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 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 3rd-best play of the Packers' 2013 season:
Jarrett Boykin Scoops and Scores while Bears Watch
Opponent: Chicago Bears
Venue: Soldier Field
Entering this game at 7-7-1, the Packers desperately needed a win in their Week 17 showdown with the 8-7 Bears. The winner of the game would win the NFC North and earn a home playoff game the following week, while the loser would be sent home for the season. Luckily, Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb made their returns from injury during the week and were ready to play in the biggest game of the season.
The Packers gave up an early touchdown to the Bears in the first quarter, while Rodgers threw two early interceptions in his return, both deep in Bears territory. On their prior drive, the Packers scored a field goal to pull to 7-3 following a long pass to Jordy Nelson and a penalty on Shea McClellin after a third-down sack. On the ensuing kickoff, the Bears took a penalty which pinned them at their 10-yard line. The Packers' defense forced a three-and-out, and got the ball back to the offense in great field position at the Bears' 41-yard line.
The offense picked up a pair of first downs, one on a pass to James Jones and the second on a short run by James Starks. This set up a first-and-ten at the Bears' 17.
The Packers line up with four receivers and one running back in an obvious passing formation. Jarrett Boykin is lined up alone to the left, while on the right James Jones and Jordy Nelson are in the slot with Andrew Quarless split out wide. James Starks is in the backfield to the left of Rodgers, who takes the snap from the shotgun.
At the snap, the protection looks pretty good, and Starks runs a route into the flat and up the sideline. All four receivers run fairly deep routes, with Boykin going across the middle. David Bakhtiari initially guides the onrushing Julius Peppers well past Rodgers in the pocket, but stumbles and lets Peppers escape. He strips the ball from Rodgers' hand as his arm is just about to come forward, and the ball flies about 8 yards down field, landing at the feet of Bears linebacker James Anderson at about the 14-yard line. While everyone else stands around, Jarrett Boykin rushes to grab the ball, but picks it up lazily when he realizes that the pass was incomplete.
Rodgers trots over, and suddenly he and Boykin realize at the same time that the play was NOT ruled incomplete and no whistle has been blown (in fact, the linesman is hovering near the ball, carefully watching the action and acutely aware that the play is still underway). While every Bears player and 9 other Packers stand around unaware, Boykin makes a beeline for the end zone and is credited with a touchdown.
Never has a fumble by a Packers player brought such jubilation to Packers fans.
This play gave the Packers their first lead of the day at 10-7, and they would add to it and make the score 13-7 before halftime. Though the Bears would come back and take the lead back early in the second half, this play gave the Packers (and their fans) the feeling that maybe, just maybe, it would be their day. We had no idea at the time just how right that feeling would be.
This play is of course rated so highly because of the hilarity value. While 20 players stand around thinking the play is dead, Boykin and Rodgers are the only ones who realize (albeit slowly) that no whistle has blown. It was a stunning play to watch, but a fun and memorable one.