Friday, January 17, 2014
Plays that shaped the season: No. 1
By Rob Demovsky
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).
No. 5: Clay Matthews breaks his thumb against the Lions.
No. 4: Randall Cobb fractures his tibia against the Ravens.
No. 3: Jermichael Finley sustains career-threatening neck injury.
No. 2: Aaron Rodgers' 48-yard touchdown pass to Cobb against the Bears.
Here's No. 1:
Date: Nov. 4, 2013.
Location: Lambeau Field.
Game: Packers vs. Bears.
The play: Bears defensive end Shea McClellin's first quarter sack of Rodgers.
Why it mattered: Rodgers fractured his left collarbone on the play and would miss the next seven games, a stretch during which the story of when he would return dominated the news. The Packers used three different quarterbacks -- Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and finally Flynn -- during that stretch in which they went five games without a victory (including one tie) before Flynn led them to a pair of comeback victories against the Falcons and Cowboys in back-to-back weeks. Rodgers finally returned for the regular-season finale against the Bears, when he threw the 48-yard touchdown pass to Cobb (our No. 2 play) for the game-winning score with 38 seconds remaining.
Quotable: “We haven't handled Aaron Rodgers' departure [well]," coach Mike McCarthy said on Nov. 24 after the Packers dropped to 0-4-1 since Rodgers went down. “I haven't talked about it on purpose. That hasn't worked, and we all need to step up as a football team and take advantage of these opportunities.”