was the Packers ‘main fullback in part to limit Jones’ workload upon his return from the MCL injury.

The time may come when, depending on the match-up, Dillon could justify being the star hooker even with Jones in good health.

“I think those two guys,” said LaFleur, “are just top full backs in this league.”

Dillon showed Sunday against one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL how important a constant power play threat can be to the Packers’ offense as the weather cools and the playoff chase intensifies. .

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