Game-Changing Play of the Week: Deep Third-Down Rainbow to Adams Charges Up Offense

The Rodgers/Adams connection provides its latest highlight play.

Hey, the Green Bay Packers decided to play a football game this week!

As frustrating as the first half often was (particularly on the defensive side of things), the Packers figured it out and managed to pull away to win without a whole lot of drama after the midway point of the third quarter. It wasn't quite the stomping many predicted it would be, but the Packers did enough on offense to assuage some fears that the team had been "figured out," or that Aaron Rodgers was phoning it in.

The defense... well, I'll get to them in HELLO WISCONSIN on Thursday morning.

For now, I'm tasked with selecting which play changed the game the most. There were a couple turnovers to mention (the first fumble was particularly important), but to me, the play that stands out the most when I go back over the way the game played out was the 3rd and 12 rainbow pass from Rodgers to Davante Adams.

The play

It's important to consider the context here as well as the play itself.

The Packers had just come out with the first drive of the second half, needing to respond to the field goal that gave the Lions a 17-14 lead heading into halftime.

To this point, the defense looked like possibly the worst unit in the league, and there was understandably little faith among most onlookers that the defense would be able to come out and stop the Lions if the offense failed to put points on the board.

That would have meant the Lions would have had a chance to get into a two-score lead, with the Packers defense having even more pressure put on it to execute. Not good.

The play before this play, the Packers had a second and two after a nice first-down pickup by Aaron Jones. However, Elgton Jenkins got driven backward by his man. Rather than stepping up into the pocket and potentially running for it, Aaron Rodgers spun out and around the tackle box. In doing so, he left the protection of the pocket and ran right into a defender for a sack and a 10-yard loss.

It wasn't the first time of the night Rodgers had a seeming lack of pocket awareness that led to a sack.

Regardless, the stakes were high here on 3rd and 12 in their own territory, coming out of the half in a position where they really needed to put points on the board and run an extended drive.

The execution here is just outstanding. Davante gets a step or two past his man, and Rodgers floats up the perfect arcing pass to drop it right in the bucket. Adams uses late hands to avoid cluing the DB in on the incoming pass, and snatches it with ease. These two make it look so easy, when it's anything but.

A few plays later, Rodgers sent a laser through double coverage to Robert Tonyan in the end zone, and the Packers never looked back. 

It really felt like this play gave a jolt to the offense, and Rodgers in particular. Had the Packers failed to convert that third and long, we're talking about the Lions getting the ball back with decent field position and a 17-14 lead. Who knows what would have happened from there.

 

A win is a win. On to the next one.

GO PACK!

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

5 points

Comments (23)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Crankbait's picture

September 21, 2021 at 04:24 pm

This team will never win a Super Bowl championship with current players and coaching staff.
Way too long of stretches of offense where there is just no continuity, consistency or structure to the offense.
So often it seems like we only score off of a big sandlot play otherwise the offense is just out of sync with little production. Rogers.... He's just a stubborn selfish player with tons of talent but too often refuses to settle for what the defense gives him. I am so sick of watching this.
.

-9 points
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SanLobo's picture

September 21, 2021 at 06:34 pm

I saw an offense that was patient and took what the Detroit defense gave them. Detroit ran cover-2 for most of the game to take away Adams, so our offense used Jones, Tonyan, and a bit of Dillon until Detroit showed more leg. Our offense had 3 possessions in the first half and scored 2 TDs. When our defense made stops in the 2d half and forced/benefitted from Detroit errors, our offense capitalized on them. As far as a Super Bowl, that is a long ways away yet. Let’s just win the Division first.

5 points
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LayingTheLawe's picture

September 21, 2021 at 09:51 pm

That's all this team did last year. Take what the defense gave them and finally set up a deep throw with play action they spent three quarters setting up. The Packers were the number one scoring offense in the league in 2020 because of the great offensive scheme they stuck with. Not sure what you're watching but it's not the Packers.

3 points
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Lphill's picture

September 21, 2021 at 05:40 pm

Pocket awareness comes with game experience including pre season , not practice in a red jersey , another reason to play some snaps in pre season .

3 points
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Since'61's picture

September 21, 2021 at 05:49 pm

Perfect throw by Rodgers, Adams executes the route and the catch and solid protection from the OL. Well executed play all around. Proved to be the game changing play. Thanks, Since '61

4 points
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ImaPayne's picture

September 21, 2021 at 07:00 pm

Ya he man Rodgers knew Adams was going deep against a third string replacement so his heroic throw was more, this guy cant keep up so there is no chance of an interception and if Adams doesnt get it will try again soon.

