Game Changing Play of the Week: Krys Barnes Swats the Ball Away at the Goal Line

Krys Barnes gives his best Dikembe Mutombo impression at the goal line in a crucial turnover play.

There's been a lot of hemming and hawing over the style points (or lack thereof) associated with the Packers' victory over the Carolina Panthers yesterday, but the facts are thus:

The team is now 11-3.

It has an NFC North crown in place.

It remains in the driver's seat for the #1 seed in a highly flawed conference.

And, perhaps most importantly, it proved it can still win games when the offense underperforms. 

Make mo mistake about it, after a season where the offense has largely carried the defense and special teams, the latter two units pulled the offense's dead weight for much of the game yesterday. Despite spending an inordinate amount of time on the field in the second half, the Packers' defense held strong enough to ensure the team would earn another crucial victory to help set the path of the playoffs in the NFC through Green Bay.

Even more surprisingly, it was players in the middle of the field who were difference makers last night. Specfiically, the Packers got a fantastic performance out of Adrian Amos, and some excellent work from inside linebacker Krys Barnes before he went down with an injury.

It's Barnes who made this week's game-changing play of the week.

The play

The Panthers were nearing pay dirt on their best drive of the game to that point. Down in the shadow of hte Packers' goal line, Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater got the call to try to take the ball in himself. 

When he made the decision to try to leap over the pile, Barnes was there and ready to make a play.

Giving his best Dikembe Mutombo impression, Barnes swatted the ball out of Bridgewater's hands with such force that it flew a couple yards away, bouncing fortuitously into the arms of Kevin King, who was then able to run it back into the other side of the field.

From there the Packers were able to score a touchdown that created some separation and took quite a bit of pressure off the defense--at least in tha tmoment.

The game was never really the same after that. The Panthers made some excellent defensive adjustments to generate more pressure on an unusually porous Packers' offensive line, and they quickly adjusted to the bubble screens and RPOs the Packers made a key element of their game plan. The Packers' offense was worthless in the second half.

But it didn't matter, as the Panthers were never quite able to fully recover from the miscue at the Packers' goal line. In fact, in four trips to the red zone, the Panthers came away with only one touchdown, which is some fantastic work by the Packers' defense against a team that's had a pretty effiective offense even without Christian McCaffrey on the field.

 

There's little cause for concern about the Packers' offense. They've put up 30 plus point smore often than not this season, and have more than earned the benefit of the doubt coming out of a bad game. While you never want to see an offense disappear for an entire half, the fact is the Packers did exactly that and still won the game, which is a testament to the quality of defense they played.

People keep repeating the obvious, "Well they can't expect to do that and win in January!," which is, like, so obvious that I'm not even entirely sure why people feel the need to say it. But if the Packers are able to play this kind of defense in January against higher levels of competition, they can ride that all the way to the Super Bowl, regardless of whether their offense plays to its lofty standards.

__________________________

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.

7 points

Comments (32)

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Lphill's picture

December 20, 2020 at 01:17 pm

Excellent heads up play , he had a great first half and the defense was better when he was on the field.

10 points
10
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Coldworld's picture

December 20, 2020 at 01:26 pm

Who comes out well after last night? Barnes, Jones and Amos strike me as the standouts, with a nod to the D as a whole and Crosby for that FG.

Barnes just seems to have instincts and awareness ... you can’t buy that! Best UDFA since Shields?

3 points
3
0
MITM's picture

December 20, 2020 at 05:29 pm

Kamal Martin is a stud as well. As ive said in previous posts im completely fine on him pulling the trigger the way he does even if he doesnt get home always right now, that still affects the play and sets a certain tone. I had more fun watching Barnes and Martin play together than i have watching ANY duo since Hawk and Bishop a decade.

3 points
3
0
jannes bjornson's picture

December 20, 2020 at 05:32 pm

A pure ILB and a team Captain. He knows his keys, he studies, he was a solid three year starter, four year player for the Bruins
who provides the whole package. A crime he wasn't drafted. Martin--just play him. The defense needs their quicks.

