The Green Bay Packers' 2013 season was a year defined by injuries, but also by unique and memorable plays. Here at Acme Packing Company, we will spend the next two weeks looking back at the ten best plays of the 2013 season as voted on by our writing staff.
Each person had their own criteria for deciding which plays were the best, but we took into account how memorable the play was, how big an impact it had within a particular game and for the season overall, how impressive a display of effort or athleticism the play had, and finally any hilarity or novelty factor.
Without further ado, here is our choice for the 9th-best play of the Packers' 2013 season:
Jordy Nelson's Dash
Opponent: Minnesota Vikings
After a rough opening quarter to the 2013 season that saw the Packers lose heartbreakers at San Francisco and Cincinnati, the team rallied to win three straight games. However, during that stretch the team lost pass catchers Randall Cobb, James Jones, and Jermichael Finley as well as defensive leader Clay Matthews. Severely shorthanded and badly needing a divisional win to keep up in the NFC North, the Packers travelled to Minneapolis to take on the Vikings.
The game began unceremoniously for the Packers as rookie Cordarrelle Patterson returning the opening kickoff 109 yards to put the Vikings ahead. The Packers responded on the following drive with a score of their own. The teams traded field goals over the next quarter and a half. Facing a third-and-long situation and seeking a shot in the arm, head coach Mike McCarthy dialed up the pass.
The Packers lined up in shotgun-trips-right with fullback John Kuhn positioned on the weakside as Aaron Rodgers' personal protector. Due to the lack of healthy wideouts, Green Bay featured tight end Andrew Quarless split out by his lonesome at X receiver. On the other side of the formation from the outside in were Jarrett Boykin, Myles White, and Jordy Nelson.
Before the snap, you can see Rodgers and Nelson exchange a look. They've identified a hole in the coverage, and without signaling each other Rodgers knows Nelson is running a hot route. While all the other receivers on his side work to the sideline, Nelson darts straight ahead past the linebackers. He knows the ball's coming to him. If you look closely, from the time between the snap and the catch, Nelson never takes his eyes off of the ball.
Rodgers plays his part perfectly. After taking the snap and dropping back a step an a half, he delivers a strike to Nelson's inside shoulder, slinging the pass across linebacker Chad Greenway's earhole.
After securing the ball, Nelson immediately cuts diagonally inward. With the Vikings' defense in a single-high look, only safety Andrew Sendejo is in position to contain the play. But Nelson's change of direction freezes Sendejo, allowing the receiver to reach the outside and hit his top gear. There's no catching him at that point, and 76 yards later Nelson puts the Packers up 16-10 with an extra point to follow.
Nelson's score puts the Packers ahead for good. It also kickstarted the offense which would score on every time they had the ball save for the kneel-down possession. The offensive performance was so impressive, it appeared the Packers were in the midst of a long winning streak. Unfortunately, Rodgers' collarbone break a week later derailed that momentum, sending the Packers into a tailspin they wouldn't break out of for over a month. However, that doesn't diminish Nelson's 76-yard touchdown play which remains a wonderful illustration of the receiver's devastating speed and playmaking ability.