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Packers Top Plays of 2016, No. 4: Rodgers throws TD while being dragged to the ground

Our fourth-best play of 2016 involves tremendous efforts by both QB and receiver to complete a ridiculous touchdown.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Jacksonville Jaguars Kim Klement-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.

This morning, we continue our top plays countdown with a look at the play we ranked as number four on our countdown.

The Situation

It is week one of the 2016 season, and the Packers are locked in a first-half battle with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the September Florida heat. Aaron Rodgers started the scoring on the year with a 6-yard touchdown run, but the Jaguars stormed back to a 10-7 lead. After Rodgers hit Nelson for a score with 3:05 left in the second quarter, the Jags responded just two minutes later on a 22-yard touchdown from Blake Bortles to Julius Thomas.

With 1:09 left on the clock, Rodgers went to work. He started the drive by throwing deep to Jared Cook, drawing a 30-yard pass interference penalty and putting the Packers across midfield in just seven seconds. He then added passes of 6 and 10 yards to set up the team on the Jaguars’ 29-yard line. A spike and an incomplete pass left the Packers with third and 10 from the 29 with 20 seconds left on the clock.

The Play

The Packers line up with three wide receivers — Jordy Nelson wide left, Davante Adams wide right, and Randall Cobb in the slot — plus Jared Cook split just off the line to the right and running back James Starks to Rodgers’ left in the shotgun. Rodgers signals to his offensive line, then takes the snap and drops back.

The initial protection is good, but rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey blitzes out of the right slot and comes in untouched on Rodgers.

The QB steps up in the pocket ever-so-slightly, and Ramsey overruns him just a bit. However, he gets a handful of Rodgers’ jersey, grabbing the “2” on the QB’s back. As he is being dragged down, Rodgers unloads a deep ball to the goal line around the numbers on the right side of the field. Here’s a look at how Ramsey has Rodgers as he rears back to throw the ball:

Jaley Ramsey has Aaron Rodgers’ jersey

An alternate angle is below. The fact that Rodgers was able to get rid of a ball that was remotely on-target at all is astounding in and of itself.

Jaley Ramsey grabs Aaron Rodgers alternate angle

Now we get to the catch.

When Davante Adams comes into view, he is working his way free just a bit from former Packer (and now a once-again Packer) Davon House. Adams has inside position on the corner, and turns his body in mid-air to make a diving attempt at the football while shielding his body and the ball from House. Adams reels in the football just across the goal line.

Take a look at Adams’ body position here and how he is able to complete the catch just as the ball passes House’s outstretched arm:

Davante Adams catch around Davon House

And finally, here’s a video clip of the play in its entirety:

The Impact

This score gave the Packers a 21-17 lead with 13 seconds left in the first half, and the Packers received the opening kickoff of the second half, adding a field goal at the end of that drive to extend their lead to 24-17. That proved to be all the margin they needed, as they ended up finishing off a 27-23 win and starting the 2016 season off with a hard-fought win in sweltering heat.

Not only was this play a ridiculous one by both quarterback and receiver, but it was a very impactful one in the context of the game. According to Pro Football Reference’s win percentage added stat, this play increased the Packers’ chances of winning the game by 14.2%, one of the top ten plays in that category for the entire season.

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
5. Another 9-second touchdown pass