Acme Packing Company's rundown of the Green Bay Packers' top plays from 2015 continues with the second entry by rookie cornerback Damarious Randall. While his earlier appearance on our list came late in the season, Randall made his biggest contribution in just his sixth NFL game.
Though they never trailed, the Packers saw the San Diego Chargers slash a 14-point lead to a single score behind a vintage performance by quarterback Philip Rivers. With just over two minutes remaining, Rivers and his offense regained possession with the chance to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Rivers put on a show during his final drive. Playing without top receiver Keenan Allen and a significant portion of his starting offensive line, the veteran signal-caller sliced through the Green Bay defense one double-digit-yard gain at a time. The Chargers didn't face a third down until they moved inside the Packers' 5-yard line.
On second-and-goal, the Chargers lined up three wideouts to the left of the formation with tight end Antonio Gates positioned just off the right tackle. Do-everything tailback Danny Woodhead set up next to Rivers in the shotgun. On the play, Gates jets towards the back-right corner of the end zone with Woodhead trailing in the flat. Rivers attempts to hit his tight end for the game-tying touchdown, but Micah Hyde and Damarious Randall have him blanketed.
Though unsuccessful, the Chargers notice that the Green Bay defense left Woodhead open in the flat, a fact they would try to exploit two plays later.
On the game-deciding play, the Chargers line up exactly as they did on second down. The receivers run the same routes with Gates, now serving as a decoy, clearing the flat for Woodhead. The Packers reveal the same defensive look as before, with Hyde and Randall charged with covering the right side of the field. If they defend the play as they did on second down, nothing short of an off-target pass or dropped reception can prevent a San Diego touchdown.
But while the Chargers have adjusted their approach, so has Randall. Recognizing that Woodhead could walk in if left unattended, the rookie corner breaks on Rivers' throw as soon as the quarterback begins his delivery. A moment later, Randall breaks up the pass and ends the game.
The pass breakup turns the ball over on downs and allows Aaron Rodgers to kneel out the clock, securing a 6-0 record for the Packers as they hit the bye week. Randall's playing time, which fluctuated during his first six games, became steadier during the second half of the year after earning the trust of the defensive coaching staff.
10. Damarious Randall recovers the onside kick/picks off Cam Newton
9. James Jones beats Josh Norman deep on fourth down
8. Randall Cobb's one-handed lung-buster
7. Aaron Rodgers clowns the 49ers defense
6. Jayrone Elliott seals the deal against Seattle
5. Micah Hyde's backhanded interception