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Top 10 moments that got Packers the No. 1 seed for NFC playoffs

A rundown of the most pivotal plays on the way to 13 wins

CB Rasul Douglas
CB Rasul Douglas

GREEN BAY – The Packers won 13 regular-season games for the third season in a row, and as is always the case, many of those victories hinged on a critical game-changing or momentum-turning play.

Here's a list of the top 10 from 2021, in chronological order, on the Packers' road to the No. 1 seed for the NFC playoffs.

1. Threading the needle: In Week 2 vs. Detroit, the Packers were coming off their opening dud against New Orleans and trailed the Lions, 17-14, at halftime in the first NFC North matchup of the season.

To begin the second half, Green Bay drove the length of the field and faced third-and-6 from the Detroit 22-yard line when QB Aaron Rodgers fired a dart to TE Robert Tonyan at the goal line. Lions LB Alex Anzalone was all over Tonyan but had his back turned to the ball, which whizzed right past his ear for a touchdown that gave the Packers the lead for good.

2. Davante times two: The following week the Packers trailed the 49ers, 28-27, and had the ball on their own 25-yard line with 37 seconds left and no timeouts. No problem.

Rodgers hit a pair of passes to WR Davante Adams, first for 25 yards and then for 17 more, spiking the ball to stop the clock after each one. With just three seconds left, K Mason Crosby drilled a 51-yard field goal for the walk-off win.

3. Kicking kraziness: Two weeks later in Cincinnati saw one of the most bizarre game-ending sequences in NFL history.

With the score tied at 22, Crosby lined up for a 36-yard field goal with just over two minutes left and missed. Then Bengals K Evan McPherson tried a 57-yarder and missed, leaving 21 seconds on the clock.

In a shades-of-San-Francisco scenario, Rodgers connected with Adams for 20 yards, spiked the ball with three seconds left, and Crosby got another try from the exact same distance as two weeks prior, 51 yards. Except he missed this time.

In overtime, an interception by LB De'Vondre Campbell on the first snap set Crosby up for a third attempt, from 40 yards, and he inexplicably missed again. The Bengals drove the other way to give McPherson another shot, and he missed from 49.

Ultimately, a 15-yard pass to WR Randall Cobb on third-and-16 at the two-minute warning of overtime gave the Packers a challenging decision to make. Go for it on fourth-and-1 to get closer, or send Crosby out for a fourth kick, this one from 49 yards. They chose the latter, and Crosby finally made it.

4. Clark closes the door: In Week 6 at Chicago, the Packers led 24-14 in the fourth quarter, but the Bears had a first down at the Green Bay 32-yard line with just under four minutes left and all three timeouts. They were in position to make it a one-score game and work to get the ball back.

But Packers DL Kenny Clark put an end to it. He sacked Bears QB Justin Fields twice in a span of three plays, for 23 total yards in losses, and Chicago failed on fourth-and-long, effectively ending the game early.

5. Dagger from Douglas: Just 11 days later on a Thursday night, the Packers were facing the league's lone remaining unbeaten team, the Cardinals. In command of the game most of the way, Green Bay failed to seal the game on offense, getting stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 3:23 left.

Trailing 24-21, the Cardinals drove 94 yards and called their last timeout with 15 seconds left, facing second-and-goal from the 5-yard line. QB Kyler Murray tried to beat the Packers' all-out blitz with a quick fade to WR A.J. Green, but Green never looked for the ball and Packers CB Rasul Douglas – signed off of Arizona's practice squad just a few weeks earlier – intercepted the pass in the end zone.

Douglas had provided the ultimate payback to the team that didn't want him, and the Packers had run their winning streak to seven games since their Week 1 loss.

6. Defensive dominance: In Week 10 vs. Seattle, Rodgers had returned from his bout with COVID but was playing for the first time on a broken pinky toe and the Packers' offense wasn't in sync. But Green Bay's defense was dominating Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who was back from finger surgery.

In the fourth quarter, the Packers had just scored the game's first touchdown to take a 10-0 lead. On Seattle's ensuing drive, with a first down at the Green Bay 43, Wilson tried to go deep for WR Tyler Lockett, but Packers S Adrian Amos was back there to haul in the interception in the end zone.

The Packers then embarked on a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that included a 50-yard catch-and-run by RB AJ Dillon to put the game away, and the defense had pitched its first shutout since 2018.

7. Douglas dazzles again: Two weeks later against the Rams, a back-and-forth game saw the Packers leading, 30-17, late in the third quarter when Douglas stepped in front of a third-down pass from Rams QB Matthew Stafford intended for WR Cooper Kupp.

Douglas intercepted it and ran it back 33 yards for a touchdown, the first of his two pick-sixes on the year, putting the Packers in complete command of the contest.

8. Fast and furious: Following their bye, the Packers hosted the Bears in prime time and had their hands full, trailing 27-21 at the half. Then the game turned in just over a minute of clock time with a furious rally.

RB Aaron Jones capped the opening drive of the second half with a 3-yard TD run. Two snaps into Chicago's next drive, LB Preston Smith's strip-sack forced Fields to fumble, with LB Rashan Gary recovering, and the Packers needed just one play to score again, a 23-yard TD pass to Jones on an improvised play by Rodgers.

9. Two-pointer turned away: At Baltimore in Week 15, the Packers led 31-17 midway through the fourth quarter when Ravens backup QB Tyler Huntley led an impressive comeback. Huntley finished TD drives of 75 and 49 yards by running into the end zone twice, but after the second score with 42 seconds left, the Ravens decided to go for two points and the lead.

Seeing Huntley staring right at star tight end Mark Andrews on the two-point play, Packers S Darnell Savage made a bee line for the pylon and got a piece of Huntley's pass, which then deflected off rookie CB Eric Stokes' shoulder, and Baltimore was denied. The Packers hung on for a 31-30 triumph that clinched their third straight NFC North title.

10. Yet another Douglas dagger: On Christmas Day, the Packers were again seemingly in command, leading the Browns 24-12 in the second half. But back came Cleveland and QB Baker Mayfield, who got the Browns within 24-22 and drove to midfield with less than a minute to play.

Enter another heroic moment by Douglas, who undercut the route by WR Donovan Peoples-Jones for a game-saving interception, his team-leading fifth on the season.

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