2014 TOP PLAYS

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RANK­INGS

Cast a vote for the fi­nal three best plays of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

There are about 60-70 plays in the av­er­age Na­tional Foot­ball League game, so the Green Bay Pack­ers to­taled ap­prox­i­mately 1,040 plays dur­ing the 2014 reg­u­lar sea­son. For the past three weeks, Martin Hen­dricks of Packer Plus has ranked the top of­fen­sive, de­fen­sive, and spe­cial teams plays. Now it’s down to three — the best in each cat­e­gory as de­ter­mined by fan vot­ing. Visit

www.json­line.com/pack­vote to cast a fi­nal bal­lot for the best play of the 2014 reg­u­lar sea­son.

JORDY NEL­SON, 45-YARD TD CATCH vs. PA­TRI­OTS

Pack­ers 26, Pa­tri­ots 21; Nov. 30 at Lam­beau Field

The Pack­ers held a 16-14 lead in the wan­ing minute of the first half and their of­fense was driv­ing and look­ing for more against one of the AFC’s top teams.

Aron Rodgers turned to his fa­vorite tar­get on a sim­ple route de­signed to keep the chains mov­ing and sus­tain the drive. Nel­son turned it into a game-changer.

Lined up one-on-one with cor­ner­back Dar­relle Re­vis, Nel­son beat him with a sin­gle sharp cut inside and snared Rodgers’ per­fect pass in stride at the 35-yard line.

He then turned on the jets, run­ning di­ag­o­nally to­ward the left cor­ner of the end zone as free safety Devin McCourty closed in at the 2-yard line. With McCourty’s arms wrapped around his up­per body, Nel­son mus­cled the ball for­ward and hit the py­lon just be­fore his left knee touched down out of bounds.

As ESPN an­a­lyst Mike Ditka put it, Nel­son is one of the NFL’s elite re­ceivers, who just goes about his business.

“When you first look at him, you don’t want to put him in the class of Calvin John­son, un­til you see him play,” Ditka said. “He’s an un­der-the-radar kind of guy. But he has good size, great hands, and ex­cel­lent speed.

“And he’s got Aaron Rodgers throw­ing to him and they are on the same page. Nel­son is one of the best re­ceivers in the league — just look at his pro­duc­tion.”

JULIUS PEP­PERS, 49-YARD TD INT RE­TURN vs. VIK­INGS

Pack­ers 42, Vik­ings 10; Oct. 2 at Lam­beau Field

Pep­pers was at the right place at the right time mid­way through the sec­ond quar­ter against Green Bay’s bor­der ri­val on a rainy Thurs­day evening.

From his right out­side line­backer po­si­tion, Pep­pers dropped into cov­er­age and had Christian Pon­der’s pass come right to him. The ball was se­verely un­der­thrown due to pres­sure by rookie de­fen­sive end Luther Robin­son, who ap­peared to get a hand on the arm of Pon­der as he re­leased the ball.

Pep­pers, 6-foot-7, 287 pounds, then show­cased his ath­leti­cism, run­ning across the field, read­ing his blocks, and rac­ing into the south end zone to com­plete a 49-yard touch­down re­turn for a 21-0 cush­ion.

Pep­pers be­came the first NFL player in his­tory to record 100 or more sacks and 10 in­ter­cep­tions in a ca­reer. Ditka was im­pressed. “Pep­pers turned out to be a very good player for the Pack­ers. It was a wise (free-agent) pickup by Green Bay,” Ditka said. “He’s an im­pact player and an ath­lete who they could stand up or put down (on the line).

“Pep­pers and the Green Bay de­fense re­ally got bet­ter as the sea­son went on. He was a pretty darn good player in Chicago and showed he could def­i­nitely con­trib­ute and help the Pack­ers.”

