With just three plays left, we’re in the home stretch of our Best Plays of 2022 series! We are days away from rookies reporting to training camp. Hopium is at an all-time high and the gravy train of content is ready to leave the station. But first, we’re taking a look at our #3 play of last season as ranked by APC contributors.
After taking a look at a pivotal forced fumble from Jarran Reed yesterday, we move on to the beginning of a hot streak rarely seen from Packers rookies. A weeks-long heat check filled with poor tackling angles and Road Runner-like breakaway speed began against the Packers’ favorite punching bag, the Dallas Cowboys.
#3: Christian Watson heats up
The Packers came into the Cowboys matchup at 3-6, having dropped five straight and teetering on the edge of the playoff picture. Dallas, meanwhile, looked the part of an NFC contender at 6-2. The only thing suggesting the Packers had a shot here was Aaron Rodgers’ history against Big D and Mike McCarthy’s general Mike McCarthy-ness. Oh, and Christian Watson, apparently. The rookie out of NDSU broke out in a massive way on the biggest possible regular season stage, putting up Randy Moss Thanksgiving numbers and answering calls for any semblance of a deep threat in Green Bay.
The Packers held the Cowboys scoreless in the first quarter of this one but trailed 7-0 midway through the first quarter. After trading turnovers, they got the ball at their own 33 yard line needing to capitalize on said turnover’s momentum.
On 3rd and 1 near midfield, the Packers dialed up a deep shot to Watson that sparked the offense. Anthony Brown played up on Watson, but without getting a hand on him early, he had no chance of keeping up as Watson flew past him over the top. Rodgers showed he’s still got it from time to time, and placed this one perfectly over Watson’s shoulder, who won the ball and helped alleviate some concerns about his skill at the catch point. Brown fell down, and that was all she wrote — Watson walked into the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.
Watson would go on to score two more times in the fourth quarter to drag the Packers back from a 14-point deficit and eventually win the game. The long touchdown provided a jumping off point for Watson, who caught fire and became a legitimate threat after this game. More than just a score, the play was cathartic. For Packers fans worried about their injured rookie receiver, for Rodgers who searched far and wide for a receiving threat all season, and for Watson himself, who proved what he knew all along: he had a rare ability to take over any game, any time. As Rodgers said postgame, “That first one, I feel like, was the monkey, the 800-pound gorilla off his back, the weight of expectations and frustrations and drops and disappointment, and hopefully that’s a big jolt for him moving forward.”
That’s it for the #3 play on our Best Plays series! Check back in tomorrow as we set our sights on another special teams revelation from yet another 2022 breakout player.