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Packers Top Plays of 2016, No. 5: Just run around until someone gets open

Aaron Rodgers holds the ball...and holds the ball...and holds the ball...

Wild Card Round - New York Giants v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

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.

Acme Packing Company's rundown of the Green Bay Packers' top plays from 2017 ramps up with another instance of Aaron holding the ball, and holding the ball, and holding the ball, and holding the ball, and holdi...

The Situation

In the second quarter of the Wild Card Game the Packers trailed the Giants 6-0 with 2:32 left on the clock. On the Previous Giant drive the Packer defense managed to bury New York in their own territory, and an awful 37-yard punt by Brad Wing, and a nice return by Micah Hyde had the Packers sitting pretty, and it took only 2 plays, including a 31-yard strike to Adams, to move the Packers down to the 5 yard line. On second and goal, Rodgers took the snap and basically reenacted a scene from Jackie Chan’s Legend of the Drunken Master.

The Play

You can watch the entire play here.

The Giants were weak against tight ends all year, and this close to the end zone the Packers come out with an odd formation designed to exploit that weakness. Richard Rodgers and Jared Cook split out wide with Rodgers at the top of the formation, drawing Eli Apple, while Cook was split left. Adams is slot left, covered by corner Coty Sensabaugh while Cobb is slot right, with Ty Montgomery in the backfield.

The Giants are in nickel, with linebackers Jonathan Casillas and Keenan Robinson sitting in the middle of the field disrupting crossing routes. Rodgers first looks to Richard Rodgers for reasons known only to him. Richard is unsurprisingly covered well and Aaron comes back to Adams, who does have some separation from Sensabaugh. Unfortunately he’s wandered too close to Casillas, and has to pull up on his route, allowing Sensabaugh to quickly close the gap.

Davante Adams Covered

At this point, Aaron pulls the ball down, though had we waited another split second he would have seen Ty Montgomery momentarily flash open just short of the goal line. Randall Cobb also appeared to beat his man, but it would have been a tough throw over Casillas.

Cobb is open

The line has already put in a good day’s work on this play and the Giants finally start to make some headway. Tackle Johnathan Hankins shakes TJ Lang for a second just as the other tackle, Damon Harrison, sheds Linsley upfield. Rodgers abruptly cuts back behind Lang allowing him to re-engage. Both Cobb and Cook are open at this point, and while Aaron’s head is upfield, he has to reset his feet, and while he’s just about to throw to Cobb, Cobb sees Cook coming towards him and cuts back towards his own defenders to clear space. This opens things up momentarily for Cook except for the fact that Adams has gotten tangled up with Sensabaugh right in front of him. With everyone once again covered, Aaron resumes scrambling.

Rodgers resets

Rodgers may have been able to hit Montgomery several times over the course of this play, but Ty was not being decisive with his route. He would spring open one second and cut back into his defender the next, never presenting a shoulder or an open area. On a scramble play it is important for receivers to clearly indicate, with crisp routes or body language, where they will be going. Because Montgomery is making himself unpredictable, Rodgers mostly ignores him.

In the next second things clear up and Aaron makes up his mind. He’s throwing to Davante Adams. The reason he’s throwing to Adams is that he can read the name on the back of Sensabaugh’s jersey.

Rodgers sees Adams

Sensabaugh is facing Adams and not watching Rodgers at all, and Adams disengages and breaks for the sideline with Sensabaugh having no idea what’s about to happen. There is still one problem for Rodgers though, as a very large and very unblocked Damon Harrison is very quickly bearing down on him.

Rodgers, fortunately, has this in his line of sight as he stares down Adams. He sees the previously beaten Corey Linsley hustling back to pick up his man, and deftly takes two steps to his left, guiding the looping Harrison back underneath Linsley. Rodgers steps up and winds up, as Sensabaugh’s back is still to him, and Adams has created the tiniest amount of box-out separation.

Rodgers winds up

Rodgers, as he so often does, delivers a perfect strike to Adams, and while Sensabaugh is tight on Adams, he’s also flailing a bit. The window is tight, but the throw is true.

Adams catches

Adams does well to body off his defender, make a strong catch, and get his feet down for one of the most high-effort five yard touchdown passes you’ll ever see. Rodgers kept his head upfield almost the entire play while deftly steering oncoming rushers back into blocks. The Giants’ secondary did about as good a job as is possible on a 9-second play. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter against Aaron Rodgers.

The Impact

Early plays usually don’t have as big of an impact on a game, nor do 2nd and 5 plays, but this touchdown was absolutely huge for several reasons. First, this was the Wild Card game and the stakes are always higher in a playoff game. The Giants had also dominated the first half to some extent, and held a modest 6-0 lead going into this drive. The Packers managed to punch it in with 2:20 left on the clock, which turned out to be huge as the Giants went 3-and-out on their next series, and the 2-minute warning allowed the Packers to get the ball back with 1:38 remaining. They would drive to the New York 42 where, on the last play of the half, Rodgers hit Randall Cobb on a Hail Mary, a play that may not have been possible if this 9-second touchdown had not happened. While the final score appears to be a blowout, this was a close contest for the majority of the game, and without the two strikes at the end of the first half, there is no guaranty that the Packers win.

In addition, I recently wrote about how Rodgers is elite within 5 yards of the goal line, and the patience, pocket presence, and laser precision are the reasons why. He illustrates all of these qualities on this play.

The Countdown

10. Gone in 8.78 seconds
9. Ty Montgomery is a wide receiver no more
8. Clay Matthews forces two fumbles on one play
7. Davante Adams torches the Seahawks
6. Another Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary