GREEN BAY – As much as Minnesota likes to blitz its linebackers and safeties, the pass-protection responsibilities for the Packers' running backs were a high priority on Sunday, especially with QB Aaron Rodgers playing on one bad knee.
Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams were more than up to the job, as this handful of plays illustrates. As a bonus, there's also a change-up Rodgers threw at the Vikings against one blitz call, and a more extensive look at the blocked punt that got the Packers on the board early in the game.
Play No. 1: Third-and-7 from the Green Bay 28, first quarter, 1:28 left
Result: Rodgers scrambles for the first down
This is a defensive look the Vikings employ frequently, with two potential blitzers positioned on either side of the center (the double-A-gap), and one, both, or neither might come after the quarterback. The protection call has to account for all possibilities. In this case, the two "muggers" are LB Eric Kendricks (54) and S Harrison Smith (22). At the snap, Smith drops back into coverage, which frees up C Corey Linsley to help on the right side, and Kendricks is Montgomery's man. Not only does Montgomery get the block, but watch how he finishes it as Rodgers scrambles up the middle to move the chains.
Play No. 2: Second-and-7 from the Minnesota 22, second quarter, 13:23 left
Result: 13-yard completion to WR Davante Adams
This one is more straightforward, with LB Anthony Barr (55) blitzing between the guard and tackle, and it's Williams' task to pick him up. He does, and actually stymies him for at least four seconds as Adams eventually breaks into the clear for the completion. The Packers' offense found the end zone for the only time on the day on the very next play.
Play No. 3: Third-and-10 from the Green Bay 9, second quarter, 5:38 left
Result: Offensive pass interference on Adams
Unfortunately, the Packers don't get the big gain due to a questionable push-off called on Adams along the sideline. But that doesn't take away from the job Montgomery does taking the A-gap blitzing Smith out of the play, allowing Rodgers to buy time for a pinpoint throw.
Play No. 4: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 36, fourth quarter, 12:37 left
Result: 22-yard completion to WR Geronimo Allison
This time, Smith blitzes outside of LT David Bakhtiari, and once again, Montgomery is right there to stop him in his tracks as Rodgers gets the pass away. Allison does the rest with some productive yards after the catch, and the Packers are on the move again.
Play No. 5: First-and-10 from the Minnesota 42, fourth quarter, 11:47 left
Result: 7-yard completion to Williams
Here's the change-up. On the next snap, it would appear Williams' responsibility is Barr, much like Play No. 2, but on the other side of the formation. Only this time, watch closely pre-snap. As the suspended camera slides over obstructing the view of Rodgers, the QB points at Williams, who glances back to acknowledge the instruction. Turns out Rodgers is giving Williams permission to forget about Barr and leak out into the flat for a pass. Barr comes unblocked, but Rodgers dumps the ball off immediately for a nice first-down gain.
Play No. 6: Fourth-and-16 from the Minnesota 15, first quarter, 7:33 left
Result: Blocked punt for a Packers touchdown
The blocked punt is worth a closer look because schematically there's a lot going on. First off, as noted with the numbers, the Packers have four rushers on the right side and three on the left. That keeps the Vikings' up man or personal protector (marked with an X) on that side, even though the Packers actually drop one of those four rushers at the snap.
On the other side, that leaves three Vikings against the three Packers, only here comes CB Josh Jackson (37) streaking in from the outside and changing the equation. Jackson's rush draws Minnesota's wingback on that side to slide over and pick him up, which produces a free (and much shorter) lane to the punter for WR Geronimo Allison, who gets the block. Jackson snags the deflection in midair, and the Packers get their first blocked punt for a score since 2012.