GREEN BAY – There was never any doubt in Darnell Savage’s mind he had caught his first NFL interception with a little less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter of the Packers’ 27-16 win over Denver on Sunday.
While it took a challenge from Head Coach Matt LaFleur to overturn the call on the field, the rookie safety was eventually credited with picking off Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco on a play in which the 22-year-old rookie got his hands underneath an incomplete pass that was about to hit the ground.
To this point, Savage has showcased the speed, football IQ and playmaking ability the Packers felt he possessed when they made him the 21st overall pick in last April’s NFL Draft.
The interception Sunday, one of three takeaways the Packers’ defense generated, checked another box for Savage, who transitioned seamlessly into defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme through the first three games.
“We have a lot of playmakers on our defense, and we just all pride ourselves on being around the ball,” Savage said. “When you’re around the ball, good things happen. So we’re just playing hard, just playing as fast as we can, and we’re going to see what happens.”
Fittingly, on the same afternoon Savage got his first NFL interception, fellow first-round pick Rashan Gary notched his first NFL sack, as well, with 3 minutes, 4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Gary also received his most extensive playing time to date rushing from Green Bay’s dime package. Along with his sack of Flacco, the rookie linebacker also recovered a fumble following Preston Smith’s strip-sack in the second quarter.
“I feel as a defense we have the good swagger about ourselves,” said Gary, who finished with four tackles. “We trust one another that when we look to the left and the right of us that everybody's going to do what they need to do to come out with the win. That's the type of mindset the defense has got. You know how we rock – ‘D-train.’”
Going deep: Marquez Valdes-Scantling has been around long enough to know where he should be headed if he notices a defender jump offside – the end zone.
That’s why the Packers’ second-year receiver broke off his route and used his 4.37-second 40 time to outsprint Kareem Jackson after seeing Von Miller come across the line of scrimmage on second-and-6 during the Packers’ first offensive possession.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers used the free play to hit Valdes-Scantling for a 40-yard touchdown to put Green Bay on the board with 12 minutes, 22 seconds left in the first quarter.
“It wasn’t the play call but we were going on two and that’s our rule – if we get a guy to jump offsides, everybody go deep and find a spot,” said Valdes-Scantling, who finished with a team-high six catches for 99 yards. “We know we have a free play, so we can go up and try to make any type of catch.”
So close to paydirt: Fourth-year fullback Danny Vitale came within inches of scoring his first NFL touchdown Sunday, only to be called down short of the end zone on a 27-yard catch during Green Bay’s first offensive possession of the second half.
Instead, Vitale cleared the way for running back Aaron Jones’ 1-yard touchdown run two plays later. Jones told Vitale afterward he plans to give him that football as a thank you.
“It was awesome,” Vitale said. “I already told the guys from ‘Pardon My Take’ I didn’t want the touchdown, I just wanted the fullback assist after that.”
Lambeau Field hosted a Week 3 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Denver Broncos.