-5 points
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ImaPayne's picture

September 21, 2021 at 07:02 pm

The D is average thats all. The O line is young and need a year to work together so they will take their licks as well.

0 points
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Badacidtrip's picture

September 21, 2021 at 07:42 pm

I could watch this play all day! In his post game interview Rodgers lamented the fact that he missed other deep strikes to MVS. If they start connecting, we may be treated to even more explosive plays.

Imagine further that if our OL begins to jell and we get Bakhtiari back, giving Rodgers better protection for long developing plays... watch out!

3 points
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Swisch's picture

September 21, 2021 at 08:00 pm

Two amazing pinpoint passes by Rodgers downfield to Adams and Tonyan.
Definitely a display of astounding excellence from our QB.
***
However, do these types of plays encourage Rodgers to play too much hero ball for long passes and sensational highlights, and lead him too far away from a ball-control offense of short passes and runs?
In this game, this seems to be what happened.
It appears we saw Rodgers continue go deep to a fault in the following possessions, almost throwing an interception at one point. The Packers also benefitted from two or three Lions penalties to keep drives going and pad the lead.
Unless the upcoming opponent of the 49ers is as bad as the Lions, we're in trouble for our next game. Unless Rodgers throws perfect passes repeatedly against the 49ers, we're in trouble. If the 49ers double up Adams and take him out of the game, we're in trouble. If our offensive line isn't over and over and over again an enduring fortress of protection for Rodgers, we're in trouble.
Is Rodgers temperamentally incapable of playing small ball to move the chains? Against the most physical defenses, is his only response to stubbornly force the ball downfield -- throwing interceptions, taking sacks, stalling the offense?
***
Yes, Rodgers is great against mediocre defenses. He gets us all excited in his undeniable demonstrations of the spectacular.
Then the Bucs or 49ers come along (even the Saints) to smack down the Packers by taking away the long ball and intimidating Rodgers with a fierce pass rush -- but only because Rodgers can't or won't adjust with patient drives that utilize an array of creative shorter plays.
It's a big tease to get our hopes up as fans, only to be crushed with disappointment in the biggest and most precious of moments.
***
If we're satisfied with winning 10-13 games in a season with Rodgers, but losing to the better teams most of the time, and eventually getting blasted out of the playoffs, then games like this one against Detroit are good enough. We may even outscore some better teams along the way who are also not all that imposing on defense.
If we have aspirations for the Packers be truly elite in the NFL, and to even win a Super Bowl, however, it seems something much different much happen with Rodgers or in some other way.
I'm starting to wonder if losing four NFC Championship Games in a row isn't only on our defense; it may be due in large part to a quarterback so confident in himself as to deny the need to adapt, or who is somehow limited to just one style of play.
I'll be glad for there to be solid evidence from Rodgers this Sunday night to show that either I'm wrong, or else that he's going to make a big change.
We consider Rodgers to be intelligent, and he probably is. However, is he able and willing to outsmart an opponent who forces him to be not just a wonderful passer, but a complete quarterback?
Thoughtful comments for or against my opinion -- or some of both -- welcome below. I would say it's actually more of a theory than an opinion, which means I'm even more open to compelling evidence from all sides.

-1 points
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LayingTheLawe's picture

September 21, 2021 at 10:05 pm

Rodgers would not consider either of these plays to be sandlot or outside of the offense. He has long maintained his standard for the Tonyan play that if he can see the back of the defender's helmet then that play is open. It is similar to the play in the Super Bowl to Jennings.

On 3rd and 12 Rodgers finally got one on one coverage with the best receiver in football. He beautifully looked off the safety and had what he would consider an easy pitch and catch to his best player.

The entire 2020 season shows Rodgers can change and follow the offense. The Rodgers of 2018 and 2019 was spotty and frustrating. The Rodgers of 2020 was spectacular in large part due to staying within the offensive scheme.

