GREEN BAY – The left side of the Packers' offensive line – tackle David Bakhtiari and guard Lane Taylor – are now in their third season together working side by side.
Their chemistry was evident in a number of situations from Sunday's 22-0 victory over the Bills at Lambeau Field. Their work in tandem, along with the help of center Corey Linsley on occasion, is worth reviewing, because it shows not only the benefits for a smoothly running offense, but also the value of sticking with a play for an extended period when it might not look so smooth.
Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 49, first quarter, 10:25 left
Result: 11-yard run by RB Jamaal Williams
A pretty simple running play to the left opens up nicely, as Bakhtiari seals off DE Jerry Hughes (55), while Taylor and Linsley execute an effective combo block. First, they shove DT Harrison Phillips (99) out of the way, and as Taylor finishes that block, Linsley peels off to get a piece of LB Matt Milano (58), just enough to spring Williams.
Play No. 2: Third-and-4 from the 50, first quarter, 6:48 left
Result: 43-yard completion to RB Ty Montgomery
Defenses get in trouble if they don't stay in their pass-rush lanes against QB Aaron Rodgers, and here Taylor's job is pretty easy on DT Star Lotulelei (98), who scoots to the middle with more traffic. When Hughes tries, and fails, to beat Bakhtiari with speed around the edge, there's a huge opening for Rodgers to step into, and he finds Montgomery running free down the sideline for the biggest play of the day.
Play No. 3: Third-and-10 from the Buffalo 49, second quarter, :16 left
Result: 15-yard scramble by Rodgers
Remember the famous sideline throw to TE Jared Cook in the playoffs in Dallas a couple of years back? This is basically the same play. The protection calls for Bakhtiari to get outside of Hughes and direct him inside, because Taylor is leaking out to provide a final bulwark on the outside for Rodgers as he rolls left. As Taylor gets another block on the pursuing Hughes, TE Jimmy Graham is Cook, cutting all the way across the field toward the sideline. But he's not open, so Rodgers keeps it, scampers up the sideline and gets out of bounds in field-goal range for the Packers to make it 16-0 at the half.
Play No. 4: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 25, third quarter, 15:00 left
Result: 11-yard run by RB Aaron Jones
This is one of those plays where it pays to stick with it, because initially, there's not much room for Jones running to the right. But watch how Taylor stays on Lotulelei and Linsley gets Milano on the ground. Then, as Jones cuts it back to the left, Bakhtiari runs just enough interference with his backside to prevent S Rafael Bush from slowing Jones down, and it's a nice gain on the first snap of the second half.
Play No. 5: Third-and-6 from the Green Bay 37, fourth quarter, 14:03 left
Result: 13-yard completion to Graham
Speaking of backsides, this time it's Taylor's turn, as he and Bakhtiari handle the pass-rush stunt from Hughes and DT Kyle Williams (95). As the pass rushers cross, Bakhtiari engages with Williams right away while Taylor spins and boxes out Hughes like a rebounder in basketball, and Rodgers has a clear throwing lane to hit Graham for the first down.