GREEN BAY – Packers defensive lineman Jarran Reed, like many at his position, is a grunt-work player.
But on Sunday vs. the Cowboys, Reed made one of the biggest plays of the season, getting ahold of Dallas QB Dak Prescott on fourth-and-3 in overtime, forcing an incomplete pass to get the defense off the field.
Interestingly, the game film shows more than just the one key play. After not being much of a factor in the first half, Reed steadily became a presence in the second half, as though his game was building toward the climactic moment.
Here's a chronological rundown.
Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Dallas 5, third quarter, 10:39 left
Result: 1-yard sack by Clark
Reed (90) nearly makes a huge play here on the Cowboys' first snap of the second half. He beats RT Terence Steele (78) with a nice swim move and gets a free run at Prescott in the end zone. Unfortunately, he misses the potential safety as Prescott ducks his shoulder under the tackle to scramble away from the goal line, and his teammate Clark gets the clean-up sack.
Play No. 2: Third-and-6 from the Dallas 9, third quarter, 9:22 left
Result: 3-yard completion to WR Noah Brown
Two plays later, Reed almost gets home again, this time beating LG Connor McGovern (66) and laying one of his team-high three QB hits on Prescott as the defense gets a three-and-out to start the second half.
Play No. 3: Second-and-10 from the Dallas 12, fourth quarter, 13:12 left
Result: 4-yard run by RB Tony Pollard
Give Reed credit here for second effort. As he's getting blocked by Steele and moving laterally, he trips over the back of the legs of RG Zack Martin (70), creating a potential cutback lane for Pollard. But Reed springs right back up to grab hold of Pollard after only a modest gain.
Play No. 4: First-and-10 from the Dallas 36, fourth quarter, 10:30 left
Result: Zero-yard completion to WR Michael Gallup
Taking a break from the focus on Reed for a moment, this play is included because it's the first of the three-play series that gets the defense off the field and the ball back to the offense for the game-tying touchdown drive. And the way it starts is a lesson in film study and communication. As WR CeeDee Lamb (88) begins to go in motion, CB Rasul Douglas (29) appears to know what's coming. Douglas starts pointing, and presumably hollering, to his counterpart CB Jaire Alexander (23) on the other side of the field to be ready for the ball to come his way. Whether Alexander saw/heard him or not isn't clear, but he's in position to tackle Gallup at the line of scrimmage, putting Dallas behind the chains on this crucial series.
Play No. 5: Second-and-10 from the Dallas 36, fourth quarter, 9:50 left
Result: 1-yard run by Pollard
Back to Reed's impact on second down, as he absorbs a double-team from Martin and C Tyler Biadasz (63), holding his own to clog up the middle on Pollard. Meanwhile, Clark shoves McGovern to the ground to collapse everything, and the whole time both LBs Isaiah McDuffie (58) and Quay Walker (7) are kept clean to fill the gaps on either side of the two D-linemen. Solid run defense sets up third-and-long.
Play No. 6: Third-and-9 from the Dallas 37, fourth quarter, 9:13 left
Result: Incomplete pass
Here's another notable play by Reed combined with the smarts and savvy of LB Preston Smith (91). Reed jet rushes up the field against McGovern while Smith is getting chip-blocked by TE Peyton Hendershot (89). Smith anticipates that Reed's penetration will prompt Prescott to step up in the pocket, so he cuts inside the traditional edge-rush path to drill Prescott just as he's trying to throw to Hendershot. The defense gets the stop, and the offense has plenty of time to drive for the tying score.
Play No. 7: Second-and-19 from the Dallas 49, overtime, 7:04 left
Result: 16-yard completion to TE Dalton Schultz
Why is a positive Cowboys play that nearly converts their long-yardage situation in OT included here? Because it shows Reed executing nearly a carbon copy of the successful rush he's going to get two plays later. Here, he fights through the initial double-team by McGovern and Biadasz, but gets to Prescott just a tick late.
Play No. 8: Fourth-and-3 from the Green Bay 35, overtime, 6:21 left
Result: Incomplete pass
And finally, after all that work, on his 57th snap of the night, is Reed's big moment. Initially, it looks like he'll have to deal with the same McGovern-Biadasz double-team from second down, but fortunately, Biadasz peels off to help against Clark. Reed is able to get his arms around Prescott, who clearly has plenty of room to run for the first down. But not only can he not get away, he also struggles to pull the ball up into throwing position due to Reed's persistence. A desperation flip to Pollard is too high, and the Packers have gotten the game's key, and final, stop.