With the Green Bay Packers in the midst of their lengthy summer break before training camp, Acme Packing Company has begun to count down the team’s top 10 players of the previous season. In 2018, the Packers stumbled to an ugly 6-9-1 record, losing their longtime head coach in December with multiple games remaining and experiencing issues in every phase of the game. Accordingly, compiling the list of the year’s top plays offered more challenges than usual.
However, 11 contributors at APC submitted votes for the Packers’ top 10 players, and we will break down these moments over the ensuing two weeks. As in past years, contributors selected plays based on their impact on a game or the season, impressive individual effort, or simply the hilarity factor.
In the latest edition of APC’s countdown, we have the 7th best play of the year, a rare positive special teams highlight from an otherwise forgettable season by the unit.
After a sensational come-from-behind victory over Chicago in week one, the Packers remained home at the friendly confines of Lambeau Field to face the reigning NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota entered the game 1-0 after a season-opening win over the San Francisco 49ers and looked to keep their early success going against a top divisional rival. For a week two contest, the matchup was shaping up to be a pivotal early-season tilt.
Early in the first quarter, the game was scoreless as the Packers’ promising first drive stalled and possession changed hands to the Vikings. Minnesota started from its own eight-yard line and earned a first down on the drive to move the ball north of the 20-yard marker. But a third down sack of Kirk Cousins from Reggie Gilbert and Jaire Alexander gave the Green Bay defense a much-needed early stop.
After the six-yard loss, the Vikings faced a tough 4th-and-16 predicament from their own 15-yard line with 7:33 on the game clock.
With Minnesota punter Matt Wile back deep to punt, Green Bay’s Geronimo Allison surged through the middle of the line and blocked the kick. The ball fluttered straight up in the air and into the hands of Josh Jackson at the goal line. The Packers’ rookie came down with the ball in the end zone for the touchdown despite swipes from Vikings linebacker Eric Wilson to strip the ball. It was the first touchdown of Jackson’s young career as the Packers gained the early lead.
For Green Bay, it was the first blocked punt return for a touchdown since 2012, a deflection by Davon House against Jacksonville that saw Dezman Moses reach the end zone.
The blocked punt helped the Packers draw first blood and take a 7-0 advantage in the first quarter. While one of Green Bay’s best special teams plays of the year, this moment tended to get covered up in the aftermath of a disappointing 29-29 tie. In fact, the performances from kickers on both sides of the field were among the most remembered plays of the game as each missed game-winning attempts at the end of regulation and overtime.
Still, a blocked punt remains one of the more exciting plays in football for the rarity that it takes place. Although the Packers allowed a long return on the ensuing kickoff that led to a Vikings touchdown, the first score of the game was a highlight moment of Green Bay’s entire season.
11 APC contributors pitched in with votes for this year’s countdown, and this play popped up on six ballots, ranking as high as third. The play just squeaked past Aaron Jones’ scamper against Miami that appeared 8th on the final tally.
Editor’s note: this article inaccurately described the Vikings’ first game of the 2018 season as a loss to New Orleans. It has been changed to reflect the error.