Revisiting 2019 - Divisional Round: 3rd Down Domination

I love this game so much. Partially because it was the first playoff game I was able to attend in person, but mostly because the Packers got a playoff win. 

A huge part of that win came down to their performance on 3rd down, on both sides of the ball. The Seahawks were 3/9 on 3rd down while the Packers were 9/14 on 3rd down. 3 of the Packers' 4 touchdowns came on 3rd down. Today, we're going to look at 5 of those conversions that helped the Packers secure a victory.

You ready? I'm ready.

Play 1: 3rd & 7, 10:42 remaining in the 1st quarter, Packers tied 0-0

Allen Lazard [13] runs an in-cutting route from the left while Jimmy Graham [80] runs an out from the left. That helps clear out the middle. Davante Adams [17] and Geronimo Allison [81] run at each other like they're going to be running a slant/flat combination. The Seahawks are in man coverage, so that initial movement gets them thinking about how to keep their coverage assignment instead of getting bumped off by the other receiver. 

As Adams and Allison get near the point where they should cross, they reverse course, with Allison cutting to the middle and Adams running a go route, veering toward the pylon. 

Aaron Rodgers [12] sees the confusion in coverage and lofts a pass over the top for Adams to run under. The single-high safety doesn't have a chance, and the Packers take an early 7-0 lead.

This is not the first time the Packers have run something like this. It's not even the first time Davante Adams has run something like this, but I love it all the same.

Play 2: 3rd & 6, 8:50 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Packers leading 21-10

The Seahawks have two linebackers mugging the A gap before the snap, so it looks like they're rushing as many as 7 men. Adams gets a good release from the left slot and immediately looks back as Rodgers, giving him a quick option if the Seahawks are bringing pressure. The two linebackers drop back into coverage at the snap, so Rodgers doesn't need the outlet.

Graham is running across the face of the single-high safety, but the safety is still backpedaling and appears to be keeping an eye on Adams. K.J. Wright [50] turns to carry Graham down the field, but Graham is able to get over the top of Wright and that's good enough for Rodgers.

Feet set to the left and still drops a perfect pass in the bucket.

The Packers would score a touchdown 2 plays later to push the lead to 28-10

Play 3: 3rd & 10, 9:19 remaining in the 4th quarter, Packers leading 28-23

Jake Kumerow [16] is running a go route on the right, while the left sees Graham running a flat route, Allison running a crosser and Adams running a dig behind Allison. Rodgers is reading the single-high safety, as well as the leverage of the defensive backs. At the snap, the safety is backing up and Allison gets inside position on his man, so Rodgers throws to Allison. The throw is a little low and behind, but Allison is able to go down and get it.

I believe Rodgers knows he's going to Allison, but he keeps his eye on Adams until he needs to release the pass. If he were to zero in on Allison, the safety likely would have crashed that route. By looking to Adams, the safety is held in place, ensuring that Allison would be open.

Play 4: 3rd & 8, 2:19 remaining in the 4th quarter, Packers leading 28-23

After a sack by Preston Smith on 3rd & 5, the Seahawks punted with 2:41 left in the game and all 3 of their timeouts remaining. The Packers gained 2 yards on 1st down. Following an incomplete pass on 2nd down, the Packers faced a huge 3rd & 8. The incomplete pass meant that the Seahawks only needed to burn 1 timeout. Punting the ball away here would have given the Seahawks the ball back with 2 timeouts and the two minute warning. That seemed less-than-ideal.

The Packers dial up a smash/fade on the right, with Kumerow running a short route and Adams running a fade over the top. The defender over Adams is playing tight to the line and facing him, showing man coverage. The pre-snap safety alignment could go either way, but they show a single-high look at the snap. That leaves Adams man-to-man from the slot against Quandre Diggs [28], running a route away from the safety.

Rodgers throws a perfect pass over the top and the Packers pick up 32 yards.

Play 5: 3rd & 9, 2:00 remaining in the 4th quarter, Packers leading 28-23

After picking up the 1st down, the Packers gained 1 yard on 1st down and were stopped for a no gain on 2nd down. The Seahawks were down to 1 timeout and the Packers had been able to get to the two minute warning. A stop here would lead to the Packers punting the ball in Seahawks territory. They could have just run the ball into the middle of the line, forced the Seahawks to use their final timeout and punt, giving them a little under 2 minutes to drive for the game-winning touchdown.

They did not do that. They put the ball in the hands of Aaron Rodgers and told him to close this sucker out. And then he did.

Allison pushes upfield from the right, making sure to keep on the inside shoulder of his defender. Graham runs a slant underneath the clearing route from Allison. Delano Hill [42] starts the play 9 yards off of Graham. His take a couple stutter-steps backwards before breaking on Graham. The route of Allison creates a bit of a barrier, but not a huge one. Hill has to shoot under Allison to make the tackle and Graham is able to fall forward to pick up the first down.

One other note on this play: there is a single linebacker in the middle before the snap. He rushes through the middle of the line at the snap, which opens up the room behind him for Graham to run into.


If you're wanting to dig in some more passing concepts from this game, you're in luck! You can do that here.


Albums listened to: Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland; Run The Jewels - RTJ4; Muzz - Muzz, Meryem Aboulouafa - Meryem; Brian Fallon - Local Honey

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Dusty Evely is a film analyst for Cheesehead TV. He can be heard talking about the Packers on Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter at @DustyEvely or email at [email protected].

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Leatherhead's picture

June 10, 2020 at 12:53 pm

And I still don’t understand why so many felt we NEEDED to spend high draft pick on a runs fast jumps high guy. It seems like we did pretty well with what we had.

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Handsback's picture

June 11, 2020 at 08:06 am

Good job as usual Dusty! Agree Leatherhead...adding St. Brown back, along Funchess is like getting a double barrel of WR infusion w/o drafting one. Let's see how they look in training camp before panic reins for a new wideout.

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