Plays that shaped the season: No. 5

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
8:00
AM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers were on the field for more than 2,000 plays combined on offense and defense this season and several hundred more on special teams.

As we look back on the season, we will examine 10 plays, subjectively chosen, as the ones that most shaped the Packers’ season that ended with the 23-20 NFC wild-card playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field.

The list, so far, in reverse order:

No. 10: Micah Hyde’s near interception against the 49ers.

No. 9: Enter Matt Flynn in relief against the Vikings.

No. 8: Johnathan Franklin’s fourth-and-1 fumble against the Bengals.

No. 7: Eddie Lacy’s 60-yard run against the Cowboys.

No. 6 (and 6a): Sam Shields’ interception in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys (and Tramon Williams’ interception against the Cowboys in the fourth quarter).

Here's No. 5:

Date: Oct. 6, 2013.

Location: Lambeau Field.

Game: Packers vs. Lions

The play: Outside linebacker Clay Matthews' sack of quarterback Matthew Stafford in the third quarter.

Why it mattered: Matthews broke his right thumb on the play. The next day, he underwent surgery to have pins placed in his hand to stabilize the break. Matthews, who also missed part of the Sept. 22 game against the Cincinnati Bengals after pulling his hamstring on a sack of quarterback Andy Dalton, missed four games and upon his return on Nov. 10 against the Philadelphia Eagles he had to play with a large cast that covered his entire right hand. It rendered him mostly ineffective, but the next week he returned with a much smaller cast that gave him the freedom to move his fingers and thumb. In Week 16 against the Steelers, Matthews reinjured the thumb on a sack of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and underwent a second surgery. He remained on the active roster in case the Packers made a long playoff run, but Matthews never returned. He missed a career-high five regular-season games and also the lone playoff game. He failed to make the Pro Bowl for the first time in his five-year NFL career.

Quotable: "Clay's one of those guys who's going to make two or three plays a game," Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said on Oct. 7. "You've seen every game this year. There's been two or three plays that he makes. I told him he's going to have to stop sacking the quarterback because the last two weeks, he's injured himself sacking the quarterback."

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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