Each year, Acme Packing Company’s writers vote for the Green Bay Packers’ top plays of the previous season. Our votes are based on the impact of the play, spectacular individual or team effort, or sheer amusement value we compile the votes to list out the top ten plays. Join us over a two-week span as we count down from 10 to 1 in the Packers’ Top Plays of 2021.
After a tie for our 10th ranked play yesterday, we move on to number 9, Randall Cobb’s 3rd and 16 almost-conversion against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 5. In what turned out to be one of the most stressful games of the season, the Packers and Bengals traded missed kicks and defensive blunders on their way to overtime, where Mason Crosby finally sent one through the uprights with 1:55 left to play.
While the Packers' offense sputtered for most of the game against the eventual Super Bowl runners-up, a few key plays defined the outcome and kept the team barely hanging on. One such play came on a crucial late-game heave to a longtime Packers hero and acted as a reunion for both him and QB1.
After a disastrous opening week loss on the road to the New Orleans Saints, the Packers had found their footing. Riding the high of three straight wins, two of which came against playoff teams in the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, things had stabilized. Their tour of the AFC North continued as the Packers headed to Cincinnati for an afternoon game against the 3-1 Bengals. The feel-good, plucky upstart turned out to be much more than that as they made it all the way to the Super Bowl, and in hindsight, you could see the team’s mettle in games like these.
The game opened up with four punts and an Aaron Rodgers interception, a harbinger of the ugly football to come. Cincinnati got the scoring underway with a 10-play, 51-yard touchdown drive to cap off the 1st quarter. Rodgers and the Packers answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive of their own, but Mason Crosby missed the PAT. His terrible day at the office had just begun. The two teams went back and forth from that point on, until an 8-minute, 75-yard Bengals drive tied the game with 3:27 left in the 4th quarter. This is where the wheels came off of this disastrous game.
Aaron Jones broke a 57-yard run on the next drive to set the Packers up for the win. However, Crosby missed the easy 36-yarder. Not to be outdone, the Bengals set themselves up for a 57-yard kick to win. Evan McPherson missed. Naturally, some Aaron Rodgers heroics were on the way. A 20-yard completion to Davante Adams set Mason Crosby up for a 51-yard field goal to end this nightmare. But like a horror movie villain who simply won’t die, the kick missed and the Bengals were given a second shot at life.
A De’Vondre Campbell interception opened the overtime period (more on that later in this series) and once again, put the Packers in great position. But God had left Paul Brown Stadium long ago, and fans were subject to another missed kick, surely as some sort of retribution for past sins. The game felt pretty much over. Burrow and Chase would lead the Bengals down to Packers territory and McPherson would nail the kick. Half of that prophecy came true! But Krys Barnes stopped Joe Mixon on 3rd and 1, leading to a 49-yard field goal attempt. You know the story by now. Although he thought he nailed it, McPherson missed.
Rodgers and co. got the ball at their own 39-yard line with 4:13 left in OT. A screen to Marcedes Lewis netted the Packers 20 yards as Big Dog bounced off a few tacklers. Now at the Cincinnati 41-yard line, the Packers lost 6 yards on the next two plays, an Aaron Jones run and a sack. 3rd and 16 loomed, the last shot for the Packers after a grueling game. Rodgers stood in the pocket, and drifting left off his back foot, somehow completed the pass to Randall Cobb right at the marker, who had Jessie Bates bearing down on him over the middle. You can check out the play here. After a review inexplicably ruled the ball short of the first down, the Packers had to kick. This time, Mason Crosby nailed the 49-yard kick from the left hash, sending it right down the middle. Game over. Packers win.
The Packers started off 2-0 against the AFC North and finished the season with a clean sweep of the division. At 4-1, the week 1 loss against the Saints was further in the rear view. Fans of both teams and anyone watching had a few years shaved off their lives and presumably vowed to not speak of what they saw ever again. While Randall Cobb suffered an injury later in the season, the play showed us a small glimpse of his glory days and proved he may have just a bit left in the tank.
The Packers would go on to reel off another two straight wins, giving them the momentum necessary to beat the league-leading Arizona Cardinals on their home turf and take control of the conversation in the NFC.
Stay tuned for the number 8 play on our countdown on Wednesday when we discuss yet another pivotal play from the Packers and Bengals’ week 5 showdown.