Packers rookie Cobb thrives under bright lights

Posted Nov. 15, 2011 @ 3:52 a.m.
Posted By Arthur Arkush

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Packers are rewriting the record books on a weekly basis.

They continued their flirtation with perfection on Monday night, advancing to 9-0 by dismantling the overmatched Vikings 45-7. QB Aaron Rodgers tossed four more TDs, surpassing Brett Favre's previous record of two passing TDs in eight consecutive games. The Green Bay offense put up at least 24 points for the ninth straight game (heck, they nearly doubled that total), also a new high-water mark for the Pack. And rookie WR Randall Cobb, whose coming-out party under the prime-time lights in Week One included a 108-yard kickoff return (and a 32-yard TD catch), reminded us that prime time is his time, becoming the first Packers rookie to return both a punt and a kickoff for TDs in a season.

If you blinked at the start of the game, you might have missed Cobb's fireworks. Green Bay won the toss and deferred, quickly forcing a Vikings three-and-out. It was all part of the Packers' master plan, of course, as Cobb took the ensuing Chris Kluwe punt 80 yards to the house, making one Viking whiff and exploding into daylight to give his team the early advantage.

The Vikings hung around — sort of — in the first half, trailing by 17 points at halftime. But Cobb set the tone for the evening, greasing the wheels of the Packers' offensive machine. For a rookie wide receiver playing on a club with as many proven playmakers as the Packers, Cobb is doing his best not to get left behind. With Rodgers' transcendent play each week, it is almost unfair that he has an X-factor like Cobb to help make his life easier.

"That's my job right now. ... Playing on a team like this, of this caliber, you have to know your role — what your job is," Cobb said after the game. "My job is in the return game, making sure I'm putting the offense in the best position possible to be successful."

After setting the Packers up early, Cobb actually put them in their worst position of the evening early in the second half. He muffed a punt deep in Green Bay territory, with the Vikings recovering and scoring their lone TD just two plays later. But as CB Charles Woodson explained after the game, instead of hanging his head like a lot of rookies would, Cobb proved just how special he is. Immediately following Minnesota's TD, Cobb took the ensuing kickoff 55 yards down the left sideline, barely missing out on his second score of the night. Five plays later, Rodgers threw his third TD of the game to FB John Kuhn, extending the lead to 31-7, and it was lights-out for the Vikings.

"I was pissed off," Cobb said of his muffed punt. "Just anxious to get back out there and make something happen."

Rodgers' continued brilliance and the Packers' embattled secondary's stifling of rookie QB Christian Ponder likely will dominate the headlines, but Cobb's second exhilarating prime-time performance is a small glimpse of much greater things to come. The rookie is only going to get better, more involved in the offense as he gets more chances.

For now, though, he is content just relishing his job on special teams, particularly on the big stage.

"I guess when the lights go on, my tempo, my game speed goes up," he said of his prime-time excellence.

Scary to think the Packers' tempo has another gear.