GREEN BAY – It never ceases to amaze, given how productive Packers receiver Davante Adams is, that he still gets open as often as he does.
So how does he? Sometimes it's his footwork and release off the line of scrimmage. Other times the Packers' route combinations draw attention elsewhere. On occasion, quarterback Aaron Rodgers fits the ball into the tightest of windows, and/or the pass protection is so superb there's plenty of time to find an opening.
A combination of any or all of the above can be in play, too, and that was certainly the case during Adams' career-high 206-yard day in Cincinnati – the first 200-yard game by a Packers receiver since 2014, when former teammate Jordy Nelson hit 209 during Adams' rookie year.
Here's an extensive look.
Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 25, first quarter, 1:15 left
Result: 17-yard completion to Adams
Might as well start with the footwork, and on his first catch Adams' move at the line spins around CB Chidobe Awuzie (22), who had an interception earlier on a sideline route. Rodgers is looking Adams' direction the whole time, and when he sees Awuzie spin around, he knows the defender has no chance.
Play No. 2: Third-and-12 from the Green Bay 40, second quarter, 14:16 left
Result: 34-yard completion to Adams
Two snaps later after the quarter break, scheme does the trick, as both WR Allen Lazard (13) and WR Randall Cobb (18) run go routes from the two slot positions on Adams' side of the field. Those occupy the two deep safeties and keep them moving backwards. Meanwhile, TE Robert Tonyan (85), after throwing an effective chip block on DE Trey Hendrickson (91), attracts enough attention from the underneath defenders to open a huge hole in the middle of the field for Adams to find for a huge third-down conversion.
Play No. 3: First-and-10 from the Cincinnati 49, second quarter, 8:59 left
Result: 24-yard completion to Adams
This time it's the deep route by WR Equanimeous St. Brown (19) that takes both deep safeties out of the play. It also draws an ever-so-quick glance from LB Logan Wilson (55), a regrettable move on his part that provides just enough time and space for Adams to pick up another chunk of yards.
Play No. 4: Third-and-6 from the Green Bay 23, second quarter, 4:41 left
Result: 15-yard completion to Adams
Back to Lazard providing the distraction, as his post-corner route pulls both S Jessie Bates (30) and Wilson out of the middle of the field, right where Adams is heading for another third-down conversion.
Play No. 5: Second-and-10 from the Cincinnati 35, second quarter, 2:00 left
Result: 22-yard completion to Adams
Remember the comment about tight windows in the intro above? Here you go. The Packers go max protection here, using seven players to block four up front. That means the Bengals have seven defenders against three on routes, so there won't be anybody wide open. The protection is so stable it allows Rodgers to actually double-clutch before letting it go, and this end-zone shot shows just how precise the throw has to be. Adams isn't really open, but with CB Eli Apple (20) having his back turned, that's all Rodgers needs.
Play No. 6: Third-and-3 from the Green Bay 25, third quarter, 12:01 left
Result: 8-yard completion to Adams
This is simply read the defense, make a move at the line, and fire the ball. Adams goes in motion, and when CB Mike Hilton (21) follows him all the way across, it confirms man-to-man coverage. So with a shake move, the ball is out, and the chains are moved.
Play No. 7: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 35, fourth quarter, 13:51 left
Result: 59-yard completion to Adams
Here's the biggie, and there's no need to show Adams' route, because all he does is split the corner and safety with his speed. The protection is worth a look, though, as the Packers go 6-on-4, with two double teams in the middle and single blocks on the edge, which includes TE Marcedes Lewis (89) holding off the Bengals' best pass rusher, Hendrickson. The pocket is perfectly formed and clean as can be, allowing time for the deep route and plenty of space for Rodgers to step and fire.
Play No. 8: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 47, fourth quarter, :21 left
Result: 20-yard completion to Adams
This play was a carbon copy of the one two weeks prior that set up the game-winning field goal in San Francisco in more ways than one – not just the in route, the yardage, and the ensuing spike to stop the clock with 3 seconds left, but also the protection. Just like out west, RB Aaron Jones (33) and Tonyan chip the edge rushers, DE Sam Hubbard (94) and Hendrickson, to help. Also, with the throw slightly behind Adams, he shows his incredibly strong hands to snatch it without Awuzie being able to knock it away.
Bonus play: Third-and-16 from the Cincinnati 47, overtime, 2:33 left
Result: 15-yard completion to Cobb
This isn't Adams, but it's worth showing the play that did set up the game-winner because two offensive linemen who wouldn't be starting if the Packers were healthy up front – LT Yosh Nijman (73) and LG Jon Runyan (76) – make this happen. When Hendrickson comes off the chip block from Jones, he runs a stunt with DT Larry Ogunjobi (65) that Green Bay's two young linemen play well. Nijman picks up Ogunjobi, while Runyan adjusts to get just enough of the looping Hendrickson to keep him off Rodgers until the throw is away.