GREEN BAY – Not one, but two, and almost three.
The Packers hadn't had a kickoff return of longer than 50 yards since receiver Jeff Janis brought one back 70 yards in 2015.
Cornerback and return specialist Keisean Nixon ran back two of 50-plus on Sunday night in Philadelphia in the fourth quarter, and an earlier one came close to that mark as well.
In chronological order, here's a breakdown of how those three returns broke big and why they were so productive.
Fair warning: There's a lot to watch for and extensive text descriptions for each of these, so focus on one or two highlighted items at a time, and let the videos cycle through their multiple runs to catch the others.
Play No. 1: Kickoff with Eagles leading 13-0, first quarter, 9:02 left
Result: 38-yard return by Nixon
This first one provides a glimpse into how chaotic kickoff returns can be, but the Packers also execute very solid blocks. At the freeze frame, here are the blocks to watch, in order as highlighted: 1. LB Jonathan Garvin (53), LB Eric Wilson (45) and TE Josiah Deguara triple-teaming Eagles LB Kyron Johnson (58); 2. TE Tyler Davis (84) taking down S Reed Blankenship (32); 3. RB Patrick Taylor (27) locking up WR Zach Pascal (3) on the outside; and the most important of all, hence the star, 4. LB Kingsley Enagbare (55) picking off hard-charging S K'Von Wallace (42) to create open space. From the sky view, it's interesting to see how Enagbare almost hides himself between two teammates and then jumps into Wallace's running lane, like surprising someone in an alley. That's the key block that springs Nixon, and by flying across the action, Enagbare also happens to get a piece of LB Shaun Bradley (54) amidst all the traffic to Nixon's right. CB Corey Ballentine (35) doesn't get a good block on S Andre Chachere (21), but the speedy Nixon makes him miss in the hole to get out across the 40-yard line. Four plays later, the Packers are in the end zone and on the board.
Play No. 2: Opening second-half kickoff with Eagles leading 27-20
Result: 52-yard return by Nixon
Less chaos, more textbook here. Nixon brings the ball out from 5 yards deep in the end zone, but it's quickly evident the Packers have this all blocked up. At the freeze frame, there isn't a single missed block across the board, which makes for a nice picture. But three blocks in particular are worth highlighting: 1. Deguara nearly loses leverage on Johnson but stays in position long enough for Nixon to get past him and up to full speed; 2. Wilson gives absolutely no ground to LB Nakobe Dean (17); and 3. S Innis Gaines (38), called up from the practice squad for this game, knocks CB Zech McPhearson (27) backward with his initial contact, which opens up an even bigger lane than was already developing between Wilson and Gaines. Ballentine leads Nixon through the hole without really anyone to block because the Eagles' last line of defense is on its heels. Only a sharp heads-up play by Chachere (starred), who turns and chases early from the backside without getting caught up in the wash, prevents Nixon from possibly having only the kicker to beat in order to take this to the house. Unfortunately, the Packers go three-and-out and the great field position is wasted.
Play No. 3: Kickoff with Eagles leading 40-30, fourth quarter, 2:16 left
Result: 53-yard return by Nixon
Nixon brings this one out from 6 yards deep, and he deserves a lot of credit for his instincts and vision (more on that below). At the freeze frame, the blocks most worth monitoring are as follows: 1. Taylor gets shucked off by Wallace, but it takes Wallace so much effort he pulls himself off-balance and out of the play at the point of attack as Nixon runs by him; 2. LB Justin Hollins (47), a new arrival, and Davis double-team Johnson, who really battles to fight through it, but the combination of just enough interference plus Nixon's shiftiness renders him helpless; and 3. Wilson and Gaines double-team TE Grant Calceterra (81) a little further downfield and simply don't let up as the return develops. Their persistence pays off big-time here. As for Nixon, his running skills are impressively on display. The initial move to his left baits two Eagles players (boxed) into going the wrong way – RB Kenneth Gainwell (14), who has beaten Garvin's block, and Dean – and Nixon breaks free with a quick cut-back and another move to get past an unblocked Chachere. Turns out it's Wallace (block No. 1 above) who saves the TD this time, as he's able to get back in the play and chase down Nixon just after he dodges the kicker. No one else for the Eagles would've had a shot.