3 points
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Swisch's picture

September 21, 2021 at 11:30 pm

I didn't say that those two great plays were sandlot or outside of the offense.
My concern is about Aaron Rodgers being overly reliant on those kind of plays, which may not be nearly as available against tougher and tighter defenses.
It seems true that Rodgers largely stayed within the offensive scheme during his terrific MVP year of 2020 -- but that still leaves the question of whether he did stray at important times, such as against the Bucs in the regular season and the NFC Championship Game.
I'm don't know the answer, although I have strong doubts about Rodgers as expressed above.
***
My general theory about Rodgers is open to honest debate, and requires the help of fans more knowledgeable and more perceptive than me.
For example, I think I watched all of the NFC Championship Games that Rodgers has played in, including the one in which the Packers beat the Bears -- but I don't remember them all that well, and never broke them down in a systematic analysis of his play.
In the 2014/15 championship game against Seattle, as I remember it, the defense of the Packers actually played really well for most of the game until things went awry at the end. There's a question as to whether Rodgers and the offense maximized its opportunities earlier in the game to build a sufficient lead. (The offense did scramble well in the clutch for a tying field goal at the end of regulation.)
Also, Rodgers was great in his only appearance in the Super Bowl, a win over the Steelers. In that game, though, I think he was really helped by the savvy of Greg Jennings, who was worthy of co-MVP with Rodgers.
***
There's a lot about football that I don't know.
At this forum for fans, though, I put out sincere thoughts to the best of my ability, and am open to other thoughts. I'm truly glad for other thoughts as a means of learning and a way of camaraderie.
The purpose of these current comments as they regard Rodgers is not to push him down to discouragement, but to lift him up to improvement. Perhaps I could express that sincere intention better, but it's nonetheless true.
I'm also thinking about the Packers as a whole, plus us as fans. We deserve the best of Rodgers as our quarterback. We can appreciate his huge achievements over the years, yet still question his possible shortcomings.
I will admit that after his seemingly self-centered stunts of this offseason, I'm more skeptical of Rodgers. He really let me down in threatening to ruin the season by holding out, and then trashing the front office when he did finally return -- and I haven't seen any remorse or regrets.
He has shaken the confidence of at least one fan. I'm still rooting for him, though, as a player and a person.

-2 points
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PewAuKeeFan's picture

September 21, 2021 at 10:40 pm

Swisch, I agree with you 1000% (Like Nagler says)

-1 points
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baldski's picture

September 21, 2021 at 11:20 pm

San Francisco had first choice on Rodgers and passed for Smith. The reason finally given by SF staff member - Rodgers was too cocky!

-1 points
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Badacidtrip's picture

September 21, 2021 at 11:30 pm

Glad you're receptive to different viewpoints. I disagree with your assessment of Rodgers. Obsessed with the long ball? Playing hero? Temperamentally incapable of playing small ball to move the chains? Yes, we've all seen this on occasion, but what about the vast majority of other times in which he makes timely decisions and systematically moves the chains? His phenomenal career QB rating, factoring ALL of the data points, speaks to his production.

We need a baseline to identify Rodgers as some kind of a gunslinger, a term usually associated with another Packer HOF quarterback. My naked eye tells me he's essentially a smart well-disciplined QB, and all the metrics seem to bear that out.

Regarding Rodgers' performances in the playoffs, I think it's well documented that more often than not, he's been let down by his defense. Some painful OT playoff losses ended with him not even touching the ball. Did Rodgers lose the Seattle heartbreak in 2014? Did he lose the blowouts against Atlanta and San Francisco? Was he stellar in the 2010 campaign? Did he make a clutch highlight reel pass to Cook to beat Dallas? You can't win them all, but on balance, who would you rather have in those games? Again, look at his overall QB rating in playoff games. I'll take that anytime.

3 points
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Swisch's picture

September 21, 2021 at 11:37 pm

You make really good points, Badacidtrip, and a thumbs up from me.
I appreciate your thoughts, and am still sorting out my understanding of Rodgers.
Perhaps see my response above to LayingTheLawe.

2 points
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Badacidtrip's picture

September 22, 2021 at 01:46 pm

Even though my take is quite different, I respect your viewpoint as well, Swisch. I keep going back to Rodgers' stellar career statistics and ask who would you really rather have than #12?

1 points
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Packers1985's picture

September 22, 2021 at 12:11 am

You made some good points and agree to most of what you have stated. The main concern with packers has been that they are heavily dependent on Arod's performance and if he is having a bad day our defense is not built to step up to help the offense.
We can look at all our recent blow outs in all the 4 games the opposing defenses simply doubled up Adams and heavily rushed on Arod frustrating him and going for a hero ball. We were not able to set up the run either because our oline usually looses battle against some good physical dlines. With offense not performing the defense simply couldn't stop the opposing team from scoring points , it is heavily reliant on offense to score up the lead.

3 points
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Since'61's picture

September 22, 2021 at 09:10 pm

Packers 1985, good post. QB play is often the result of the level of play delivered by their OL. If the OL run blocks effectively the run game will succeed and a QB with as much talent as Rodgers will capitalize on play-action and cut up the opposing defense. However, this is dependent on how well the OL pass blocks.

