Monday marks the first weekday of the first week of the Green Bay Packers’ lengthy summer break. With minicamp wrapping up last Thursday with a paintball tournament, the team has now dispersed for six weeks until arriving for training camp in late July.
At Acme Packing Company, this means that the time has come for our countdown of the top ten plays of the previous football season. In 2018, the Packers stumbled to an ugly 6-9-1 record, getting their head coach fired before the end of the year and seeing issues on both sides of the football. Indeed, coming up with this year’s top plays was a little more difficult than it has been in some past seasons.
However, 11 contributors here at APC have submitted votes for our top ten, and we will break down these plays one by one over the next two weeks. As in past years, contributors were encouraged to pick plays that were memorable for their impact on a game or the season, impressive individual effort, or simply the hilarity factor. Each of these considerations will come into play over the course of the next two weeks.
Today, we begin with play number ten, which was not a game-deciding play, but that did feature some particularly impressive effort from an injured quarterback and a rookie wide receiver.
It is week six, and the Packers are hosting the seemingly hapless San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field. San Francisco comes into the game with a record of 1-4, losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (week three) and running back Jerick McKinnon (preseason) for the season with ACL tears.
The Packers enter off a loss in Detroit that was Mason Crosby’s worst nightmare. The Packers lost 31-23 despite not punting, thanks to four missed field goals and three lost fumbles, including one punt return that was incorrectly ruled to have touched Kevin King before being recovered by Detroit.
After the season, Packers fans would also learn that quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who had been trying to nurse an injured leg back to health, suffered a setback in the Detroit game. Rodgers’ mobility had been sapped after being injured in the opening week against Chicago, but that setback limited him even further.
In the first half, the Packers jumped out to a 17-7 lead in the first quarter, but a brutal second quarter by the defense left Green Bay behind 24-20. C.J. Beathard connected with Marquise Goodwin on a pair of long scores in that quarter, forcing the Packers to play from behind.
The Packers opened the second half with the football, trailing by four points. After a pair of six-yard runs by Aaron Jones to move the sticks, the Packers faced a first-and-ten at their own 37-yard line.
The Packers line up in 12 personnel with Aaron Jones in the backfield. Jimmy Graham is in-line on the left with Lance Kendricks on the wing behind him. J’Mon Moore and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are stacked on the right side. Before the snap, Kendricks motions into the backfield, lining up as a fullback split to the right.
At the snap, the 49ers send five men at Rodgers, running a stunt on the line. Kendricks pushes an edge rusher wide and deep of Rodgers, who steps up in the pocket. However, eventually DeForest Buckner gets free from Lucas Patrick in the interior, forcing Rodgers to scramble to his right.
While on the run, Rodgers spots MVS along the sideline with safety Jaquiski Tartt in single-coverage. With Tartt’s back turned, Rodgers throws a back-shoulder pass on the run. The ball travels 30 yards downfield, where MVS makes a truly remarkable catch — somehow avoiding making major contact with Tartt and reaching back to haul in the football.
This play got the Packers into 49ers territory on a drive that eventually ended with a 51-yard field goal from Crosby to pull Green Bay back within one. It was the only points the Packers would score until after the final two-minute warning, but we’ll be revisiting this game again on this countdown.
11 APC contributors pitched in with votes for this year’s countdown, and this play popped up on four ballots, ranking as high as sixth. It narrowly beat out another play from this game for the 10th and final place on the countdown, which we will reveal when we discuss the honorable mentions later on.
Stay tuned on Tuesday for play number nine on our countdown.