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Why It Worked, Week 8: Trevor Davis' punt return sets up a Packers touchdown

Welcome to the first edition of Why It Worked, wherein we look at how Green Bay actually had a successful punt return! Finally!

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Special Teams in football is like commuting to and from work. It's necessary, typically boring, and often follows a routine with very little thought put into it.  Missing the bus is like missing a PAT.  Driving in traffic is like watching a punt fest - you probably wish you were sleeping instead.

There's respite from the slog, I assure you.  Driving home from work on a warm, sunny Friday afternoon when your favorite sing-along song comes on the radio; that's the feeling Trevor Davis gave me - for about ten seconds - on Sunday.

Up by 1 in the second quarter, the Packers defense made one of their few stops of the day on 3rd down at the Atlanta 21, forcing the Falcons to punt.  The Green Bay punt return squad trots onto the field, lining up in a return formation.

The return formation is demarcated by having two defenders on the far gunner, and having the interior rushers in a two-point stance.  Had this been a punt block attempt, you would likely see only one defender (if any) on the gunners.  Similarly, the interior rushers would be in a three point stance in order to fire off the ball quickly and get penetration.

On the snap of the ball, the far (left) sided gunner, in order to beat the press of LaDarius Gunter, took an inside release and continued his path across the field to the near (right) side.  The up-back to that side, in this case Falcons FB Patrick DiMarco, then fills the gunner's original lane.  His responsibility is outside contain; that is, to not let the returner beat him to the nearest sideline.  You'll see shortly that DiMarco accomplishes this duty to a hilarious extent with the help of Joe Thomas.  The Packers often do something similar, but instead send their gunner in a pre-snap lateral motion to beat the press.

When the ball connects with Matt Bosher's foot, the Falcons are in a decent starting position.  In the next photo, you'll see 4 players heading towards their right side of the field, one going up the middle, and 3 that should be going to their left side of the field.  I didn't count the gunners, as they do not have the responsibility to fill any particular lane.

The Falcon players who were supposed to fill the lanes on the left side never got over there.  This led to there being 7 Falcons on the right side of the field, with only 3 players and the punter on the left side to defend the punt.  That's an awful lot of green grass for a guy who runs faster than my '86 Chevy.

Davis sees the open lane immediately and does not hesitate to hit it hard.  He's in that Friday afternoon happy place; windows down, tunes on, and he's just cruising.  And for those ten seconds, Packer fans were cruising right along with him.