During the Packers victory against the New York Giants in the Wild Card round, the veteran receiver suffered the injury while trying to make a catch on the sidelines in the second quarter.
As he tried to corral the pass, Giants cornerback Leon Hall hit Nelson in the ribs with his helmet, and Nelson went to the ground in pain. He was eventually carted off to the locker room and didn't return. It was later reported that Nelson had fractured two ribs.
Nelson finished the game with one catch for 13 yards.
The day after Packers’ victory, head coach Mike McCarthy offered a little hope that Nelson would be able to suit up against the Cowboys.
“Saturday if he can practice, he may have a chance,” McCarthy said. “If he doesn’t practice Saturday, he won’t play in the game.”
Even though Nelson is Green Bay’s top receiver, the offense clicked on all cylinders without him against the Giants. Sure, this is a huge loss for the Packers, but receivers like Randall Cobb and Davante Adams performed really well against New York’s defense.
Adams caught eight passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. Cobb finished with five receptions for 116 yards and three touchdowns, including Aaron Rodgers’ 42-yard Hail Mary to give the Packers a 14-6 lead going into halftime.
The Packers will need Adams and Cobb to step up again against Cowboys now that Rodgers’ favorite target this season is out. Nelson hauled in 97 passes for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. He missed the 2015 season due to an ACL tear in his right knee.
Jordy Nelson is out, but here’s why the Packers offense won’t falter against the Cowboys
Jordy Nelson isn’t going to play in Sunday’s NFC divisional round game, and that, of course, is bad news for the Green Bay Packers and good news for the Dallas Cowboys.
But despite the fact that Aaron Rodgers will be without his No. 1 receiver when taking on the NFC’s No. 1 team, you shouldn’t write off the Packers’ offense.
It’s on a roll — a big one — and even without Nelson, that’s going to continue Sunday.
Remember, the Packers lit up one of the NFL’s best defenses, the Giants’, without Nelson last week.
Nelson was injured with roughly 11 minutes to go in the first half of that wild card matchup at Lambeau Field last week. At the time he exited the game, with what we would later learn were two broken ribs, the Packers trailed 3-0.
Take the ridiculous Hail Mary out of it (though one could make the argument that it’s not a lucky play) — the Packers put 31 points on the NFL’s second-best defense (per Football Outsiders).
Yep, the Packers’ offense is a well-oiled machine right now.
And the Cowboys’ defense is not on the same level as the Giants’. It’s really not even close.
You can see where we’re going here.
The Cowboys’ defense might have allowed only 19 points per game this year — better than the Texans, Cardinals, Vikings, Chiefs and Steelers (all good defenses) — but they did it with smoke and mirrors.
Their pass rush is middle-of-the-pack at best, the secondary is more of the same (9 interceptions all season), and while the run defense allowed the fewest yards on the ground in the NFL this season, that was because no team faced fewer rushes than the Cowboys (340).
There’s no viable explanation behind the Cowboys’ defense giving up so few points this season, but there is an easy explanation for the Packers’ offensive resurgence: Green Bay has found offensive balance with the establishment of a run game, and Rodgers is feasting against defenses that no longer can just protect against the pass.
The only way to beat the Packers is to rush as few players as possible and get everyone back into coverage — that’s what you’re going to see from the Cowboys on Sunday. And early in the season, that tactic worked because the Packers’ top rushing threat was Rodgers.
But with the emergence of Ty Montgomery as a viable running back, the Packers offense began to click. In subsequent weeks, Christine Michael and Aaron Ripkowski have added layers to that rushing attack — and while it’s not even close to the best in the league, but it is productive enough to command respect from a defense, which Rodgers has taken full advantage of over the past seven weeks.
Nelson’s absence will be felt – make no mistake about that. He caught 45 passes over the Packers’ seven-game win streak, though he had only one catch last weekend before he was injured.
And while Green Bay will be without its top receiver, Rogers won’t lack options. Davante Adams will stay in the No. 1 receiver role he slid into last week — he had eight catches for 125 yards against the Giants, all coming after Nelson left.
Randall Cobb will remain the Packers’ No. 2 option in the passing game — he’s an established player a defense cannot sleep on for a second, lest it get burned.
But the real reason the Packers won’t slow down without Nelson is the team’s third receiver — a late bloomer who came on strong at the end of the season and could prove to be an X-factor Sunday and beyond, should the Packers advance.
If you don’t know Geronimo Allison’s name by now, you’re going to hear it a lot on Sunday.
