GREEN BAY – Regular viewers and readers of “What You Might’ve Missed” over the years know that an opportunity to dig into a goal-line stand is never passed up.
The Packers came up with a big one Sunday night in New England, stopping the Patriots on four straight plays from the 1-yard line to keep the game tied at 17 in the third quarter.
At least a half dozen Green Bay defenders contributed mightily to keeping New England out of the end zone on this sequence. Here’s the breakdown:
Play No. 1: First-and-goal from the Green Bay 1, third quarter, 8:04 left
Result: No gain for RB James White
The first key to this play is DL Mike Daniels (76), who stands up and pushes back LG Joe Thuney (62) at the snap. Watch Thuney’s feet, which go from the 2-yard line back to the 3-yard line almost instantly. That helps free up LB Blake Martinez (50) to dart through the traffic unblocked, partly because both LT Trent Brown (77) and FB James Develin (45) target the same man for their block, S Josh Jones (27), while no one blocks Martinez.
Play No. 2: Second-and-goal from the Green Bay 1, third quarter, 7:29 left
Result: No gain for WR Cordarrelle Patterson
This time it’s Jones, slightly hidden by LB Nick Perry (53) and with a long arrow pointing to his backside, who’s the unblocked man. He swoops in to get Patterson around the legs and bring him down. But the other required piece is Martinez standing up to Develin’s full-steam-ahead block right at the goal line. Because Martinez is able to hold his ground, Patterson collides with the bodies in his way and his rear end goes down before his body extends the ball across the goal line, which is seen on the replay review and reverses the initial touchdown call, which had bummed out Jones as he walked away.
Play No. 3: Third-and-goal from the Green Bay 1, third quarter, 7:13 left
Result: Incomplete pass
Two key tandems of Green Bay defenders to watch here. First, it’s CBs Jaire Alexander (23) and Tramon Williams (38) on the outside, who deftly defend a classic Patriots pick play run by WRs Julian Edelman (11) and Chris Hogan (15). There’s no collision and virtually no wasted steps as Alexander picks up Edelman and Williams drops back on Hogan. No easy task. The other tandem is Jones and CB Josh Jackson, who smoothly share responsibility on TE Dwayne Allen as he runs interference for rolling-out QB Tom Brady. Jackson holds his ground just long enough for Jones to get leverage on Allen, and then Jackson turns his focus solely to Brady near the boundary, getting in the passing lane for the deflection just as Hogan finds a sliver of daylight.
Play No. 4: Fourth-and-goal from the Green Bay 1, third quarter, 7:06 left
Result: Incomplete pass
Last but not least, it’s Martinez and Perry both charging off the edge, and when Brown up front and White in the backfield get their protection signals crossed, neither Patriots player blocks either Packers defender, allowing two rushers to get in Brady’s face and rush the throw. Green Bay also catches a break when WR Josh Gordon (10) loses his footing when he tries to make his break in the end zone, and he has no chance to catch the hurried pass.