Cobb, Nelson Provide Special Sauce on Offense

Ketchup-covered Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson spearheaded another big day by Aaron Rodgers as the Packers extended their winning streak to four games. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY)

Randall Cobb likes ketchup on his hot dogs, thank you very much. But preferably not having it all drop onto his shoulder pads and inside his jersey.

That’s exactly what happened while Cobb was doing a Lambeau Leap in the second quarter against Carolina on Sunday. Cobb had just snared a three-yard touchdown toss from Aaron Rodgers but, as he was getting mobbed in the end zone stands, something just didn’t smell right.

“That was the first time I ever had ketchup,” Cobb laughed in recalling the play. “I apologize to whoever’s hot dog that was. It was fresh -- I know that because I got all the ketchup on it. I smelled something weird but I didn’t know what was going on. When I got to the sidelines, they pointed it out to me so they got me cleaned up. Yeah, I do like hot dogs but I didn’t expect to get one on my shoulder pads. And, yes, I do like ketchup on my hot dogs. I’ve had beer on my jersey but that’s the first time I’ve had a full hot dog.”

The affable Cobb laughed and took it all in stride. And why not? Everything else about this game went about as well as coach Mike McCarthy could possibly have scripted it. Aaron Rodgers had another phenomenal performance, completing 19 of 22 passes for 255 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 154.5. No. 12 spread the ball around to nine different receivers.

“I thought Aaron did an excellent job running the offense and that’s how the ball was distributed,” McCarthy. “Jordy (Nelson) is getting his opportunities and, with that, his production is creating more opportunities for other people with the way people view our offense and align their defense and their coverage to our perimeter groups. I thought the quarterback play was outstanding today and I thought, really, we did exactly what we wanted to do.”

For the third straight week, Cobb has been an especially effective target. That 3-yard catch - hot dog, ketchup and all - gave Cobb eight TD grabs this season, the most by a Packer through seven games since Billy Howton had nine in 1956. Cobb has caught at least one touchdown pass in six of seven games this season and has 10 touchdown catches over his last eight regular-season games.

Several weeks ago after the loss Detroit, Cobb came down especially hard on himself, saying that he had to be a bigger contributor. Right now, that seems like a distant memory. Cobb burned the Panthers with six receptions for 121 yards (20.2 yard average) with a long of 47 yards.

“I’m my biggest critic,” said Cobb. “I’ve always been my biggest critic and I’ll always be my biggest critic. Over the last three weeks, I’ve been playing a lot better than that week and I’m just continuing to do what I do at practice on a daily basis, continue to stay focused and stay locked in and these games will come. It was a big game for us. Everybody got involved and we were able to move the ball really well. Just drive after drive we were able to capitalize and put points on the board. At the end of the day, that’s the kind of offense we need to continue to be. We ran the ball well, we passed the ball well and everything was open for us.”

“Randall always will be hard on himself,” said Nelson. “He’ll probably be hard on himself for today because he’ll find something on the film. But it was a big game for him, one of those big explosive games running after the catch, breaking tackles and making guys miss to get into the end zone. He executed and did his part and he also had a big block on (James) Starks’ touchdown run.”

Busting loose for big yards after the catch have always been a critical part of Cobb’s game and it’s something he’s been putting extra emphasis on this season. After a slow start in that regard, Cobb broke loose a couple of times. By Packer Report’s count, 85 of his yards came after the catch.

“That’s one thing that I’ve been on myself over the last few weeks and continuing to get better at that, breaking tackles,” said Cobb. “That’s the player that I’ve always been and being as dynamic a player as I expect myself to be. To be able to come out and have a game like this is definitely something that I hope to continue moving forward. I’m going to continue to work on these things daily and continue to be able to break tackles like I did today.”

Both Cobb and Nelson were quick to point out that when it comes to making the Packers offense go, it all starts with Rodgers. His instincts at the line of scrimmage, diagnosing the defense and then making the most of what that defense is willing to concede have made him one of the game’s elite – if not the elite – quarterback.

“One thing that he does great is reading the defense,” Cobb explained. “He takes what the defense gives him and, when you do that, you’ve got guys everywhere that can make plays and it makes a big difference. As long as we have guys continuing to produce the way we’ve been able to produce and guys continue to get open, we’ll keep spreading the ball around the way we do.”

Nelson torched the Panthers secondary for a 59-yard scoring strike in the first quarter. Nelson has caught a TD pass in four straight games, a career high. It’s the longest streak by a Packer since Cobb’s four-gamer in 2012. Nelson also made a mark in the Packers record books with four catches to bring his career total to 349 and moving past Max McGee to No. 9 in Packer history.

“It’s an honor,” said Nelson when he was told about passing McGee on the all-time receiving list. “We’ve talked about when you start setting records or get into the record book here, no matter what position it is, it’s an honor to be part of that history. Hopefully, things can continue across the board and everyone will be able to look back at the end of their careers and see where they stand. It’s an honor to be part of that history. Being amongst those guys is fun but hopefully there’s more to come.”

Besides his contributions to Green Bay’s passing attack, Cobb says he enjoys being in the special teams mix returning punts. His 24-yard return in the second quarter was the Packers’ longest this season.

“I love playing football and, like I said after I got injured last year, it definitely re-lit a fire underneath me and my passion for the game,” said Cobb. “As long as I’m healthy and as long as the coaching staff feels that I can go out there do those things, I will continue doing them as much as I can.”

Even if he has to weather a hot dog and ketchup splash after he gets into the end zone.


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