Skip to main content

What You Might've Missed: Stout up front

Packers’ veteran defensive tackles Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry were key to stopping the run vs. Rams


GREEN BAY – On the Rams' first three handoffs of Sunday's game, they gained 5, 6 and 6 yards.

The rest of the game? LA's running backs gained just 52 yards on 16 carries, or 3.25 per rush.

Most of that can be credited to the Packers' veteran defensive tackles Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry, who were stout up front and instrumental in helping Green Bay stop the run without loading up the box to do it.

Here's a sampling.

Play No. 1: Third-and-2 from the LA 28, first quarter, 1:08 left

Result: 1-yard run by RB Darrell Henderson

Clark faces his share of double-teams, and there are times he still finds a way to be disruptive despite them. Here, he essentially avoids the double-team by leveraging to the inside of C Brian Allen (55), and he gets so far into the backfield that he re-routes Henderson's path. The penetration allows S Adrian Amos (31) to come all the way from his second-level safety spot to make the tackle just short of the first down. On the next play, fourth-and-short, Amos follows up with the big stop for the turnover on downs.

Play No. 2: First-and-10 from the LA 19, second quarter, 13:25

Result: 2-yard run by RB Sony Michel

On the first play of the Rams' next series, the double-team starts on Lowry, who shows his strength by keeping himself separated from RT Rob Havenstein (79) with his left arm, while reaching out with his right arm to get a piece of Michel and force him to the outside. The cavalry cleans up.

Play No. 3: First-and-10 from the LA 33, second quarter, 9:30 left

Result: 3-yard run by Henderson

Again, first snap of the next series. LBs Krys Barnes (51) and De'Vondre Campbell (59) are the defenders who make the play here, getting off the blocks by Allen and Havenstein, respectively, to plug the hole. But watch what Clark does. First, he dumps RG Austin Corbett (63) while chasing the play from the back side, and then he delivers some punishment to Henderson to finish the tackle. Thump.

Play No. 4: First-and-10 from the LA 25, third quarter, 7:18 left

Result: No gain for Henderson

On the Rams' first play of the second half, Lowry and Clark work in tandem for an impressive play. As is often the case, the Packers have just six defenders in the box against a six-man front that includes a tight end. Clark gets the initial double-team from Allen and LG David Edwards (73), but Lowry drives Corbett right into Allen, knocking him off of Clark, who then leaps over the downed bodies to make the tackle right at the line. Nice work.

Play No. 5: First-and-10 from the LA 25, third quarter, 2:28 left

Result: 3-yard run by Henderson

If you can't beat the double-team, hold your ground long enough to free up a teammate to make the tackle. That's what Clark does here, as Allen and Edwards spend all their energy on Clark, leaving Barnes with a clean shot to fill the hole and get Henderson.

Play No. 6: Third-and-1 from the Green Bay 21, fourth quarter, :53 left

Result: No gain for Henderson

Try to single-block Clark against the run? Good luck. Corbett is no match for him here, and the tackle at the line makes it fourth down. The Rams' plan was to just get the first down, spike the ball to stop the clock, and still have 40 seconds or so to try for a touchdown. But Clark's play forces the Rams to run their field-goal unit out to get within one score and get to the onside kick. They accomplish that, but the effort runs the clock all the way down to 18 seconds.

Bonus No. 1: Second-and-10 from the LA 25, third quarter, 6:55 left

Result: Incomplete pass

Just to show how Lowry and Clark had their moments as pass rushers, too, here's a couple more. Here Lowry bowls over Allen on his way to QB Matthew Stafford as his pass over the middle is batted down by Barnes.

Bonus No. 2: Third-and-10 from the LA 30, fourth quarter, 7:01 left

Result: 8-yard sack by Clark

Clark's reward for dealing with those double-teams all day is a late-game sack, with a little help from his teammates. For one, the coverage holds up long enough that Stafford can't find anybody open. Also, DL Kingsley Keke (96) drills Allen on the stunt to get him off Clark, who then gets picked up by Corbett but keeps fighting until he gets to Stafford to end the drive.