After over a week of voting, we have finally made it to the final round. Twenty-nine teams entered, and only two remain. In the semifinal round, we saw Bart Starr and the Lombardi Packers cruise to yet another blowout, winning by a 44% margin. They have won all three of their matchups with an average 83% of the vote. Against some of the most beloved Packers plays in modern history, the play that stands over fifty years old has dominated. The Ice Bowl sneak will duke it out with Desmond Howard’s kickoff return touchdown, who beat the plucky underdog B.J. Raji by a 12% margin. Howard’s return has fared well in each round, winning by an average of 27%, aided by a blowout in round three vs. Greg Jennings’ 3rd and 10 catch in Super Bowl XLV. With so many plays from the last 20 years in this bracket, it almost seems like fate that two of our oldest contenders will fight for the prestigious title of Best Packers Play. We’ll take a look at the bracket below one final time before getting into this heavyweight matchup.
The top two seeds in our bracket are here for a reason. Their determination, grit, and supreme talent have led them to an epic matchup against each other in the championship game. It also helps that they received the most votes. Mostly that. To pull off the upset, Desmond Howard will rely on the fact that most of us remember exactly where we were during that moment. As the Patriots climbed closer and closer, Howard’s return threw them back down á la The Undertaker vs. Mankind in the classic 1998 Hell in a Cell matchup. It was a monumental moment that let the league know the Packers were here to stay as contenders after so many years stuck in the doldrums. The Ice Bowl game-winning QB sneak needs no explanation as to why it is the favorite here. It has crushed every opponent so far and is known as one of the greatest football games ever played. Countless articles, books, and documentaries have been made on the subject. It would be the last time the NFL hosted such a massive game in a cold-weather stadium until Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey. Many believed that football simply shouldn’t be played in such brutal conditions. Whether it be the unpredictable camera angle that captured the block on Jethro Pugh or the unprecedented post-game interviews in the losing team’s locker room, the play’s impact on the NFL is undeniable.
#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.
#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.
Which is the better Packers play?
This poll is closed
Bart Starr’s QB Sneak vs. the Cowboys in the Ice Bowl
Desmond Howard’s Kickoff Return TD in Super Bowl XXXI
That’s all, folks! Our final poll is underway to determine who will be crowned as the Best Packers Play of All Time. The two legendary plays will forever be remembered by Packers fans of all ages. Whether you attended either game, watched it on television, or just remember the stories told to you by family members and documentaries, these hold a special place in all our hearts. Voting will be open until Monday, so be sure to vote quickly and spread the word to see your favorite play crowned champion!