The Green Bay Packers hold an odd distinction in NFL annals. Along with their divisional rivals, the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers have recorded the most instances of the “octopus” in NFL history.
For the uninitiated, the octopus is a term coined by Sports Illustrated’s Mitch Goldich to describe a sequence in which a player scores a touchdown, then scores again on the ensuing two-point conversion. The symbolism is simple: eight arms, eight points in a single possession for a single player. And the usage of the term is growing around the league, sneaking into live and NFL Red Zone broadcasts in 2020.
In his now-annual recap of octopus-related activities around the NFL, Goldich broke down the 2020 season and provided a list of all of the octopi that have been recorded since the NFL adopted the two-point conversion for the 1994 season. The Packers feature prominently in this year’s recap for two reasons.
First, Green Bay gave up three octopi last year, all of which were notable for various reasons. They became the first team to allow a pair of teammates to each score an octopus in the same game, as the Vikings’ Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen both achieved the feat in week one, a 43-34 Packers victory. In fact, the two players did so less than seven minutes apart in the fourth quarter — Cook’s came with just under 8 minutes left to pull the Vikings within ten points, while Thielen achieved his after the two-minute warning, posting the final points of the game.
The Packers also allowed what would become the “Octopus of the Year,” an eight-point sequence for the Los Angeles Rams’ Cam Akers in the Divisional Playoffs. Akers took in a Wildcat run up the middle for a touchdown, then received a designed lateral from a wide receiver who caught a pass from Jared Goff and scampered around the edge of the defense into the end zone.
However, the Packers also have a more positive mention, as they are tied with the Vikings for the most octopi by a single team in league history. The two NFC North rivals each have 11 such events, with Minnesota’s league-leading four in 2020 bringing them into a tie with Green Bay. The Packers also have two players with two octopi apiece, as you’ll see below.
Here is the list of all of the Packers’ octopi over the years:
- Mark Chmura, Week 10 1995 @ MIN
- Corey Bradford, Week 11 1999 vs. DET
- Ruvell Martin, Week 12 2008 @ NO
- Greg Jennings, Week 1 2009 vs. CHI
- Randall Cobb, Week 2 2014 vs. NYJ
- Richard Rodgers, Week 2 2015 vs. SEA
- James Jones, Week 11 2015 @ MIN
- Davante Adams, Week 17 2016 @ DET
- Randall Cobb, Week 17 2017 @ DET
- Aaron Rodgers, Week 16 2018 @ NYJ
- Davante Adams, Week 12 2019 @ SF
While many of these came late in games when the Packers were either trailing or leading by a significant margin, a few were crucial conversions. Chmura’s in 1995 tied the game early in the fourth quarter, though the Packers would lose on a field goal as time expired. The scores from Aaron Rodgers against the Jets in 2018 put the team up by three late in regulation; although the Jets tied the game with a late field goal, the Packers would walk off in overtime on a touchdown by Davante Adams.
Keep the eight-point play in mind as your football watching begins in 2021 to see if the Packers can reclaim sole possession of first place in this statistical oddity.