Rodgers or any Qb who is constantly harassed and hurried by the opponents pass rush will struggle to make good throws. for most of his career Rodgers has been excellent at frustrating opposing defense by utilizing his mobility to extend the play and throw on the run. In fact he is the most accurate passer on the run that I have ever watched. In that respect he has changed the QB position as much as any QB since Johnny Unitas.

When the Packers get into the playoffs play and will continue top defensive teams in the league. Those defenses are able to stop the run and generate an effective pass rush with only four men rushing. Therefore while our opponents are able to slow down the Packers offense the Packers defense has been incapable of stopping a good opponents offense in the playoffs. We saw this against the 49ers in 2019 and the Falcons in 2016. In fairness the Packers defense was injury riddled by the time they played the NFCCG against Atlanta. The offense was also injury riddled. The game against Atlanta was the 16th consecutive game without a bye for the Packers.

Against the 49ers the defense was literally blown off the field while the 49ers defense was good enough to shut down the Packers offense. In 2014 the Packers played a Seattle team who were the reigning SB champs and had the league's number one defense in 2014. The Packers defense played a very good game until the last 3+ minutes of the game when they surrendered a 12 point lead and allowed 3 successive TDs by the Seahawks including the game winner in OT which was forced by Rodgers leading a tying FG drive in regulation. Rodgers played the game on one leg and I still believe that if the Rodgers was not injured and could utilize his mobility the Packers would have won that game because there were drives he could have extended with his legs and possibly resulted in more points or least would have taken time off the clock.

IMO. Rodgers proved in 2020 that he could play and lead the offense effectively in the MLF offense. The problem in the NFCCG was that Tampa's defense was good enough to stop our ground game, plus Jones was injured and lost for the game and the Bucs pass rush consistently harassed Rodgers with 5 sacks and 8 QB hits. Failure to protect the Qb has always been a scenario for defeat all the way back to the Lombardi era at least. When you fall behind in the game it only makes matters worse for the QB, especially when it is coupled with the loss. of the player who can score from anywhere on the field. At that point the Bucs knew to forget the run game, get after Rodgers and double/triple cover Adams. They weren't concerned about any other players on the Packers offense.

The Bucs DC Todd Bowles may be the best DC in the league and I was hoping the packers would have hired to replace Pettine after the Jets fired him but here we are with Barry???

Bottom line, protect Rodgers and he will cut our opponents to pieces. Failure to protect him and he becomes one of many NLF QBs. Thanks, Since '61

0 points
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LayingTheLawe's picture

September 21, 2021 at 09:53 pm

Rodgers still had a few head scratching moments and his bob and weave to avoid the sack was noticeably absent. But come the second half he delivered some gems.

As important was the 4th down stand by the defense on the next drive after this TD. If they go right back behind and are trailing again, who knows where it goes. Instead, an avalanche started and this game became a blowout by NFL standards.

3 points
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joejetson's picture

September 21, 2021 at 11:35 pm

The Rodgers to Adams play was a momentum changer, but what finally stopped the Lions' offense was the rain. Goff was a totally different QB once the ball got wet. He has the Intentional Grounding pass that slipped from his hand, and then the fumbled snap. Otherwise it could have become a back and forth scoring fest with both defenses unable to make a.stop.

2 points
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Jaqu’eau's picture

September 22, 2021 at 08:36 am

Tim you nailed it. No need to look any further than Davante’s reaction after the catch. You think the fans were frustrated for the first 6 quarters of the season? This may have been the play that changed the season, not only the game.

0 points
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THESZOTMAN1's picture

September 22, 2021 at 08:53 am

Just listened to Nagler's mini-cast after the game, in which he took a shot at fan negativity.
SO .............. I'll hold my fire about run stopping, pass rush, and coverage and simply say:
This team can score from any place on the field AT WILL!
GPG v. 49ers
The Szotman

1 points
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PatrickGB's picture

September 22, 2021 at 05:53 pm

Rodgers preference is a downfield shot. Look at the fact that Lazard was open when he threw to Tonyan. Even throws to Adams when he is well covered. That’s who he is. When it works it’s great when it doesn’t then the team suffers. Other teams know this. Matt is trying to make it easier for the shorter throws but that’s not in Rodgers DNA. On defense we don’t have the horses for a dominant defense so they do what they can to limit the other team and hope that our offense can bail us out. I hope that when Z gets back and Stokes grows into his position then the defense improves.

0 points
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