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What You Might've Missed: Quiet, substantial impact

Packers DL Kenny Clark did more than make two of the biggest defensive plays of the game


GREEN BAY – With his forced fumble and batted pass in the fourth quarter, Packers defensive lineman Kenny Clark made arguably the two biggest defensive plays of the game in the win over the Chargers.

And those are certainly worth taking another look at.

But the one tackle on Clark's stat sheet doesn't truly illustrate the quiet, valuable impact he had in playing 50 of Green Bay's 65 defensive snaps.

Here's a rundown, including the two big highlights.

Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the LA 14, first quarter, 8:00 left

Result: 3-yard run by RB Austin Ekeler

This is the definition of doing the unheralded dirty work. As Ekeler takes the direct snap, runs left and fakes the reverse, Clark is double-teamed by LT Rashawn Slater (70) and LG Zion Johnson (77). But he holds his ground long enough and gets enough push that Ekeler can't cut upfield until the double-team has left LB Preston Smith (91). At that point, Smith shakes the single block of TE Donald Parham Jr. (89) and makes the tackle for a minimal gain.

Play No. 2: Second-and-7 from the LA 17, first quarter, 7:19 left

Result: 3-yard run by Ekeler

On the next snap, Clark is lined up on the other side, with another run coming his way. This time, he gets leverage on the outside shoulder of RT Trey Pipkins III (79) and effectively sets the edge, even though LB De'Vondre Campbell (59) is the edge defender here due to a change-up alignment that has both Smith and LB Rashan Gary (52) on the same side. Clark's penetration forces Ekeler right into the arms of DL Devonte Wyatt (95) for another minimal gain.

Play No. 3: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 12, first quarter, 2:53 left

Result: 1-yard run by RB Joshua Kelley

Here it's Campbell making the tackle, with DL Colby Wooden (96) helping clean up. But Clark makes the play with a nifty swim move to beat Pipkins, get into the backfield, and limit Kelley's options.

Play No. 4: Second-and-goal from the Green Bay 2, fourth quarter, 12:54 left

Result: Fumble by Ekeler, recovered by LB Rashan Gary

This is the monumental fumble Clark forces with the punch out after Ekeler slips and then gets the handoff late. But it's what Clark does right at the snap that puts him in position to cause the turnover. Defensive linemen call it "knock back" at the line of scrimmage when they win on initial contact, and knock back is exactly what Clark gets here against C Will Clapp (76). Check out Clapp's feet. They end up two yards back from where they are when he snaps the ball. Smith also puts himself in good position on the edge as motioning TE Nick Vannett (83) misses his blocking assignment.

Play No. 5: Second-and-8 from the LA 39, fourth quarter, 10:23 left

Result: Incomplete pass

Unfortunately, Clark doesn't get the sack here, but his pressure along with that of Smith forces basically a throwaway. Clark tosses Clapp aside like nothing, while Smith beats Slater around the edge. QB Justin Herbert avoids the lost yardage, and a potential interception, by living to play another down. Before he leaves the picture frame, Clark shows he's happy with the result, even though CB Carrington Valentine (37) was hoping for an INT.

Play No. 6: Third-and-10 from the LA 25, fourth quarter, 2:26 left

Result: 10-yard sack by Gary

This is Gary's big third-down sack to end the Chargers' second-to-last possession, but it's Clark who makes first contact with Herbert. His powerful bull rush puts Johnson on skates, all the way into the pocket and Herbert's lap. Herbert doesn't go down easily, as Smith gets a hand on him too, but eventually Gary finishes the job.

Play No. 7: Fourth-and-1 from the LA 35, fourth quarter, :23 left

Result: Batted pass by Clark

On the final stop, the Chargers pick up the stunt run by Clark and Wyatt up front, but Clark gets an arm up and times his jump nicely. It's also worth noting the tight coverage LB Isaiah McDuffie (58) has on TE Stone Smartt (84) even if the throw had gotten through.