All this week, Acme Packing Company will be going through the ten best plays of the Green Bay Packers’ 2015 season, as voted upon by our writing staff. Each person may have used different criteria for voting, but the common themes are similar: impact on the game or season, impressive individual effort, “wow factor,” or other qualities.
Our pick for the ninth-best play for the Packers in 2015 took place in week nine, with the Green Bay Packers playing the Carolina Panthers on the road.
The Packers were down 37-14 with about 10 minutes left in the game and Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were desperately trying to get back into the game and hope to extend it into overtime. Rodgers hit James Starks for a 29 yard touchdown pass and then got a two-point conversion to make it 37-22. After a great defensive stand with a three and out, the Packers looked to cut into the lead again but the drive stalled at the Green Bay 44 to bring up a 4th and 14 with 5:05 to go.
The Packers come to the line in a 2x2 set with James Jones and Randall Cobb on the field side and Davante Adams and Richard Rogers on the boundry side. The Panthers showed four defensive linemen, Kony Ealy was a standup end outside out Richard Rodgers, with middle linebacker Luke Kuechly showing blitz up the middle.
At the snap the Panthers brought the blitz but it was Thomas Davis putting on the pressure with Kuechly playing a spy on Aaron Rodgers over the middle. The Packers countered with Adams running a vertical route, Richard Rodgers running a shallow drag, Cobb running the slant and Jones running the post.
The Panthers defensive line did their job and occupied the left side of the Packers offensive line, which let Davis run through untouched on the blitz. Aaron Rodgers spins away from Davis and scrambles to the field side. As he scrambles he sees the Panthers are in Cover One and that his best option for a first down would be to test All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman who is covering James Jones.
James Jones runs his post with Norman covering loosely on his outside hip. Once Jones realizes Rodgers is scrambling, he breaks off his route in the scramble drill. Norman sticks to Jones like glue and Rodgers tosses a high pass for Jones who is able to out jump Norman and secure the catch for a 36-yard gain. The pass looks to go right through the hands of Norman and Jones keeps his concentration and makes the grab.
Here’s the full play:
The James Jones reception kept the drive alive and the Packers in the game. The Packers followed with a 17-yard pass play to James Starks and followed it with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Richard Rodgers. The Packers cut the lead to 37-29 and had hope with just 3:43 to go.
Unfortunately, the Packers couldn’t capitalize on a Cam Newton interception (see play #10) and the game ended at 37-29. While the outcome of the game wasn’t what Packers fans were looking for, the James Jones catch showed the Packers would fight to the end of each game and put other teams on notice that the Packers will play to the very end no matter the score.