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 seven in the countdown, Davante Adams torches the Seahawks on a ridiculous throw from Aaron Rodgers to extend what proved to be the game-sealing drive against the Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Round.
In their first playoff game at Lambeau Field since 2016, the Packers hosted the Seattle Seahawks, who had dispatched the Josh McCown-led Philadelphia Eagles. No Cheesehead needed to be reminded of their playoff history, good and bad. Adding to the nerves, Seattle came in playing well, taking the 49ers to the brink in Week 17 and winning on the road in the Wild Card round.
The Seahawks were a trendy upset pick and fans knew even if the Packers won, the 49ers would be waiting for them in the NFC Championship Game. Still, this game had a chance to be a validation of a 13-3 season in which the Packers were dragged as the “worst 13-3 team ever.”
Russell Wilson was on one. Sphincters across Packer Nation tightened as the Seahawks engineered a furious late comeback. Green Bay held tenuously to a 28-23 lead, but it felt like 0-0 and if the Seahawks got the ball back they would score for sure, after Seattle cut a 21-10 Packers lead midway through the third into a one-score lead with 2:19 left.
One stop would give them the chance. On 3rd-and-8 from their own 22, with the offense sputtering following a red hot start, Rodgers and the offense needed to deliver, needed to engineer the kind of play they failed to find in the NFC Championship Game game five years earlier.
It’s fitting that the play would wind up between two of the small group of players on the 2019 team to experience that previous heartbreak.
Rodgers knew it at the snap but it wasn’t the called play. His best receiver was in the slot against backup cornerback Ugo Amadi with a single safety in the middle of the field. Not only was it 3rd-and-8, it’s a risky throw, requiring ultimate precision. But look who we are talking about. Rodgers and Adams each made a pre-snap adjustment, recognizing the man coverage.
“It looked like the defender might have jumped inside at the snap and he just got a great release, got off the ball and I just put it in a good spot for him,” Rodgers said after the game, comparing their unspoken connection to that of Jordy Nelson.
“[Adams’] body control makes the margin of error on a throw like that a lot higher. He ran a great route and I had a lot of space, I felt like, to put it. I’m not sure what it looked like on the TV, but it felt like from where I was standing he had a good deal of separation.”
While the Adams catch was more spectacular and may have felt like the clincher, as Rodgers jokingly pointed out in his press conference after the game, he wished Adams hadn’t gone out of bounds after making the catch.
The Packers still needed to convert one more third down to salt the game away, and it came on the most meaningful play of Jimmy Graham’s career. That first down also sparked controversy as Seahawks Twitter reacted as one might expect from some camera angles that erroneously showed Graham’s leg touching down before the ball crossed the first down marker.
Winning put a feather in Matt LaFleur’s cap, demonstrated Rodgers was still capable of elite play in the playoffs, and put to bed any lingering questions about Adams’ place as a superstar receiver.
Just don’t ask about what happened the next week in San Francisco.