GREEN BAY – The biggest play of the game for the Packers' defense Monday night in Las Vegas was safety Rudy Ford's interception on the opening series of the third quarter.
But Ford made his impact felt with run support from his safety position as well, which is worth illustrating given the Packers' struggles defending the run early in the season.
Here's the examination.
Play No. 1: Second-and-10 from the Las Vegas 28, third quarter, 8:14 left
Result: 4-yard gain for RB Josh Jacobs
The official statistics count this as a pass reception, but it's effectively a run via an outside pitch. Ford's support here is two-fold. First, he creeps up to the line of scrimmage as WR DeAndre Carter (3) goes in motion and then takes on his block to set the edge and not let Jacobs carry the play any farther outside. Then, Ford sheds the block to make the tackle and set up third down, after which the defense gets off the field.
Play No. 2: Second-and-4 from the Green Bay 45, third quarter, 4:01 left
Result: No gain for Jacobs
Ford doesn't have anyone blocking him here, but he plays the run very sound and smart. He attacks the line of scrimmage where the hole appears, but he doesn't overcommit. He stays square and is able to stick with Jacobs when he tries to bounce it outside, getting him down to set up another third down.
Play No. 3: Second-and-4 from the Las Vegas 48, fourth quarter, 8:38 left
Result: 1-yard gain for Jacobs
This is similar to the last play, except Ford also has to be conscious of setting the edge. He's the eighth man in the box against this run and once again, he attacks the line of scrimmage, keeps the proper leverage with a solid base, and securely wraps up the ball carrier. On the ensuing third down, the Packers get a sack and force a punt.
Play No. 4: First-and-15 from the Las Vegas 39, first quarter, 1:35 left
Result: 19-yard run by WR Tre Tucker
This is out of order and not a typical run support play, but it's worth showing for Ford's contribution. It's not a good play by the Packers' defense as a whole, but it's a heck of a play by the speedy Ford, who comes all the way across the field to prevent the explosive run from rupturing any worse. This proves big as on the following series, the Packers get a sack on third down and keep the Raiders off the board.
Play No. 5: Second-and-2 from the Green Bay 17, second quarter, 6:47 left
Result: 1-yard gain for Jacobs
Shifting gears to Wilson's efforts, he first shows up on a short-yardage play and makes his presence felt. He powers through the block of LT Kolton Miller (74) and gets to Jacobs to set up third-and-1. Unfortunately, after the Packers make the stop on third down as well, they can't do so on fourth down and the Raiders eventually get their first touchdown.
Play No. 6: First-and-goal from the Green Bay 7, second quarter, 4:00 left
Result: 1-yard loss for Jacobs
Right after a turnover deep in Green Bay territory, the Packers' defense comes up big, starting with this tackle for loss on first down. Wilson doesn't make the tackle, but he slashes through to attack the block of FB Jakob Johnson (45), not surrendering any ground (Wilson gives up 25 pounds to Johnson, by the way). Combine that with LB Preston Smith (91) beating Miller off the edge, Jacobs has nowhere to go, leaving LB Isaiah McDuffie (58) and DL Kenny Clark (97) enough time to get off their blocks and finish the play. The Packers hold on the next two goal-to-go snaps as well, winning a crucial series by forcing the field goal.
Play No. 7: Third-and-6 from the Las Vegas 32, third quarter, 7:34 left
Result: Incomplete pass
Chronologically, this is actually the next snap after Play No. 1 above, the third down that gets the defense off the field, and it's just a savvy, veteran play by Wilson. The Packers are showing a double-A gap blitz with Wilson and McDuffie, but they're also running a stunt with Smith looping around from the edge toward the middle. When Wilson is picked up by C Andre James (68) and doesn't have a clear path to QB Jimmy Garoppolo (10), he wisely backs off so as not to muddy the waters for Smith and get himself caught up in traffic. He bides his time, keeps himself clear and eventually bores in on Garoppolo as he leaves the pocket, forcing a throwaway and getting a QB hit for good measure.