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Packers Top Plays of 2016: Honorable Mentions feature Rodgers & Nelson

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Stunning individual efforts by both of these players make up the three honorable mention plays as we begin our 2016 countdown.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports

In a season filled with fascinating, incredible, and sometimes hilarious plays, we at Acme Packing Company looked back at the 2016 Green Bay Packers to determine which ones were truly the best. Over the next few days, we will reveal our countdown of the top ten plays of the 2016 season, as voted on by 13 APC contributors.

The contributors were asked to vote on what they believed to be the best overall plays of the 2016 season, based on a number of factors. Included in the analysis were impact on the season overall, impact within the game, highlight-reel spectacle, individual effort or achievement, and hilarity or ridiculousness.

Today, we unofficially kick off our Top Plays of 2016 countdown with three plays that narrowly missed the cut for the top 10.

Aaron Rodgers throws TD pass despite getting facemasked

The Packers didn’t win in week 11 when they visited Washington, thanks in large part to a defensive collapse over the final 17 minutes of the game, but it did provide one ridiculous highlight: a touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson early in the second quarter of the game that tied the score at seven.

Shortly after the snap, Washington safety Su’a Cravens burst through the middle of the line on a blitz, and looked like he was ready to bring down Rodgers for a sack. Instead, Rodgers was able to duck out of the way of the leaping Cravens, but not before taking a wicked hand to the face:

After shrugging off this facemack (which was flagged as a roughing the passer penalty), Rodgers delivered a throw to Nelson in the back of the end zone:

Although Josh Norman stripped out the football, the officials ruled that Nelson had established the catch and his position in the end zone, ending the play. The score held up after review, and the Packers would take a 10-7 lead a few minutes later.

Washington would retake the lead before the end of the half and then outscore the Packers 29-14 over the final 30 minutes, giving Green Bay its sixth defeat of the season as they fell to 4-6. It was after this game that Rodgers made his legendary “run the table” comments, and the Packers then went 6-0 the rest of the way to win the NFC North.

Rodgers jukes Xavier Rhodes out of his shoes

With the Packers up by 8 points on Christmas Eve against the Minnesota Vikings, Rodgers put together one of his more impressive scrambles of the year. It’s second and goal from the 6-yard line, and Rodgers takes the snap from the shotgun.

What follows is patently ridiculous. The Vikings get a free rusher on Rodgers, but he retreats a full 10 yards back to the 22 before curving around to the left and seeing a running lane.

His shimmy at about the 7-yard line freezes cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who flies past him as Rodgers dives over the goal line for a terrific touchdown run that gives the Packers a two-touchdown lead.

This play is all individual effort, as Rodgers is the only player who can really claim any credit. That effort and the overall impact of the play weren’t quite enough to crack our top ten, but it’s absolutely worthy of mention here.

Jordy Nelson steals a touchdown from the Colts

Like the other two plays in this article, this one features a remarkable individual effort, this time by Jordy Nelson. On the final play of the first quarter of their week 9 game against the Indianapolis Colts, the Packers were down 14-3 and faced a third and one from the Colts’ 26-yard line. After drawing Colts defensive tackle David Parry offside, Rodgers took the snap and got good protection from his line, then unloaded a deep pass to the left part of the end zone.

The pass was hardly Rodgers’ best, as it appeared that Colts cornerback Darius Butler was in perfect position to intercept the pass...

until Jordy Nelson decided he had other plans.

Here’s a more complete look at the play from the NFL’s Youtube channel to see just how absurd this catch was. It literally hits Butler’s hands while Nelson is snatching it away.

This play brought the Packers back within one possession at the time at 14-10, but they would struggle to get much going on offense until late in the fourth quarter. A furious rally included two touchdowns from Rodgers in the last 7:40, but it wasn’t enough as the Packers fell 31-26 at Lambeau.

With these plays out of the way, stay tuned Monday as we begin our Top Plays of 2016 countdown with play number 10!