MICAH HYDE, 55-YARD TD PUNT RE­TURN vs. LIONS

Pack­ers 30, Lions 20; Dec. 28 at Lam­beau Field

As a rookie, Hyde re­turned the first two punts of his fledg­ling NFL ca­reer against Detroit at Lam­beau Field for an unim­pres­sive to­tal of seven yards.

“I didn’t make a big play to­day against the Lions, but that’s what I’m try­ing to do ev­ery time I’m out there if the op­por­tu­nity arises,” Hyde said. What a dif­fer­ence a year makes. Hyde and the punt re­turn unit came up with a big play to give Green Bay a 7-0 lead with 4:49 re­main­ing in the first quar­ter of its NFC North show­down with the Lions.

It was just the boost the team’s strug­gling of­fense needed.

Hyde fielded Sam Martin's punt at his own 45-yard line and started up field. He then cut right, mak­ing Lions de­fender Jed Collins miss.

Hyde then shot up the mid­dle, veered to­ward the left side­line, and was never chal­lenged to the end zone.

“I made one cut and made a guy miss and then it opened up,” Hyde said.

“I couldn’t have done it with­out they guys block­ing, and we gave a boost to our of­fense.”

It was Hyde’s third punt re­turn for a touch­down in his two-year ca­reer, ty­ing him for the fran­chise record with Des­mond Howard and Will Black­mon.

Here’s a look back at the top Pack­ers plays in the reg­u­lar sea­son as voted by fans:

OF­FENSE

No. 1: Jordy Nel­son, 45-yard TD catch vs. Pa­tri­ots; Nov. 30 (50%)

2: Aaron Rodgers, 4-yard TD pass vs. Dol­phins; Oct. 12 (25%)

3: Ed­die Lacy, 32-yard TD catch vs. Ea­gles; Nov. 16 (12%)

4: Aaron Rodgers, 4-yard TD pass vs. Lions; Dec. 28 (9%)

5: Ran­dall Cobb, 18-yard TD catch vs. Bears; Nov. 9 (4%)

To­tal re­sponses: 533

DE­FENSE

No. 1: Julius Pep­pers, 49-yard TD INT re­turn vs. Vik­ings; Oct. 2 (57%)

2: Ha Ha Clin­ton-Dix, pass de­fensed vs. Pa­tri­ots; Nov. 30 (20%)

3: Casey Hay­ward, 82-yard TD INT re­turn vs. Bears; Nov. 9 (12%)

4: Ha Ha Clin­ton Dix, tackle of Martel­lus Ben­nett; Sept. 28 (7%)

5: Tra­mon Wil­liams, INT vs. Jets; Sept. 14 (3%)

To­tal re­sponses: 374

SPE­CIAL TEAMS

No. 1: Micah Hyde, 55-yard punt re­turn TD vs. Lions; Dec. 28 (55%);

Martin Hen­dricks’ rank: 1st 2: Micah Hyde, 75-yard punt re­turn TD vs. Ea­gles; Nov. 16 (28%); MH: 2 3: Ma­son Crosby, 55-yard field goal vs. Jets; Sept. 14 (8%); MH: 3

4: Jar­rett Boykin forced fum­ble on punt vs. Bears; Nov. 9 (5%); MH: 4

5: Tim Masthay, 58-yard punt vs. Vik­ings; Oct. 2 (3%); MH: 5

To­tal re­sponses: 310

MARK HOFF­MAN / MHOFFMAN@KJOURNALSENTINEL.COM

Pa­tri­ots free safety Devin McCourty is un­able to pre­vent Pack­ers re­ceiver Jordy Nel­son from scor­ing on Nov. 30.

RICK WOOD / RWOOD@JOUR­NALSEN­TINEL.COM

On Dec. 28 vs. the Lions, Pack­ers safety Micah Hyde re­turns a punt 55 yards for a touch­down.

RICK WOOD / RWOOD@JOUR­NALSEN­TINEL.COM

Pack­ers out­side line­backer Julius Pep­pers in­ter­cepts a pass for a touch­down on Oct.2 against the Vik­ings.

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