We at APC continue on with our Top Plays countdown from the Green Bay Packers’ 2015 season. Today, we find the first play on our list that comes out of one of the Packers’ two playoff games. Although this play ultimately had a negative impact on the game for Green Bay due to an injury and a penalty, it remains one of the most impressive individual efforts of any snap all season long.
The Packers entered their Divisional Round playoff game with the Cardinals down to just four receivers on the active roster. Jordy Nelson had been lost to a torn ACL in the preseason, but Davante Adams injured his MCL the week before against Washington and was out for the game. That left just Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jared Abbrederis, and Jeff Janis as the receiving corps.
Green Bay’s defense held tough through most of the first quarter, but the Cardinals were able to dink and dunk their way across the field after gaining good field position after a Packers three-and-out. Narrowly avoiding disaster after Nick Perry strip-sacked Carson Palmer (with the quarterback recovering), Arizona went up 7-0 on a touchdown pass to Michael Floyd.
The two teams then traded three-and-outs before Green Bay’s offense finally got into gear a bit thanks to a jolt from James Starks. At their own 46-yard line, Green Bay set up with a third and five and about 43 seconds left on the first-quarter clock.
Aaron Rodgers dropped back to pass, and the Cardinals were unable to get any significant pressure on the quarterback early. This allowed Cobb to extend his route down the field with cornerback Justin Bethel in pursuit.
Rodgers uncorked one of his “pure-arm” throws, falling a bit to his left and heaving the football deep along the left sideline. Cobb was able to reach out with his left hand and make a ridiculous falling catch, cradling the ball in that arm and eventually bringing his right arm over to secure it.
Look at the ball placement in the slow-motion replay. That is an incredible throw when the quarterback’s mechanics are flawless, and even more ridiculous when looking at how Rodgers sets up. And then there’s the catch - Cobb slows the ball down with his left hand, brings it into the crook of his arm, and secures the catch. All around, this is a magnificent play. But...
As you can see, there was a flag thrown on the play. In fact, there were three penalties on this snap alone - two on Arizona - but because one of them was called on the Packers (an illegal shift on right tackle Bryan Bulaga), the fouls offset each other and the down was repeated.
That just adds insult to injury, as Cobb’s hard landing ended up driving the battery pack from his on-field mic into his ribcage, and he came up coughing blood. It turned out that Cobb had a punctured lung and was forced to miss the rest of the game. That injury forced the Packers to use the trio of Jones, Abbrederis, and Janis as their only receivers the rest of the way.
On the replayed down, Rodgers did complete a pass to Abbrederis for a first down, and the drive ended up resulting in a Mason Crosby field goal to put the Packers on the board and make the score 7-3 in favor of Arizona. Instead of the play’s impact on the game, it was the truly incredible individual effort by Cobb combined with a picture-perfect throw from Rodgers that make this play memorable.