Five highlights worth watching again
Another NFC North title and a 13-3 regular-season record — this time with a No. 1 seed. Another NFC championship game appearance — this time at home. Another MVP season for quarterback Aaron Rodgers — this time in a new decade.
The Green Bay Packers experienced great team and individual success in 2020, a season unlike any other in National Football League history.
OTAs via Zoom. Limited training camps. No preseason games. Limited or no fans in stadiums. Unrelenting COVID-19 protocols and testing.
Through it all, the Packers ultimately fell short of the goal — a berth in Super Bowl LV — in head coach Matt LaFleur’s second season. But, there were plenty of highlight-reel plays this season.
Here’s five of the best plays:
5. Davante Adams,
36-yard TD catch against San Francisco
Nov. 5: Packers 34, 49ers 17 at Levi’s Stadium
It was a much-needed fast start in Green Bay’s house of horrors.
Green Bay set the tone on their first drive, marching methodically down the field to take a 7-0 first quarter lead on a 36-yard touchdown play.
Flanked wide left, wide receiver Davante Adams was matched one-on-one with defensive back Emmanuel Moseley, who had inside leverage as Aaron Rodgers’ perfect pass arched just inside the end-zone pylon.
Adams displayed his athleticism and body control as he turned and adjusted to the ball thrown to his outside shoulder, falling in the end zone and just getting his knee down before skidding out of bounds.
4. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, 78-yard TD catch against Jacksonville
Nov. 15: Packers 24, Jaguars 20 at Lambeau Field
With one-win Jacksonville focused
on minimizing the impact of Davante Adams, another Green Bay receiver had to step up to provide an offensive spark against a an upset-minded opponent.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling did just that on an electrifying 78-yard touchdown catch-and-run for a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter. It was a simple goroute, with MVS matched up wide right with Jaguars cornerback Sidney Jones.
It was the mismatch Aaron Rodgers was looking to exploit. Valdes-Scantling beat Jones off the line and gathered Rodgers’ perfect spiral in stride at the 35yard line and cut back across the field. MVS cut back again at the Jacksonville 20-yard line, and an official inadvertently benefitted the Packers by taking out a Jaguar defender at the 15.
Valdes-Scantling outran defenders Jarrod Wilson and CJ Henderson to the left corner of the end zone. MVS had a career day when the struggling Green Bay offense needed it against a determined Jacksonville defense that contained running back Aaron Jones,.
3. Allen Lazard, 58-yard TD reception against Los Angeles
Jan. 16: Packers 32, Rams 18 at Lambeau Field
Los Angeles entered the NFC divisional playoff game with the NFL’s topranked defense. Green Bay shredded it with 484 total yards.
After two long potential touchdown passes were dropped in the third quarter, wide receiver Allen Lazard and Aaron Rodgers finally delivered the dagger leading 25-18 with 6:52 left in the game.
The play was set up by the offensive line’s dominant play, as the Packers racked up 188 yards on the ground. A play-action fake to Aaron Jones froze cornerback Troy Hill for a split second and it drew safety Jordan Fuller up a few steps toward the line of scrimmage.
That’s all Lazard needed to split past two Rams defenders on a skinny post route and snare Rodgers’ pass with outstretched all-hands at the 25-yard line and breeze into the end zone.
2. Krys Barnes’ strip of Teddy Bridgewater at the goal line against Carolina
Dec. 19: Packers 24, Panthers 16 at Lambeau Field
It was the turning point of the game and the timing had to be perfect.
Trailing 14-3 in the second quarter, the Panthers were poised at the cusp of the Green Bay end zone, a single yard away from clawing their way back into
Without star running back Christian McCaffrey, who was out with an injury, Bridgewater took matters into his own hands, attempting to leap over the goal line. Barnes had other ideas.
The unheralded free-agent rookie from UCLA timed his leap perfectly and knocked the ball loose from Bridgewater’s hands as he extended the football to break the plane.
Cornerback Kevin King rushed in from the right edge and scooped up the ball before running back Rodney Smith could react. King raced 48 yards to set up the offense for a touchdown.
It was a crucial momentum swing, as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense could only muster a 51-yard Mason Crosby field goal in the second half.
“I think our guys kind of knew what was coming there with the quarterback sneak, and that’s just great awareness...,” LaFleur said. “He did a great job punching that sucker out, and that was definitely the play of the game. The turning point of the game, you’re talking about a 14-point swing.”
While certainly not pretty, the victory was a crucial one in the race for the NFC’s top seed.
1. Aaron Jones, 77-yard TD run against Philadelphia
Dec. 6: Packers 30, Eagles 16 at Lambeau Field
This run was special, and it showcased the talents of Green Bay’s Pro Bowl running back.
The vision and burst at the line of scrimmage. The ability to break tackles on the second level. The pure speed to run away from defenders. The patience to follow his blockers and make instinctive cuts on the fly. The nose for the end zone and drive to finish.
The hard-charging Jones broke loose on his spectacular 77-yard touchdown run with 2:36 remaining to cement the victory.
Green Bay led 23-16 and the offense was simply trying to run out the clock in the one-score contest. Jones burst through the A gap and outran two diving tackle attempts at his legs by Eagles defenders as he cut toward the left sideline.
Receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling escorted Jones as he raced downfield with two Philadelphia defenders closing
in, while left tackle David Bakhtiari hustled from behind to join the fray.
At the 30-yard line, Eagles safety Rodney McLeod attempted to tackle Jones, who deftly stopped on a dime and let him fly by out of bounds. Jones then accelerated, outrunning a diving attempt by McLeod at the 20-yard line and following MVS who was blocking cornerback Michael Jacquet.
At the 5-yard line, Valdes-Scantling’s block created an alley and Jones patiently cut inside as cornerback Avonte Maddox missed a tackle from behind and Jones fell backward into the end zone.
It was a touchdown run Philadelphia defenders and coaches no doubt dreaded reliving in Monday’s film session with five missed tackles.
“If it’s up to me, I’m taking every one to the house,” said Jones, who finished with 130 yards rushing. “That’s my goal on every run. I know if I’m able to get a crease or break an arm tackle or something like that, it can turn into a big run.”