Welcome back to One Big Play, and yet another win.

I’m going to break from tradition a bit with this column. I know this is called One Big Play, but I’m going to be looking at two big plays. I blew your mind this time, didn’t I?

Let’s set it up.

After two straight sacks halted a Packers drive near the end of the first half, the Vikings found themselves down 21-13 with a little more than 2 minutes on the clock. They would get the ball to start the second half, so a score here would be huge for them. After a couple decent plays, the Vikings had second down on the Packers 41 yard line and about a minute to play.

2nd and 1. Clay Matthews [52] lines up wide against T.J. Clemmings [68]. At the snap, Matthews simply beats Clemmings around the edge. Clemmings reaches out, but that puts him off balance. Matthews simply knocks Clemmings hands down with a violent downward strike and Clemmings is in no position to recover.

From there, Matthews converges on Sam Bradford [8] from the blindside and knocks the ball out of his hand.

It’s a quick and vicious move from Matthews, and something we haven’t seen much of this season.

If you will, please turn your attention to Mike Daniels [76]. He is double-teamed and he isn’t able to get much of a push, but he still works hard. There’s one small thing he does here that I really love: watch him after he gets stoned on his second move. He is looking at Bradford. He sees Bradford looking in his direction, so he backs up and keeps his head up. He’s looking to get into a position to get his hands up if Bradford throws in that direction. It’s a smart, heads-up move from Daniels. As it turns out, Daniels disengaging from his blockers puts him in a great position to recover the fumble.

Instead of the Vikings looking to score before the end of the half, the Packers found themselves on their own 46 yard line with 54 seconds remaining.

After that strip sack, Aaron Rodgers [12] went 2/3 for 46 yards. Ty Montgomery [88] chipped in a 2 yard rush. That left the Packers looking at 2nd and goal from the 6 yard line.

Rodgers gave a hard count before the snap – as he is wont to do – and Eric Kendricks [54] was showing a blitz off the left side. Rodgers saw this and so did David Bakhtiari [69]. Bakhtiari couldn’t allow a free rusher to the inside, so he goes inside to chip Kendricks. Rodgers knows this will happen, which means he knows that Everson Griffen [97] will have a free rush off the edge. If given the choice, Rodgers will take Griffen of the edge rather than Kendricks through the line every single time.

Knowing Griffen will be coming off the line means Rodgers can plan on what to do about it.

At the snap, Rodgers takes a glance to his left to make sure Griffen isn’t dropping back into coverage. As soon as he sees Griffen is rushing, he is able to spin to the outside, easily eluding Griffen to the edge. It’s wide open and there are no open receivers, so Rodgers tucks the ball and runs.

Jordy Nelson [87] holds his block on Xavier Rhodes [29] for as long as he can. Rhodes begins to break away but Nelson still has one hand on him. In a moment of perfect timing, Nelson gives Rhodes one last little shove just as Rodgers is cutting inside. Rhodes flies to the outside, Rodgers runs to the inside and finds the end zone.

It should go without saying but I’ll say it anyway (because I love hearing myself talk): Rodgers looked much better running in this game than he has in the past few games. I still don’t want to see him running outside the pocket on a regular basis, but this was a good sign.

Instead of the Vikings putting points on the board and drawing closer going into halftime, the Packers were able to extend their lead 28-13, thanks to these two plays. They had a massive impact on the outcome of the game.


Album listened to: Chris Walla – Tape Loops

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