Raise your hand if you honestly predicted that Bo Melton would be the Green Bay Packers’ first 100-yard receiver this season. Now put it down, because you’re a liar. Still, that’s what happened on Sunday as the Packers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 33-10, in part because of Melton’s career day.
A 7th-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks in 2022, Melton spent most of his rookie year on the practice squad before being released late in the season; the Packers picked him up on their own squad then and kept him around through the offseason, giving him a practice squad slot again for 2023. Sunday was his fourth NFL game, all with the Packers over the past two months, and in the three prior games he had recorded 8 targets, five catches, and 51 yards — all in the past two games.
But in week 17, he was the breakout star of the game for the Packers, leading the team in targets and receiving yards. Melton’s six-catch, 105-yard game was largely due to a trio of injuries to other Packers receivers, with two players ruled out prior to the game and rookie Jayden Reed leaving the game just before halftime. But however it happened, the Rutgers product has made a strong statement that he can be a productive member of the Packers’ wide receiver room, and the coaching staff will be hard-pressed to not give him more snaps moving forward, even when his position group is at full strength.
Melton’s emergence is the big story from the snap count and stats breakdown of Sunday’s game, but here are the full numbers and results from the Packers’ blowout win.
OFFENSE (74 total snaps)
Jordan Love 66, Sean Clifford 8
In what may have been Love’s finest performance of the season, he carved up the Vikings’ defense with a skeleton crew of receivers. Love averaged 7.8 yards per attempt and finished with a passer rating of 125.3, two-tenths of a point off his high-water mark from Thanksgiving Day. He added a rushing touchdown and also was not sacked at all, just the third time all season that has happened.
With the Packers up big, Clifford came on to hand the ball off a few times, but he delivered a rainbow on the first pass attempt of his career, hitting a wide-open Bo Melton for 37 yards and the game-icing first down.
Aaron Jones 42, Patrick Taylor 20, AJ Dillon 12
A second straight 120-yard rushing game from Jones has him firmly back on the map as a dynamic (and healthy) playmaker heading into an offseason of question marks. Can the Packers afford to keep him around on the final year of his contract with a cap hit of over $17 million? That seems highly unlikely, but so does extending him out beyond his age-30 season. Jones added one reception for 10 yards.
Dillon carried the ball seven times for 27 yards on his 12 snaps with a mix of success, but his injured thumb still appears to be bothering and limiting him significantly. That led to Taylor getting the bulk of the work in late-game and two-minute scenarios. Taylor got 8 carries for 30 yards in the game.
Romeo Doubs 56, Bo Melton 49, Malik Heath 46, Jayden Reed 23, Samori Touré 9
With no Christian Watson or Dontayvion Wicks, the Packers got Reed the ball early and often in the first half, as he saw eight targets in the first 30 minutes — that was good for a target every three snaps. He delivered on them as well, catching six of those passes for 89 yards and two great touchdowns.
But with Reed injured and not playing after halftime, that led the Packers to use a heavy dose of 12 personnel, as well as getting Melton and Heath a ton of action in the second half. Melton and Doubs each saw four targets in the first half — with Melton catching two for 40 yards — but he exploded in the second half with another four catches on five targets for 65 yards and a touchdown. In doing so, he became the Packers’ first 100-yard receiver of the year in a game that saw him activated from the practice squad.
Doubs had a quiet game overall with three catches on six targets for 28 yards, while Heath caught one of two balls for 13. Touré caught his only target for a loss of six yards and committed a cardinal sin, muffing a punt when on the field as the return man in relief of Reed.
Tucker Kraft 61, Ben Sims 41, Josiah Deguara 11
Kraft continues to be a YAC monster. He caught all six of his targets for 48 yards, with 39 of those yards coming after the catch. that gave him four straight games with more than 30 YAC and he has at least 25 YAC in six of the last seven.
Sims’ playing time was likely due to the Packers running the ball heavily in the second half as well as Reed’s injury. Both of those factors probably led to more 12 personnel, and Sims played the role of blocking tight end — and is doing so solidly. Deguara also got a handful of snaps as an H-back/fullback as usual.
Rasheed Walker 74, Josh Myers 71, Zach Tom 66, Elgton Jenkins 62, Jon Runyan 42, Sean Rhyan 39, Royce Newman 8, Yosh Nijman 8
The offensive line rotation continued at right guard, with Runyan and Rhyan splitting reps almost equally. That may come in handy this week if Runyan moves over to play center with Josh Myers picking up an injury late in the game. Nijman’s and Newman’s only snaps came with the backups on the field, in place of Jenkins and Tom, respectively.
All told, though, the line did a marvelous job of keeping Love upright and opening up running lanes for Jones in perhaps its most complete performance of the season.
DEFENSE (53 total plays)
Kenny Clark 43, Devonte Wyatt 29, T.J. Slaton 17, Karl Brooks 14, Colby Wooden 10
The Packers’ front was dominant on Sunday night, getting pressure and keeping any running lanes to a minimum. Wyatt in particular showed up with some nice reps rushing the passer, getting a half-sack and two QB hits. Wooden added his first half-sack as a pro, while Brooks was on the spot to recover a fumble. That says nothing of Clark and Slaton, who each were excellent clogging up the run game in the middle.
Rashan Gary 34, Preston Smith 29, Kingsley Enagbare 24, Lukas Van Ness 19
And while the interior line was doing its job, Preston Smith looked like he found the fountain of youth. He stripped the football out of rookie QB Jaren Hall for a sack and had a total of three QB hits, embarrassing left tackle Christian Darrisaw all game long. Gary did not land a sack, but had a pair of hits of his own, while Enagbare added one as well.
Quay Walker 53, Eric Wilson 37, Isaiah McDuffie 15
The Packers even got 1.5 sacks from their inside linebackers, as the team brought Walker on blitzes frequently. He had a solo sack and two hits, while McDuffie had a half-sack on a play that saw three Packers arrive at the QB simultaneously; unfortunately, McDuffie was in the middle of that hit and took the worst of it, apparently suffering a concussion that brought Wilson on for the remainder of the game.
Jonathan Owens 53, Darnell Savage 53, Anthony Johnson, Jr. 2
Rudy Ford is officially back to being a special teams-only player, with Owens now firmly planted in a starting job and Johnson getting dime snaps. The safeties didn’t have a ton of tackles to make with Minnesota not throwing deep much, but Owens did have a good pass breakup.
Corey Ballentine 53, Carrington Valentine 53, Keisean Nixon 45
Where the Packers’ secondary shined was in coverage on Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison, who combined for 8 catches on 15 targets for 87 yards and no touchdowns. Ballentine had his best game as a pro, bringing in a tipped ball for an interception but also breaking up two other passes. Meanwhile, Nixon was everywhere, making 11 total tackles and registering a half-sack and a pass breakup of his own.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Kristian Welch 18, Eric Wilson 17, Zayne Anderson 13, Anders Carlson 13, Deguara 13, Rudy Ford 12, Owens 12, Robert Rochell 12, Kraft 11, Taylor 11