As we continue down our list of the best plays from the Green Bay Packers’ 2022 season, we come to number four, and in this spot we find a player appearing on the countdown for the first and only time. In fact, this may have been the only truly impactful play that this player made all season, but it certainly was a big one, earning a top-five spot in our votes.
The player was defensive lineman Jarran Reed, who arrived in Green Bay as a relatively cheap free agent signing during the 2022 offseason. The game came on Christmas Day, with the Packers in sunny Miami for the holidays rather than enjoying the wintry home-field weather of Lambeau Field. Green Bay entered the game at 6-8, riding a two-game winning streak and still clinging to playoff hopes if they could win out over their final three games. This game, in fact, was responsible for three consecutive plays on our countdown, with this one taking the top spot among the trio.
The team’s postseason hopes seemed to be in grave danger for much of the first 30 minutes, however. Following an early Miami field goal, the Packers squandered Keisean Nixon’s electric kickoff return — a play that came in at #6 on our countdown — by settling field a field goal. Miami got a big play of their own, an 84-yard touchdown from Jaylen Waddle, before the Packers drove methodically down the field for a 10-play, 54-yard drive to tie the game.
The rest of the first half seemed to belong entirely to the Dolphins, however. Green Bay failed twice on fourth down, once on 4th-and-1 from the edge of field goal range (leading to another Dolphins touchdown) and once on an awkward fake punt attempt by Dallin Leavitt at the Dolphins’ 20, which yielded a Miami field goal and a 20-10 deficit. A quick three-and-out by the Packers set up the Dolphins for a two-minute drill with a chance to take a three-possession lead.
But instead, on second down near midfield and on the first play out of the two-minute warning, Reed delivered a Christmas present to the rest of the team, changing the entire complexion of the game.
Raheem Mostert ran off right tackle, but Reed managed to get an arm disengaged from his blocker, stripping the football from the running back. Reed did the rest himself, falling on the football to deliver the football — and the game’s momentum — back into the hands of the Packers.
Green Bay did not score a touchdown on the ensuing drive, but they did manage to kick a field goal at the end of the first half, pulling the game back to within a touchdown. They would tie it up on the first drive of the third quarter, a seven-minute series that ended with an AJ Dillon touchdown. The Packers would then get three straight interceptions off Tua Tagavailoa in the fourth quarter to set up a pair of field goals that proved to be the difference in a 26-20 victory.
Although one of the turning points in this game may have been a sack on Tagavailoa earlier in the second quarter that resulted in an undiagnosed concussion, Reed’s alert play could not have come at a more critical time. It allowed the Packers to go into halftime down only one score instead of three, and it entirely changed the course of a game that the Packers desperately needed to win in order to stay alive in the playoff hunt.
Stay tuned on Wednesday when we will reveal the #3 play on our countdown!