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What You Might've Missed: Taming the beast

Packers’ teamwork did the job vs. Rams star DT Aaron Donald


GREEN BAY – In playing 56 of the Rams' 72 defensive snaps, star defensive tackle Aaron Donald was credited with four tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a QB hit.

That's a modestly productive stat line, but on balance his impact was pretty minimal, thanks to strong teamwork up front by the Packers' offensive line to hold him in check.

Here's an extensive sampling.

Play No. 1: Second-and-10 from the Green Bay 20, first quarter, 9:29 left

Result: 9-yard reception by RB Aaron Jones

Donald (99) is rarely left all alone to be blocked one-on-one. Even the slightest bit of help can make a difference, and here's an example, as RT Zach Tom (50) gets an initial bump before heading to the second level, which aids RG Jon Runyan (76) in maintaining leverage so Jones can but between his block and that of TE Tucker Kraft (85) on the outside.

Play No. 2: Second-and-8 from the LA 13, first quarter, :39 left

Result: 5-yard run by Jones

This is the Packers' fifth play of their second drive, and Donald has sat out the first four snaps. So he's back in and ready to attack, which he does with a wicked swim move against LG Elgton Jenkins (74). But remember the part about teamwork? C Josh Myers (71) neutralizes any potential penetration into the backfield with a good block on Donald, and Jones scoots up the middle to set up very manageable third down.

Play No. 3: Third-and-3 from the LA 8, second quarter, 15:00 left

Result: 5-yard run by Jones

That third down comes at the quarter change, and this time it's RG Sean Rhyan (75), subbing briefly for Runyan, who wins the matchup with Donald. In a rare one-on-one, Rhyan stalemates him, Jones cuts off Rhyan's left hip and converts to make it first-and-goal.

Play No. 4: First-and-goal from the LA 3, second quarter, 14:22 left

Result: 3-yard TD run by Jones

As usually happens in these matchups, Donald shows his frustration at some point, and it happens on the TD run. Donald isn't involved in the play, so the initial diagram shows the quality blocks by Kraft, WR Christian Watson (9) and TE Luke Musgrave (88) that open a nice hole for Jones to score. But watch after the play as Donald and Tom exchange words. The second-year offensive lineman doesn't back down, as these battles are just getting started.

Play No. 5: First-and-10 from the LA 46, second quarter, :44 left

Result: Incomplete pass

Moving ahead to the final drive of the first half, and unfortunately, WR Malik Heath (18) drops this pass for what would've been a nearly 20-yard gain. But it's worth showing for the teamwork once again vs. Donald. The instant he gets past Runyan for a possible hit on QB Jordan Love, Myers is right there to slide over with the additional protection.

Play No. 6: Third-and-6 from the Green Bay 32, fourth quarter, 7:08 left

Result: 10-yard completion to WR Romeo Doubs

Fast forward to the game-clinching TD drive, and this clutch third-down conversion speaks to the teamwork once again. For maybe the only time in the game, Donald is lined up as a straight nose tackle over Myers (rather than his usual 3-technique spot on either side). So the help comes from the backfield in Jones, who sticks his nose in there to make sure Love can get the pass away cleanly.

Play No. 7: Third-and-12 from the Green Bay 40, fourth quarter, 5:01 left

Result: 37-yard completion to Watson

Three plays later, the Packers face another big third down, and once again Runyan and Myers team up to take care of Donald's pass rush. Here, the combination of Myers' chip block and Runyan's leverage actually lift Donald's feet off the ground, making it impossible for him to progress toward the quarterback, and Watson makes a tremendous catch.

Bonus play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 38, second quarter, 12:53 left

Result: 21-yard run by WR Jayden Reed

Having shown several quality clips of Myers, and having heard a lot of praise for Myers' play over the past couple of weeks, here's the 310-pound center showing off his athleticism. On the end-around to Reed, Myers pulls from his center spot and gets way out front to lead the charge, taking care of Rams DB Cobie Durant (14) near the boundary to help turn a good run into an explosive gain. Myers even gets a few pats on the head along the sideline for his efforts.

Bonus play No. 2: Second-and-7 from the LA 20, fourth quarter, 3:46 left

Result: 20-yard TD to Musgrave

This play is just too good not to show, and it's fascinating to watch it open up on film. There's a lot going on, so here's how it breaks down. The Rams' two linebackers in the middle of the field (circled) initially shift with the motion by Jones, and then overcommit the other way as Dillon leaks out for the fake screen. The combination of a perimeter receiver and a screen on each side of the field has both deep safeties moving further outside, creating an even bigger opening in the middle. Last but not least, Musgrave sells himself as a blocker vs. OLB Byron Young (0) before timing his release just right into the voided area. Nicely designed, perfectly executed.