8 points
8
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Since'61's picture

December 20, 2020 at 02:02 pm

Excellent defensive play by Barnes. Turned out to be the biggest play of the game. Thanks, Since ‘61

10 points
10
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Bearmeat's picture

December 20, 2020 at 02:14 pm

Honestly, they looked completely uninterested after halftime. Or rather, as soon as they got 21-3. Barnes an Amos playing so well in the box really made a difference in the defense, and there were no screwups on special teams.

Gotta say, it was an ugly win. But I came out of that ugly win more encouraged than I would have if we'd won 45-38 with a couple special teams mishaps.

7 points
7
0
Guam's picture

December 21, 2020 at 07:54 am

The Packers were a split second from a special teams disaster. Burks missed block on Scott's punt nearly got the punt blocked deep in Packer territory. That could have completely changed the game. It didn't happen, but it was far too close for comfort. Mennenga's STs just never make it easy.

1 points
1
0
NickPerry's picture

December 20, 2020 at 02:36 pm

That was a hell of a play by Barnes, one I highly doubt Kirksey would make or even think to make. Myself and others have mentioned it before...Let Barnes and Martin PLAY.

Barnes makes a play like that and save a TD.

Kirksey once again blows a tackle and takes out 2 other Packers doing it and the Panthers get a HUGE gain because of it in the 4th quarter...SMH

8 points
8
0
Minniman's picture

December 20, 2020 at 08:18 pm

I saw both Kirksey and Kevin King get defeated on the goal line by Teddy B on his score.

Kirksey got well blocked by the running back and King looked to be making one of Al's noted "business decisions" - trying to shoulder shove Bridgewater right on the goal line (instead of putting his body on the line and attacking to try and dislodge the ball).

4 points
4.5
0.5
jannes bjornson's picture

December 21, 2020 at 12:32 pm

It is all on film for the world to view.

0 points
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Packers2020's picture

December 20, 2020 at 03:37 pm

The Good

Aaron Jones- Sign the man! This O is different without him.
Crosby- Does it again
Barnes- Give that man more minutes than Kirksey. He has earned it.
Amos- Played a great game.

The Bad

King- He can go away
Offensive Line- They were terrible in the 2nd half. Bak and Patrick were bad in pass protection.
Matt LeFluer- Horrible play calling in the 2nd half. 6 runs in the first 19 plays of the 2nd half when Jones was averaging 7 yards per carry and finished with 145 yards on 20 carries. 7 yards per carry.
Defense- Yes they held Carolina to 16 points but they also allowed 5 trips to the red zone. A sieve once again. If it was not for Barnes play, we would have lost this game.

A win is a win. But this O needs to realize they will get defenses playing tight man and aggressive in the playoffs. They need to ride Aaron Jones more in the playoffs when needed.

-3 points
5
8
Lare's picture

December 20, 2020 at 04:15 pm

Not sure who's to blame, but if the Packers go into halftime with a lead you can bet they'll play flat in the second half. That'll work during the regular season against below average teams but not against the better teams in the playoffs.

The more things change......

4 points
6
2
ricky's picture

December 20, 2020 at 04:20 pm

An idea: if the opposing defense is snuffing out the screen to Adams again and again, try something else. And, just so everyone understands that sometimes stating the obvious (that the offense not playing well in the second half is not going to win in the playoffs) is human nature. Because Rodgers himself stated that self obvious insight several times in his post game interview.

6 points
7
1
mnbadger's picture

December 20, 2020 at 04:51 pm

I'm as big a fan of QB1as anybody, but . . . I wish he would stop acting like a spoiled brat when the offense plays poorly. Bit...ing, whining and petulant. I'd rather see him get mad and direct it at improving. CAPA. He's too proud of himself when things go well and seems to direct a scowl at a teammate or coach when they fail. His cleverness let's him start the game ahead, but he doesn't seem to have a counter punch to bury a team on the ropes. I can't believe I just critqued the best quarterback to ever play the game! Packer fans are never satisfied. GOARGO! GPG

2 points
7
5
MITM's picture

December 20, 2020 at 05:32 pm

In this game he had every right to be pissed off and expect more from his guys last night. 2 particular plays was Tonyan not breaking his route out and up the play before his TD catch. He ran to the sidelines instead of cutting upfield for a WIDE OPEN TD. Then Lazard lazily drops a perfect pass right on the sideline before the half that cost us 3 points.

