The Green Bay Packers won 14 games in 2019, compiling a 13-3 regular season record and a home victory in the Divisional round of the playoffs. Many tremendous individual plays contributed to that success, and with the summer upon us we at Acme Packing Company have ranked our favorites from the entire season.
Compared to 2018, when the Packers finished 6-9-1, 2019 was much more fun and had far more memorable plays to look back on. This year’s countdown was one of the toughest to decide in recent memory, with the top two plays separated by a single point. 11 APC contributors pitched in, each ranking our 15 favorite plays in order. After compiling the rankings, we finalized our top ten and will present them in reverse order over the next several days.
At number eight in the countdown, Aaron Jones makes yet another appearance and this time he gives Packers fans the gift they really wanted in 2019: an NFC North championship.
In Week 16 last year, the Packers traveled to Minnesota with a chance to put a bow on an NFC North title but in order to do so they’d have to secure their first win at US Bank Stadium against the Vikings.
Winning the division was a crucial first step for the Packers to get in the best position to make a run at Super Bowl LIV. Entering the game at 11-3, the Packers just needed to win one of their final two games to clinch the North and be in prime position for a first round bye.
Given Green Bay’s track record at US Bank Stadium and the lowly Detroit Lions on deck for the season finale, even the most optimistic Packers fan had to wonder if the division clincher would come in Week 16 against a stout Vikings team or would have to wait one more week.
It was a defensive stalemate through the first half as Minnesota was without Dalvin Cook, a blessing for a Packers defense that struggled stopping the run all season. The Packers trailed 10-9 at the half and a Kevin King interception halfway through the third quarter stopped what was looking to be a promising Vikings drive.
The Packers were able to capitalize and take a 17-10 lead in the fourth. With the game in the balance and the Packers trying to milk the clock with time running out in regulation, one score would put a dagger in the Vikings’ hopes for a second straight division crown.
After a Kenny Clark sack forced a Vikings punt, the Packers needed just one six-minute drive to reclaim the throne at the top of the NFC North.
An Aaron Rodgers pass to Davante Adams gave the Packers a fresh set of downs at their own 44 with six minutes to go and instead of running the clock, Aaron Jones decided instead to rip out the hearts of the Vikings and their fans.
Rodgers started the play in shotgun with the offense in 21 personnel. Jones was lined up to Rodgers’ right with Tyler Ervin coming in motion from a trips formation to the left. It looked like Rodgers might pitch the ball to Ervin but instead he tossed the ball to Jones.
The Vikings didn’t bite on the Ervin motion but they were helpless to stop Jones, who stayed upright, sliced his way through the second level of the Minnesota defense, and high-stepped his was into the end zone.
Putting Jones and Ervin on the field was a wrinkle that head coach Matt LaFleur added to the offense late in the season and though it looked like Minnesota didn’t bite completely, you can see the move held Danielle Hunter just long enough for Jones to blow by him.
It was just a beautiful play design by the then-rookie head coach.
In short, it clinched the division for the Packers. Green Bay went up two scores and given how well the defense kept Kirk Cousins in check without Cook, the game was all but over.
The Packers knew getting as many games at Lambeau Field as possible was critical towards any Super Bowl run. This win ensured at least a first round game on the frozen tundra.
The win did much more than that, however. The Packers were 11-3 heading into the game, but not a lot of people were sold on them as true contenders. Putting away a tough divisional opponent on the road in a place where they had never won before served notice to everyone the Packers were indeed for real and a true threat to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LIV.
Any time you clinch the division in Minnesota is definitely a sweet memory and that, more than anything, is why this play is on our list. After hearing nothing but trash talk from Vikings and Bears fans that Green Bay’s time atop the division was over, it was (per usual) Packers fans who would have the last laugh.