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Signature snaps: Top five running plays of 2011




The NFL offseason will officially be upon us following the Super Bowl and, like any offseason, it will feel too long.

One of the best ways to get through it is to enjoy the good memories from the previous season, and will help relive some of the 2011 highlights with "Signature snaps," a series of top five lists of notable plays.

The series features a description of the plays selected, a video to watch, and a poll in which fans can vote for their favorite.

First up are the top five running plays from last season, listed here in chronological order. The Packers weren't a running team by any means, but there are some good memories here nonetheless.

James Starks, 17-yard TD vs. New Orleans

In the season opener, Starks picked up right where he left off in the postseason the year before. Late in the second quarter, the Packers led, 21-17, and were threatening to score again when Starks took advantage of an almost flawlessly blocked play.

With the handoff going to the left side, left tackle Chad Clifton steered the defensive end wide, receiver Donald Driver, center Scott Wells and left guard T.J. Lang all sustained solid blocks downfield, while right guard Josh Sitton threw a great cut-block on a back-side pursuer.

Starks then broke two tackles and carried a third tackler into the end zone to give the Packers an 11-point halftime lead.

Starks, 40-yarder at Carolina

The following week, the Packers had recovered from an early 13-0 deficit and had a 17-13 lead over the Panthers when Starks helped them add to it.

On the first play following a second consecutive takeaway by the Green Bay defense, Starks blew through a huge hole on the right side and was off to the races for 40 yards, helping set up a field goal.

The run turned out to be Starks' longest of the season, and the Packers' longest of 2011 through the season's first 12 games.

Aaron Rodgers, 11-yard TD vs. Denver

In a tour de force game for Rodgers in which he accounted for six TDs (four passing, two rushing), this scoring run was rather memorable.

The Packers had just taken a 14-3 lead, recovered an onside kick and driven into the red zone. On first down, Rodgers was unable to find an open receiver and wasted no time taking off through the open space up the middle. He took a pretty big hit at the goal line, but that didn't stop him from popping right back up and putting on "the belt" for one of the only times in 2011.

B.J. Raji, 1-yard TD vs. Tampa Bay

In the 2010 playoffs, Raji got to block for John Kuhn on a short TD plunge in Atlanta and proceeded to nickname himself "The Freezer." In this game, Raji got to make that plunge.

On second-and-goal late in the first quarter of a scoreless game, Raji lined up as a fullback in front of Kuhn and took the quick handoff. Running straight ahead behind Sitton and tight-end-in-motion Tom Crabtree, Raji easily crossed the goal line, even though it took the officials several seconds to signal the score.

Ryan Grant, 47-yard TD vs. Oakland

Similar to the Starks run back in the opener, the left side of the line all did the job here and gave Grant a hole to slip through. Then Grant eluded one diving tackle attempt, got a great block on the outside from receiver Jordy Nelson, and took off.

Criticized much of the season for looking a step slow following his 2010 ankle surgery, Grant ran away from the pursuit for his and Green Bay's longest run of the season. The score came on the Packers' second play from scrimmage in this game and set the tone for a 46-16 rout.

Don't forget to watch the video and cast a vote for your favorite.

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