Aaron Rodgers in 2019. Aaron Jones in 2020. Marcedes Lewis in 2021. Now Jones again in 2022. For the fourth straight year, a lost fumble helped end the season of the Green Bay Packers.
Matt LaFleur’s team keeps fumbling away opportunities in big games.
In the NFC Championship Game in 2019, Rodgers and center Corey Linsley botched a snap down 17-0 with the Packers driving for points in the first half against the 49ers.
In the NFC Championship Game in 2020, Jones lost a fumble deep in Green Bay territory on the first possession of the second half with the Packers down 21-10 to the Buccaneers.
In the NFC Divisional Round in 2021, Lewis lost a fumble in the first half with the Packers up 7-0 over the 49ers and driving for more.
Jones added to the misery on Sunday night against the Detroit Lions.
The Packers running back fumbled at the end of a catch inside the Lions’ 30-yard line with Green Bay up 9-3 and marching for a bigger lead before the half. Detroit recovered the fumble, drove for a field goal as time expired in the second quarter and turned the second half into a dogfight.
Going up 12-3 or 16-3 would have completely changed the complexion of the game entering halftime. Instead, Jones turned the ball over and the Packers went into the break up 9-6.
In 2019 and 2020, lost fumbles turned big deficits into bigger deficits. This year’s fumble by Jones was reminiscent of Lewis’ turnover last January. Both plays killed momentum and let the opponent back into the game, changing the course of both contests.
The fumble was Jones’ fifth of the season, a new career-high. He rushed for a career-high 1,121 yards in 2022, but he also lost three fumbles.
As was the case in 2020, the future of Jones is uncertain entering the offseason. Although he’s under contract, his cap number balloons to $20 million in 2023, and there’s a $7 million roster bonus due in March.
Jones, a fifth-round pick in 2017, ranks third in team history in rushing yards (5,284) and fourth in rushing touchdowns (43). He turned 28 in December.