5 points
6
1
mnbadger's picture

December 20, 2020 at 06:13 pm

I get that part. No need to throw teammates, coaches under the bus though. Unless you've performed perfectly. He wasn't as accurate as he could have been on plenty of throws which resulted in incompletions or shorter gains. No receiver has ever come back to the huddle b.tching at him. Correct things on the bench or in film session, not national TV. Players and coaches know when they've let the team down. Don't beat their confidence down, pick them up for the next play. Lead. GPG

1 points
5
4
ImaPayne's picture

December 20, 2020 at 08:47 pm

Have to admit, I see way more drops on perfect passes on this team then any other team. It's like they are surprised the ball is coming to them? Hey it's all about Adams and not spreading it around enough. A lot of our guys are not part of the scheme.

-2 points
1
3
Tundraboy's picture

December 20, 2020 at 08:59 pm

There's a lot of truth in what your saying. Players need to get more touches at game speed. But with Lazard I think he was not focused enough.

4 points
4
0
Coldworld's picture

December 21, 2020 at 12:22 am

Lazard just looks rusty.

3 points
4
1
ImaPayne's picture

December 20, 2020 at 08:42 pm

I'm with you on this. Last year if he didn't have an open man and a perfect no interception pass, he ate the ball or threw it away and got sacked a lot. Seems he is starting down that road again. Personally I always thought it was the pass defense scheme he didn't like. Lots of run calls and short passes 2hen he doesn't like the d scheme.

-3 points
2
5
stockholder's picture

December 20, 2020 at 06:02 pm

A guy who plays well. = Gets more playing Time. A guy makes a great play.= You start him.

5 points
5
0
ImaPayne's picture

December 20, 2020 at 08:52 pm

Ya that doesn't work. The two guys get double covered and the others aren't game prepared to take up the slack. The goes have two great tight ends, best rookie receiver 8n football, the out of the backfield on options. Ball is spread around so you can't just cover one person.
The diff they don't drop the ball. They all have good hands.

-3 points
1
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mnbadger's picture

December 20, 2020 at 06:15 pm

Great picture of K Barnes' play by the way. GKBG

5 points
5
0
Packer_Fan's picture

December 20, 2020 at 09:42 pm

I thought King looked slow with the fumble return. Didn't he have sub 4.4 40 yard time?

4 points
4
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Coldworld's picture

December 21, 2020 at 12:23 am

I thought he did too. He’s had a groin injury. I wonder if that is slowing him.

2 points
2
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croatpackfan's picture

December 21, 2020 at 08:04 am

Yea. You are right. Team that have excellent & very good RB, one established WR & rookie WR who is in discussion to be RPOY is at 6-8. Not to mention they have better D than Packers. Their fans are thrilled because of that. Oh, of course they are the happiest fans in US. Pitty that their team is likely not to see postseason.

If you and quite lot of others are GMs, you'll have one big problem. You will have no players on the roster to play the games. Because you'll cut everx player after one bad game... And, of course, you wil have 6 1st round picks every year to draft the best possible players for every important possition on the team.,

0 points
1
1
Packer_Fan's picture

December 20, 2020 at 09:42 pm

I thought King looked slow with the fumble return. Didn't he have sub 4.4 40 yard time?

0 points
1
1
Stroh's picture

December 20, 2020 at 10:27 pm

King ran 4.43 but it wasn't apparent on that fumble return that'sforsure. He must still be slowed by the Groin? he had. But he's still a better option than Josh Jackson, so he's playing thru it. At least that's my guess. But yeah, he didn't seem to have the speed

4 points
5
1
Demon's picture

December 20, 2020 at 11:03 pm

I thought the same thing. Initially I was certain he would score. Was surprised when R Anderson and DJ Moore caught him from behind.

2 points
2
0
4thand1's picture

December 21, 2020 at 06:56 am

Lets all hope our D C watches the film.

1 points
1
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Nordom's picture

December 21, 2020 at 09:21 am

I think CHTV needs like a part-time but dedicated proofreader or something...

1 points
2
1
mbradleyc's picture

December 21, 2020 at 02:17 pm

RPO. Is that the newest groovycool buzzword?

0 points
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