GREEN BAY – Every once in a while, the blocking by the Packers' wide receivers just jumps off the game film.
The first quarter in Carolina is one of those times.
Beyond that, well, this is a bit of a hodge-podge of things that stood out on a number of the Packers' key plays on both sides of the ball.
Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 30, first quarter, 10:46 left
Result: 13-yard run by Aaron Jones
Second offensive play, and the receivers are already doing some dirty work. While the cut-block by TE Josiah Deguara (81) on OLB Brian Burns (0) is one key to opening up this hole, WR Dontayvion Wicks (13) locking up CB Jaycee Horn (8) helps keep that hole from closing.
Play No. 2: First-and-10 from the Carolina 46, first quarter, 8:57 left
Result: 27-yard completion to TE Tucker Kraft
On the opening drive, the Packers have picked up first downs on three of their first four plays with Jones, which sets up the play-action nicely for a big gain. Kraft initially sells his block on Burns to get free in the flat. The play-action fake gets S Jeremy Chinn (21) to bite hard toward the middle of the field, which leaves him chasing the play so much that WR Bo Melton (80) is able to get in front of him and smartly shield block (to avoid any possible blindside block penalty) to clear the sideline path for Kraft.
Play No. 3: First-and-10 from the Carolina 19, first quarter, 8:19 left
Result: 12-yard run by Jones
Very next play, it's WR Romeo Doubs (87) getting in on the blocking action. As he goes in motion and then reverts back to the same side, he finds Chinn, prevents him from getting outside, then shoves him inside, which Jones sees and allows him to bounce outside to set up first-and-goal. Then Doubs is one of the first to greet Jones at the sideline after the tough run.
Play No. 4: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 21, first quarter, 5:19 left
Result: 39-yard run by Jones
On the first snap of the Packers' second drive, WR Malik Heath (18) takes his turn at receiver turned blocker. First, a pulling LG Elgton Jenkins (74) seals off Burns and Jones makes Horn miss in the hole. But this opens up into Jones' longest run of the season thanks to Heath, who locks up S Vonn Bell (24) as Jones is off to the races and Heath is celebrating behind him. At this point in the game, Jones has 77 yards on just five carries.
From here it's the hodge-podge, beginning with a first in the dozen years of WYMM – keeping an eye on the head coach. This goes down as an all-time WYMM favorite.
Play No. 5: Third-and-8 from the Carolina 21, second quarter, :57 left
Result: 21-yard TD reception by Wicks
This score came thisclose to not happening if you keep an eye on Matt LaFleur at the top of the screen. QB Jordan Love is signaling for one of the pass catchers to his right – either Heath, Wicks or Kraft – to go in motion. But his gesture isn't heeded, and LaFleur quickly approaches the sideline official as though he's going to call a timeout. Thankfully, he doesn't. Then as Love scrambles out to his right, keep watching LaFleur. Like many viewing the game at the time, he's signaling for Love to try to run for the first down. But Love has his eyes downfield, and he finds Wicks for the score just before halftime.
Now fast forward to the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter, and the two key plays to set up the field goal.
Play No. 6: Third-and-4 from the Green Bay 31, fourth quarter, 2:39 left
Result: 36-yard completion to Doubs
Never underestimate the value of a running back who can pick up the blitz. The Packers are on the verge of their third straight three-and-out in the fourth quarter, and the Panthers send LB Frankie Luvu (49) right through the A gap after Love. But RB Patrick Taylor (27) picks him up in textbook fashion, Love gets off the deep shot for Doubs, and the Packers are in business.
Play No. 7: Second-and-10 from the Carolina 33, fourth quarter, 2:00 left
Result: 20-yard completion to Kraft
Two snaps later, just after the two-minute warning, this becomes essentially the game-winning play. Call it a game of inches, or microseconds, or whatever, but Love fits this pass between two defenders only because Doubs' route down the numbers makes CB Troy Hill (13) hesitate just long enough before closing on Kraft, and he's too late.
Shifting gears momentarily to the defense, here's arguably the unit's biggest stop of the day, back-to-back plays in the second quarter in Green Bay territory with the Packers leading just 16-10. The turnover on downs set up Green Bay's touchdown before half for a two-score lead
Play No. 8: Third-and-2 from the Green Bay 38, second quarter, 4:56 left
Result: No gain for RB Chuba Hubbard
Two players up front make this play for Green Bay to make it fourth down. DL Kenny Clark (97) powers through TE Ian Thomas (80) and both players end up two yards into the backfield. Next to Clark, DL T.J. Slaton (93) splits the double-team of C Bradley Bozeman (56) and LG Cade Mays (68) to be waiting for Hubbard.
Play No. 9: Fourth-and-2 from the Green Bay 38, second quarter, 4:15 left
Result: 2-yard loss for Hubbard
Then on fourth down, the Packers play this very aggressively, and it pays off. Green Bay has an eight-man box against a seven-man Carolina front, so someone's going to be free. But when RT Taylor Moton (72) misses LB Kingsley Enagbare (55) crashing hard off the edge, the Packers have two free defenders. Who's the other? LB Isaiah McDuffie, who is square, low and packing his punch as Hubbard, who has no chance to try to maybe slip through the crack between LB Lukas Van Ness (90) and LB Quay Walker (7) because Enagbare is flying at him, is stopped cold.