Now that the Green Bay Packers are finished with minicamp, we enter the long five-week layoff before the opening of training camp on July 26th. As has become an annual tradition here at APC, we have compiled a list of the Packers’ best plays from the previous season, though this year’s list was a bit tougher to finalize than that of years past.
The 2017 season was a challenging one for the Packers, with Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone injury putting a damper on much of the season. Still, Brett Hundley served up a handful of notable plays amidst his struggles.
This year, ten APC contributors submitted rankings, which we have compiled into our final list. The voting criteria was for everyone to rank the ten best plays of the year, using impact on a game, individual effort, and hilarity factor all factoring in. Stay tuned for our final top 10 starting on Monday, but as a preview, we’ll look at a few of the best plays that just missed the cut.
The first play that we’ll discuss on our countdown is one of these honorable mentions, and it really had very little to do with the Packers themselves. Instead, we’re taking this moment to laugh at former Bears head coach John Fox for a royal screw-up that helped the Packers maintain a tenuous lead at Soldier Field.
It’s week ten, with the Packers sitting at 4-4 on the season. We’re a few weeks removed from Rodgers’ broken collarbone, as Brett Hundley is making his third start. Midway through the second quarter at Soldier Field, the Packers hold a 10-3 lead but they have allowed the Bears to drive down the field. However, they forced the Bears into a third and 23 from the Packers’ 25-yard line.
The play itself isn’t anything to write home about from the Packers’ perspective. Benny Cunningham leaks out of the backfield and catches a pass from Mitchell Trubisky, scampering up the right sideline and diving for the pylon. Marwin Evans forces him out, and the referee rules him down at the two-yard line, saying that he stepped out of bounds before touching the pylon with the football.
Bears head coach John Fox disagrees, however, and challenged the play, thinking that Cunningham touched the pylon with the football prior to stepping out of bounds.
Hilarity ensues on replay. Here’s the play from NFL.com.
As Packers fans all remember, the play is overturned upon Fox’s challenge, but not for the reason he hoped. Instead, Cunningham was shown to have lost control of the football as he was stretching out, and the loose ball hits the pylon. The ruling is a fumble and a touchback, giving the Packers the football at the 20-yard line.
Instead of potentially tying the game at 10, the Packers took over in their own territory. They picked up one first down and punted the ball away, getting some better field position in the process.
Eventually, the Packers won this game by a touchdown, 23-16. If Fox hadn’t challenged, the Bears would have had a first-and-goal at the Packers’ two-yard line, putting them in a great position to find the end zone against one of the NFL’s worst red-zone defenses. That could have been the difference at the end that might have sent the game to overtime instead.
Stay tuned for more honorable mentions throughout the weekend and for the start of our countdown on Monday.