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Best Packers Plays of All Time, Day 7: The Final Four gets underway

A round of blowouts in the quarterfinals pushes three favorites and a rather large underdog into the semifinal round.

Syndication: Milwaukee Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On to the Final Four!

Earlier this week, the Elite Eight in our bracket of the top plays in Green Bay Packers history featured three of the top four seeds moving on in blowouts and our sixth seed, B.J. Raji’s pick six, continuing on its Cinderella run with 62% of the vote against “We want the ball and we’re gonna score.” Each remaining seed has rolled in their previous matchups by an average of 50 percentage points, proving they have what it takes to be crowned champion this week.

The most impressive performance so far has to be from Bart Starr’s Ice Bowl sneak, as that play once again got 80% of the vote, beating Max McGee’s Super Bowl I catch by a margin of 72%. We now witness two historic matchups, both pitting old vs. new. Will B.J. Raji continue his jog to the championship or will we see the top two seeds move on? Let’s check out the bracket below and then get into the matchups. Be sure to click each seed to relive the incredible plays before voting.

B.J. Raji’s Pick Six vs. the Bears faces off against Desmond Howard’s kickoff return touchdown in Super Bowl XLV while Bart Starr’s Ice Bowl Sneak is pitted against “4th and 8.”
Best Packers Plays of All Time

Here it is, the last play standing to take place before 1980 dueling the new hotness, “4th and 8.” The number 1 seeded Ice Bowl touchdown has its work cut out for it here. But as the top dog, its bye week means it hasn’t gone through the grueling season like “4th and 8” has. After knocking off the Aaron Rodgers to Jeff Janis Hail Mary in round 2, it destroyed Max McGee’s one-handed Super Bowl I snag and has found itself favored again (according to my own personal betting odds that you are not allowed to see). However, “4th and 8” has taken out Antonio Freeman’s miracle catch AND Tramon Williams’ pick-six against the Falcons in 2011. These two moments will stand the test of time for Packers fans and “4th and 8” discarded them like used napkins. The number 4 seed is no slouch here.

#1: Bart Starr’s QB Sneak vs. the Cowboys in the Ice Bowl

13 degrees below zero. The game-time temperature at Lambeau Field on December 31st, 1967 should’ve repelled even the most loyal Packers fans. And yet, 50,000 showed up to watch the NFL Championship between the Packers and Cowboys. As they attempted to win their 3rd consecutive NFL Championship, with 5:00 left in the game, the Packers found themselves trailing 17-14. With 16 seconds left, the Packers lined up on the goal line with no timeouts. A pass play was really the only option here to win the game. But Bart Starr and the Packers gambled with a sneak play up the middle. Ken Bowman and Jerry Kramer destroyed Cowboys lineman Jethro Pugh, giving Starr the space he needed to sky over the line for the game-winning TD.

#4: “4th and 8” to Win the NFC North

Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb have crushed the souls of Bears fans as a hobby for nearly a decade now, but no moment stands above the NFC North winning bomb to Cobb in 2013. The 2013 season was a tumultuous one for the Packers. After starting 5-2, Rodgers was lost to a broken collarbone in the 1st quarter against the Bears in week 9. A Thanksgiving blowout to the Lions left them at 5-6-1 with little hope for the playoffs. But with a little luck and a lot of Matt Flynn magic, the Packers went 2-1 over the next 3 weeks, setting up Rodgers to return for a week 17, winner takes all showdown with the Bears to decide the NFC North. Cobb himself was returning from an injury as well. With less than a minute left in the game, down 1 with one last gasp left, Rodgers scrambled left to evade the rush and thanks to a timely John Kuhn block on Julius Peppers, was able to heave it downfield to Cobb for a 48-yard touchdown. Chris Conte expected Cobb to stop at the sticks, but he and Rodgers had a different idea, leaving Cobb wide open for the score.

Poll

Which is the better Packers play?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Bart Starr’s QB Sneak vs. the Cowboys in the Ice Bowl
    (847 votes)
  • 27%
    "4th and 8" to Win the NFC North vs. the Bears
    (329 votes)
1176 votes total Vote Now

The underdog story lives on! B.J. Raji continues to serve as inspiration for all the big guys out there that we too can pick off QBs in NFC Championship games and score touchdowns. Or maybe we can just play some linebacker in 7-on-7’s. That’s more likely. Raji’s touchdown got here by going through “We want the ball and we’re gonna score” and the Miracle in Motown, so it’s safe to say he has been battle tested. He finds himself going up against Desmond Howard’s historic Super Bowl XXXI kickoff return. As the number 2 seed with a bye, Howard’s return has had two matchups, beating Brett Favre’s emotional Oakland performance and then crushing Greg Jennings’ 3rd and 10 catch in Super Bowl XLV. Maybe due to some leftover feelings after watching Undisputed the past few years, but who am I to say? I’m thinking this could be one of our closest matchups yet.

#6: B.J. Raji Pick Six in the NFC Championship

At 6’2” 340 lbs, Raji isn’t exactly what you think of when you think of the “spy” role on defense. But against Caleb Hanie and the Bears in the NFC Championship, Raji played his part to perfection. The big man dropped back into coverage, picked off Hanie’s pass, and rumbled his way to the end zone to give the Pack a commanding 21-7 lead and secure their spot in Super Bowl XLV. And who could forget Raji’s iconic dance in the end zone? The perfect end cap to a play that couldn’t have been written better by Hollywood execs themselves.

#2: Desmond Howard’s Kickoff Return Touchdown in Super Bowl XXXI

No snaps on offense. Zero on defense. And a Super Bowl XXXI MVP as the Packers defeated the Patriots 35-21. Howard totaled 244 return yards in the big game, none more important than his 99-yard kickoff return TD in the third quarter that staved off the Patriots and put the exclamation point on the Packers’ victory. At the time, it was the longest play in Super Bowl history.

Poll

Which is the better Packers play?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    B.J. Raji Pick Six vs. the Bears in the NFC Championship
    (527 votes)
  • 55%
    Desmond Howard’s Kickoff Return TD in Super Bowl XXXI
    (658 votes)
1185 votes total Vote Now

With that, the Final Four is underway. After a week of voting, we’re nearly to the final round. Will the top 2 seeds duke it out or will B.J. Raji and Randall Cobb spoil it for the favorites? Voting will remain open until 10:00 AM EST on Friday and the championship round will begin shortly after. Make sure to vote here and see that your favorite play moves on to the final on Friday!