Acme Packing Company’s countdown of the Green Bay Packers’ best plays from the 2018 season continues today, as we reach the top five.
For our fifth-best play of 2018, we have a defensive gem from a cornerback who may very well end up being the Packers’ best defensive player. Jaire Alexander cares not for your wide receiver blocking plans.
It’s week 12, and the Packers are in Minnesota to play the Vikings. The team is in a bit of a swoon at 4-6-1, but they have the miserable Arizona Cardinals on deck, and if they win this it looks very likely they’ll be back at .500 in a jiffy. With the Jets and Lions lined up for their final two games, a win here would put the Packers in great shape for yet another late playoff run. All they have to do is beat a Viking team that is itself struggling. It’s also my birthday! Let’s see what happens.
After a couple of 3-and-outs to start the game, Minnesota would take over on their own 24 yard line with a first and 10. The 195-pound Stefon Diggs would split out wide behind the 192-pound Adam Thielen. In front of them was the 196-pound Jaire Alexander, who suspected that trickery was afoot. It was.
There are too many people who lament the Packers not selecting safety Derwin James in the draft. James is an excellent player deserving of all the accolades he has received, but he’s a safety, and if anything Alexander’s rookie performance was even more impressive given the situation he found himself in. Take this play, for instance. There’s obviously some kind of ridiculous bubble screen coming.
Alexander is outside on the far numbers with Tramon Williams inside. Diggs catches the ball and attempts to cut the ball to the outside, away from Williams. The extremely athletic and shifty Thielen is supposed to cut off Alexander from getting outside and either tackling Diggs or forcing him out of bounds.
Alexander first makes a great read and hits Thielen’s outside shoulder, attempting to drive Diggs back into Williams. Thielen does not expect this. Diggs does not expect this. Alexander very much expects this, and decides to forego the entire idea of forcing the play back inside in favor of embarrassing everyone.
Unfortunately, Alexander never actually hit Diggs, and so he is not technically “down” in the football sense. He is down in the sense that his opponent just knocked him over by throwing one of his teammates at him, and he is sad that the play didn’t work, and scared that Alexander is going to throw someone else at him. He does the only logical thing and runs away - backwards - from Alexander as fast as he can. At first this looks like a very good plan as a few defensive linemen and Tramon Williams are the closest Packers to him, and it’s likely that even if he’s tackled, he’ll survive.
As Tramon closes in, Diggs attempts to spin away. As he turns his eyes grow wide. He quietly contemplates his own mortality.
He tries to think about what he ate for lunch and whether it’s all going to stay down. If he’s a smart man, he goes limp.
Diggs lost 10 yards, and a small piece of his soul.
Watch the whole play here.
Just kidding, watch the best part of the play below:
Jaire Alexander wrecking his blocker on the WR screen so hard that he ends up tackling the screener with the blocker. pic.twitter.com/ZlczapF4aH— Dusty (@DustyEvely) February 10, 2019
Unfortunately, both Thielen and Diggs recovered fine from this play and had monster games, leading to an eventual Viking victory. The Packers would blow the game later when Mike McCarthy called a running play on 3rd and 2 and Aaron Jones got very close, but not quite there. Mike then thought the officials would measure, but they didn’t, and he also didn’t challenge, but then had to waste a timeout anyway. He then they called a bunch-formation run that the Vikings easily stuffed because everyone knew exactly what would happen.
Also, the loss basically ended the season and broke the team, which would lose to Arizona the next week and get Mike fired — though honestly, he should have been fired after the 4th-and-1 play here. In any case, Jaire Alexander is awesome and deserved better on this day and all others.
Seven of APC’s 11 participating contributors put this play in their top ten, and it’s easy to see why: the hilarity factor and Alexander’s individual effort. In fact, of those seven, six had the play in the top five with one contributor putting the play in second place. In a season that had few true highlights and a lot of losses, this play is one that will stick in fans’ minds long after the remainder of the 2018 season is forgotten — particularly if Alexander goes on to become a star.