GREEN BAY – The numbers said Packers safety Adrian Amos had a solid game Saturday night – seven tackles, three passes broken up, one sack.
The film showed just how reliable and dependable he is in so many aspects of defensive play.
Here's a sampling, and stay tuned to the end for a couple of bonus plays involving the other defensive standout against the Panthers, rookie linebacker Krys Barnes.
Play No. 1: Second-and-4 from the Carolina 29, first quarter, 14:22 left
Result: 2-yard completion to WR DJ Moore
On the second snap of the game, the Panthers try some play-action misdirection, which the Packers run frequently. Amos (31) isn't fooled in the slightest, staying home on the back side to pick up Moore (12) sprinting across from the other side of the formation. Amos' presence allows LB Christian Kirksey (58) to drop back and pick up WR Robby Anderson (11) on the intermediate cross, and the play doesn't get much.
Play No. 2: Fourth-and-1 from the Green Bay 13, second quarter, 8:06 left
Result: 12-yard run by RB Rodney Smith
Why is an explosive run on fourth-and-short included here? Because it's the forgotten play of the game. Amos saves the touchdown – the only defender who had a chance to do so – and on the next play Barnes swats the ball out of QB Teddy Bridgewater's hands on the sneak to create the game-changing turnover.
When the Packers overplay the middle, Smith (35) bounces to his right into a huge lane, and he's got WR Curtis Samuel (10) out in front to block for him. Amos manages to avoid Samuel and perfectly time his dive to trip up Smith just short of the goal line. The Panthers are looking at this on film knowing it should have been a TD.
Play No. 3: Third-and-10 from the Carolina 25, second quarter, 1:10 left
Result: Incomplete pass
This is the second of Amos' three pass breakups in the game. He just had his first two snaps earlier. Here, it's not just about the play on the ball to knock it away, but the fundamental footwork employed to stay with Samuel. Watch closely as Samuel starts his shake move at the top of the route. Amos plants both feet in the ground, giving him a two-way go – the ability to shift either direction. He hangs right with Samuel on the inside cut and bats the ball down.
Play No. 4: First-and-10 from the Carolina 46, third quarter, 12:52 left
Result: Zero-yard sack by Amos
Speaking of fundamentals, Amos displays textbook open-field defense here. As Bridgewater escapes the pocket to his right, due to interior pressure from DL Kenny Clark (97), Amos is the lone defender on that entire side of the field. But no worries. He breaks down, stays square, continues to force Bridgewater toward the boundary and makes the play. The cherry on top is the official stat – because Amos gets him at the line of scrimmage for no gain, he's credited with his second sack of the season.
Play No. 5: Second-and-goal from the Green Bay 7, fourth quarter, 9:41 left
Result: Incomplete pass
Here's Amos' third pass breakup on the night, and the most important, as the Packers eventually hold the Panthers to a field goal on this drive. Again, the play on the ball is solid, but it's the anticipation and reaction to the route by Anderson that allows Amos to make the play.
Play No. 6: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 20, fourth quarter, :55 left
Result: Intentional grounding penalty
It's debatable whether Bridgewater had an opportunity for a downfield throw to TE Ian Thomas (80) before the pass rush from DL Kingsley Keke (96) and LB Preston Smith (91) gets to him. But it's still worth watching how quickly Amos closes on Thomas' stop route in the middle of the field. That's just solid anticipatory defense.
The other defensive star of the game was Barnes, of course, for the big turnover. Here's a two-play sequence that shows the range of the undrafted rookie linebacker's abilities, which occurs right after the sack by Amos in play No. 4 above.
Second-and-10 from the Carolina 46, third quarter, 12:45 left
Result: Completion to RB Mike Davis for a 6-yard loss
Defending screen passes is all about recognition and reaction. Barnes sees this screen to Davis developing immediately and cuts it loose, beating the block of C Matt Paradis (61) and burying Davis way behind the line of scrimmage
Third-and-16 from the Carolina 40, third quarter, 12:03 left
Result: 6-yard completion to Smith
On the next snap, the Packers drop seven defenders deep in coverage, and Bridgewater has all kinds of time to scan the field. But look who ends up running with Samuel on the deepest route down the middle – it's Barnes – and he doesn't let the speedy receiver get any space, helping to force Bridgewater to take the check-down throw, and the defense gets off the field.