The undrafted rookie out of Illinois caught only 12 passes for 202 yards in the regular season and one pass for 8 yards against the Giants, but when he’s been targeted, he’s been a strong, reliable option for Rogers. In Week 16, he hauled in four balls for 66 yards against the Vikings, and in Week 17 he had four catches, 91 yards, and a touchdown against the Lions.
The kid can play, and Rodgers hasn’t shown any reluctance in throwing him the ball.
So while Rogers is playing so well that he could grab two guys from the concession stands to play receiver and still complete 70 percent of his passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns, it is important for him to have options he trusts on the field. Backups don’t typically have the kind of report with the quarterback that Allison and Rodgers have shown.
Also: Adams, Cobb and Allison are much, much better than those random guys, and against a defense that, frankly, cannot be explained, they’re going to show it.
The Packers would have preferred to have Nelson in the fold Sunday — of course — but they’re not going to slow down without him.
Losing Jordy Nelson hurts the Packers, but not as much as you’d think
The Green Bay Packers made an unlikely run to the divisional playoff game, winning six straight in the regular season before beating the New York Giants in the wild-card round on Sunday.
Much of that run was driven by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who threw 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions the past seven games with a 121.7 passer rating. The Packers scored 30 or more points in five straight games — the longest streak by Green Bay since Rodgers became their full-time starter — for the first time since 2003. The last time they had six straight wins with 30 or more points in each was 1996, the year Brett Favre led Green Bay to a win in Super Bowl XXXI.
But they are going to have to do it without the services of wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who was ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys with multiple rib fractures.
Rodgers and Nelson became the most prolific quarterback-receiver combination in franchise history this season with their 58th touchdown pass and catch, surpassing Brett Favre and Antonio Freeman, and the two have been near perfect during the Packers’ “run the table” winning streak, including the playoffs, connecting on 45 of 56 targets for 607 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions since Week 12 — resulting in the highest passer rating (141.6) between a quarterback and receiver during that stretch. Rodgers’s other receiver, Davante Adams, ranked No. 2.
Rodgers struggled when Nelson missed the 2015 season with a knee injury, producing his lowest rating (92.7) as Green Bay’s starting quarterback, but he doesn’t think Nelson’s absence will be an issue.
“We’re doing a lot of different things than we were last year, a lot of things better,” Rodgers told the Associated Press on Thursday. “I think our offensive line is playing better. Our scheme has advanced, and we’re getting more contributions from the tight end at this point.
“Davante [Adams] is a legit receiver in this league, and obviously Randall Cobb, who is established as well.”
Rodgers is right, the Packers offensive line has improved. Left tackle David Bakhtiari was awarded the highest pass-block rating among tackles from the game charters at Pro Football Focus this season and right tackle Bryan Bulaga was ranked at No. 4. Center Corey Linsley, who has started the past 10 since he returned from a hamstring injury, ranked ninth at the position. Overall, Green Bay’s offensive line is allowing a sack rate of 5.5 percent this season after adjusting for down, distance and opponent, a huge improvement over last year (7.4 percent rate in 2015).
Tight end Jared Cook, who thinks Rodgers is part pocket ninja and part robot, was a huge asset the Packers passing game this season and appeared to be a ninja himself with the way he kept getting open against the Giants secondary. Per ESPN Stats and Information, Rodgers has 21 touchdowns and just one interception with Cook on the field this season.
Hobbled by an ankle injury that left Adams unable to get open consistently in 2015, it didn’t matter this season if he was open or not. According to Matt Harmon of NFL.com, Adams caught the highest percentage of targets in tight coverage — less than a yard of separation from his defender — this year (69.6 percent). The Chicago Bears’ Alshon Jeffery was second with a 60.9 percent catch rate in tight coverage.
Rodgers can also count on Cobb and his versatility. More than two-thirds of his routes during the regular season were from the slot (78.4 percent) but he showed how productive he can be anywhere on the field after catching five passes for 116 yards and three touchdowns (tying the NFL for most in a single playoff game) against the Giants in the wild-card game, which included a game-changing Hail Mary to end the first half.
“The beauty is we’ve had a lot of different guys have big games for us. It hasn’t been just one guy all season, even with Jordy out there,” Rodgers told reporters on Wednesday. “Davante’s had some big games for us, Ty’s had some big games for us, Randall’s had some big games, Jared’s had some big games. We have a lot of weapons. It’s going to, obviously, change some things if he doesn’t go, but the second half and the end of the second quarter, we didn’t have him either, and we scored a bunch of points. We’re confident.”