Not too long ago, the red zone was a problem for the Green Bay Packers' offense. With and without Aaron Rodgers last season, the offense too often sputtered inside the 20.
Their last possession of the season ended with a chip-shot field goal against San Francisco. Not a touchdown.
This season, wide receiver Randall Cobb has completely reversed that trend.
In Green Bay's breezy 38-17 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, the former University of Kentucky star caught his eighth touchdown of the season.
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Again, he did his damage in tight quarters, where the 5-foot-10, 192-pounder can juke, re-juke and find soft spots in coverage. Seven of Cobb's eight touchdown receptions this season have come inside the 10-yard line.
On Sunday, Cobb scored on a designed rollout. Rodgers sprinted right and Cobb — with a little help from Jordy Nelson breaking inside on a pseudo pick — got a step on Charles Godfrey for a 3-yard score that put the Packers up 28-0.
He leapt into the crowd and was treated with ketchup all over his right shoulder.
"I've had beer — I could smell beer on my jersey," Cobb told the Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee. "But that's the first time I had a hot dog. I think it fell in between my lap too, because I had ketchup inside my pants. So I had a lot of ketchup on me."
Whether it's broken plays, scramble drills or strategic routes with Nelson, Cobb keeps getting open where it matters most.
"I want more," Cobb told the Journal Sentinel. "I'm more hungry than I've ever been. It's not enough for me. I feel like my ceiling's a lot higher and I want to keep reaching for that ceiling."
Cobb finished with 121 yards on six receptions, including one 47-yarder. His bursts burnt Carolina often in this one. As an offense, the Packers spread the ball around — nine players were on the other end of Rodgers' 19 completions. Cobb, however, did the most damage. It was a long day for Godfrey and the Panthers secondary.
"Just finding a way to get open," Cobb said of his TD, "finding a way to beat my man or find a zone and being able to sit in a zone and make plays.
"I wouldn't say it's more opportunities. It's just the play-calling and the situation and we're able to make it happen."
Cobb said you could argue that this is the best Rodgers has been, too. The quarterback has 18 touchdowns to only one interception, which was off a receiver's hands at that. The fourth-year receiver said Rodgers expects a lot of himself "and he delivers." Cobb's work inside the 10 has been a big reason for these numbers.
The season isn't even half over and Cobb has already tied his 2012 touchdown total.
"I never view life as peaking," Cobb said. "I always try to consistently climb that mountain. I don't want to peak this season. I just want to be consistent as I can be, and hopefully I can continue to have these games."
Williamson recovers fumble
Titans rookie linebacker Avery Williamson came up with his second turnover in two weeks during Sunday's loss to Washington.
"The guys put good pressure on the quarterback and he ended up tossing the ball up because of Derrick Morgan," the former Kentucky star told The Tennessean of Nashville. "I was just in the right place at the right time and kept my eyes on the ball."
Williamson recovered a fumble against Jacksonville last week, returning it 41 yards.
"It's good that I keep making plays," Williamson said, "but it's kind of overshadowed when we come out and can't finish the games like this."
Williamson also had five tackles (three solo).
■ Fellow ex-Cat Wesley Woodyard added seven tackles and an interception. The Titans scored a TD on their ensuing possession to take a 10-6 lead at halftime.
"To me, I think the biggest thing is just trying to put my team in a good position. Making plays where I'm supposed to make plays, and our offense was able to get points off it."
Woodyard said the team will learn from its mistakes Sunday against the Redskins.
"We put ourselves in position to win football games," he said. "We just gotta learn how to close them."
■ George Wilson (Paducah Tilghman) had three solo tackles for the Titans.
Bridgewater's first TD
Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw his first career TD pass in his third career start.
He was 15 for 26 for 157 yards and a 4-yard touchdown to Cordarrelle Patterson and two interceptions in a 17-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
"I was overthinking things," the former University of Louisville star said. "But as the game went on, we found some consistency. There are going to be areas I can improve on to get the ball down the field and eliminate my negative plays."
■ Rookie linebacker Preston Brown (U of L) had seven tackles — five solo and one for a loss — for Buffalo.
Dumervil steps up
Former Louisville defensive standout Elvis Dumervil had two quarterback sacks and a fumble recovery in the Baltimore Ravens' 29-7 win at home against the Atlanta Falcons. He has seven sacks this season.
■ Defensive tackle Corey Peters (UK) made three solo tackles for Atlanta.