GREEN BAY – They didn't do it enough Monday night vs. the Giants, but when the Packers executed the blocks they needed, they earned significant chunks of yardage.
Here's a sampling, plus an extensive look at the end of all that went into the defense's big fourth-and-1 stop in the second quarter.
But first, the offense.
Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 48, first quarter, 2:28 left
Result: 35-yard reception by RB AJ Dillon
Having not had a play gain more than seven yards on their first three drives, the Packers finally break free here. They're in a max protect call with TEs Josiah Deguara (81) and Tucker Kraft (85) chipping on the Giants' edge rushers to provide more time for downfield routes to develop. Deguara throws his chip on OLB Jihad Ward (55), allowing LT Yosh Nijman (73) to absorb his power rush. Kraft helps out on OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) before RT Zach Tom (50) calmly stays with him on a potential stunt. This play is designed to go deep, but QB Jordan Love sees nothing's breaking free right away, so he quickly checks the ball down to Dillon. It ruptures into a big gain when Dillon makes a great move in the open field on S Jason Pinnock (27), and with WR Dontayvion Wicks (13) running just enough interference downfield. But the initial key is the execution of the pass protection, which allows Love a clean scan of the field and the ability to get the ball to Dillon when he has the most space around him. This play sets up Green Bay's first TD.
Play No. 2: Third-and-8 from the Green Bay 29, second quarter, 1:29 left
Result: 27-yard defensive pass interference penalty
Blitz pick-ups are always crucial, but this one by RB Patrick Taylor (27) on LB Bobby Okereke (58) is especially so because C Josh Myers (71) trips over the foot of RG Sean Rhyan (75), taking him out of the play. Love escapes the pocket to find WR Jayden Reed (11) downfield, and Reed gets run over by CB Cor'Dale Flott (28) as multiple flags fly. For good measure, there was actually a third flag thrown on this foul that isn't in the picture. The big gain helps the Packers get a field goal before halftime.
Play No. 3: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 25, third quarter, 11:22 left
Result: 20-yard run by Reed
The Packers begin their first possession of the second half with an explosive misdirection run that is expertly blocked. Three players in particular are worth watching. First, Kraft handles Thibodeaux on the edge and turns him inside. Next, Deguara gets outside on CB Adoree Jackson (22), allowing Reed to cut right off his hip. Finally, Myers pulls from his center spot and sprints more than 10 yards downfield to pick up Pinnock, who has fallen off Wicks' initial block. Unfortunately, the blocking on similar misdirection calls with Reed the rest of the game don't measure up to this.
Play No. 4: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 16, fourth quarter, 8:59 left
Result: 43-yard completion to Kraft
The route concept and protection work nicely here following a great read and adjustment by Love. Up front, Love's dummy cadence gets the Giants to show their pressure call, so Love points out the blitzing ILB Mikah McFadden (41), who ends up having no impact on the play. But by making the declaration on McFadden, the protection is set up for Dillon to slide over in the backfield and pick up another blitzer, S Xavier McKinney (29), and for Myers to handle DL A'Shawn Robinson (91) one-on-one up the middle, effectively steering him away from Love. Downfield, with the Giants a little shorthanded in coverage due to the blitz, the outside route by WR Malik Heath (18) draws enough attention from Flott that Kraft has a clear go up the seam, and then he breaks Flott's tackle to get a bunch of yards after the catch.
Bonus play: Fourth-and-1 from the New York 49, second quarter, 5:11 left
Result: No gain for RB Saquon Barkley
Even though the Packers didn't capitalize on this big fourth-down stop in the first half, a lot went into getting it that's worth examining. First, it's necessary to take a look at the line of scrimmage two snaps earlier, when it was third-and-1 and the Giants brought in a "jumbo" package that includes two extra offensive linemen, lined up on either side of the line as tight ends, with a full-house backfield. All 11 players are in the frame, nobody on the perimeter. On this first look, the Packers keep their base personnel on the field – three interior linemen, two outside linebackers, two inside linebackers, four defensive backs – and they bunch six players over the center and guards to defend an assisted sneak or inside run of any kind.
But the Giants false start, making it third-and-6. After a 5-yard completion sets up fourth-and-1, New York is going to punt, then calls timeout and brings out its jumbo package again. But the Packers counter with something different, both personnel- and alignment-wise. Green Bay goes super heavy, with five interior linemen, two outside linebackers, three inside linebackers and just one defensive back, and they're spread out across the line of scrimmage rather than bunched in any particular area.
Were the Giants expecting the Packers to come out in the same look as before, thinking an outside run would work? Probably. But they've already called a timeout before this play and can't call another one consecutively, so they're stuck with the outside run to Barkley that gets buried when LB Preston Smith (91) sets a solid edge and LB Eric Wilson (45) – playing literally the only snap on defense he'll play in the entire game – attacks the hole and stuffs the play.