What You Might've Missed: Closing the door

A lot of little things went into Packers’ two defensive stops down the stretch


GREEN BAY – The Packers closed out the Jaguars on Sunday with two defensive stops in the final five minutes, but there was more to it than just incomplete passes and sacks.

Little things contributed here and there on the two sequences that shut the door on Jacksonville in the fourth quarter.

Here's a rundown:

Play No. 1: Second-and-10 from the 50, fourth quarter, 4:27 left

Result: Incomplete pass

There are several keys to this play. First is how deftly CB Ka'dar Hollman (29) and S Raven Greene (24) navigate the crossing routes by WR Chris Conley (18) and TE Tyler Eifert (88) without getting tangled up. Second is the edge pressure from LB Preston Smith (91), which hurries rookie QB Jake Luton (6) into locking onto the shallow route and feeling like he has to get rid of the ball. Third is Hollman's closing speed as he erases the gap between himself and Conley cutting over the middle. And fourth is the read and reaction by S Adrian Amos (31), who pulls double duty. He smartly stays inside the in-breaking route by WR Keelan Cole Sr. (84) around the 40-yard line, making it hard for Luton to think that route is available, but the whole time Amos is reading Luton's eyes on the shallow cross to Conley. He makes a strong break to the flat and would have been in good position on Conley even if Hollman hadn't been.

Play No. 2: Third-and-10 from the 50, fourth quarter, 4:20 left

Result: Incomplete pass

Never discount the effect of pressure, especially on a rookie QB. LB Rashan Gary (52) beats RT Jawaan Taylor (75) around the edge and again hurries him into a quick decision, which is to dump the ball off to Eifert. With Gary forcing Luton to step up into a collapsing Preston Smith from the other edge, the QB has no time to wait for his safety valve, RB Dare Ogunbowale (33), to slip out for the checkdown, where a one-on-one is developing with LB Christian Kirksey (58) and a lot of green grass to the near side of the field. The hasty throw is behind Eifert and an easy deflection for Greene to force the punt.

Play No. 3: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 36, fourth quarter, 1:37 left

Result: Incomplete pass

Those watching the TV broadcast did not miss the outstanding recognition on this play by DL Kenny Clark (97), who snuffs out the screen pass when C Tyler Shatley (69) doesn't sell it enough at the snap. Clark makes a whale of a play, as his actions also bring fellow DL Tyler Lancaster(95) to defend the screen as well. But it's also worth pointing out the alertness of Kirksey, who maintains proper leverage on the block attempt by Shatley and flat-out beats him on the play. Kirksey would have been in position to wreck the screen even if Clark hadn't.

Play No. 4: Second-and-10 from the Green Bay 36, fourth quarter, 1:33 left

Result: 6-yard sack by Gary

Gary follows up his good pressure from Play No. 2 above with a sack this time, once again beating Taylor around the edge. But it's fun to watch this sack from behind the QB to see what actually happened. As Gary is getting Taylor to retreat deep into the pocket on one side, LB Za'Darius Smith (55) is doing the same with LT Cam Robinson (74) on the other side. The result – watch closely – is the left foot of each offensive tackle steps on one of Luton's feet, and the brief moment Luton maybe has a chance to escape the pocket, he can't move and Gary buries him. He probably wouldn't have gotten away from Gary anyway, but with both feet tripped by his own guys, he was trapped.

Play No. 5: Third-and-16 from the Green Bay 42, fourth quarter, 1:24 left

Result: 10-yard sack by Preston Smith

Nothing quite as curious on the follow-up sack, but in comparing it to the previous one, it's interesting to note that while the edge rushers got the offensive tackles' feet in the QB's way on Gary's sack, this time Preston Smith and Gary take it a step further and literally get the blockers' entire bodies back into Luton's spot. Credit Preston for keeping the motor running and powering through the traffic as Luton escapes, and for timing his dive and reach just right.


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