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Packers’ Top Plays of 2018, #3: Aaron Rodgers finds Big Bob Tonyan for a big TD

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The first-year tight end only had four catches all season, but one was a 54-yard touchdown.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Coming in third on the countdown was a big-play receiving touchdown from an unlikely tight end.


The Game

In a pivotal Week 11 matchup, the Green Bay Packers (4-4-1) headed to Seattle (4-5) to face the Seahawks on Thursday Night Football. Both teams had seemingly underachieved to that point, with Seattle itself losing its previous two games. For the Seahawks, a loss would significantly reduce their postseason chances. Green Bay had just broken its own two-game losing streak with a win against Miami and was trying to creep back into the playoff race.

Standing in the Packers’ way was a difficult road test in Seattle, a place where the team had accumulated nightmares over the last several years.

The Situation

Typically stocked with a great defense, the Seahawks had been tough to score on in the past several games played against the Packers. Yet, Green Bay got off to a quick 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the first quarter after a fumble by Seattle. Green Bay would miss a field goal on its next possession before the Seahawks trimmed the lead to 7-3 just over midway through the quarter.

Behind two first downs on the Packers’ next drive, the offense marched to its own 46-yard line. On first down, Aaron Rodgers threw an incomplete pass to set up a 2nd-and-10 opportunity with 3:10 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Play

Under center, Rodgers took the snap and dropped back to pass. Buying time and backing up in the pocket, Rodgers nearly stumbled over Lane Taylor’s feet as the Packer guard was being pushed back. But the Green Bay quarterback evaded the pass rush and rolled to his right, scanning downfield and directing receivers.

Heaving deep down the field, Rodgers’ missile landed right into the arms of tight end Robert, “Big Bob,” Tonyan in the end zone down the middle of the field. A 54-yard touchdown, it was both Tonyan’s first NFL catch and score. Beautiful pass, beautiful catch, and the score was 14-3 in the Packers’ favor.

The Impact

Despite gaining control early with Tonyan’s catch, the Packers would end up in a tight battle. The Seahawks would outscore the Packers in the second quarter to narrow the gap to 21-17 at halftime. Eventually a late Seattle touchdown in the fourth quarter would give the Seahawks their first lead, one that was enough for a 27-24 victory.

For the Seahawks, the win would jump-start the team’s wildcard run. But for Green Bay, the loss sent the team spiraling as the first of a three-game losing skid. Although the long-term impact of the loss was monumental, Tonyan’s surprising play still ranked among the Packers’ most impressive of the season.

Voting

Of 11 APC voters, Big Bob’s touchdown made the top-10 list for 10 contributors. The 54-yard score was ranked as high as number two on a pair of ballots.