Revisiting 2019 - Week 8: Shifting a Game in 3 plays

Dusty breaks down some pivotal plays from the Packers victory over the Chiefs.

Our review of the 2019 season finds us in Kansas City. The Rodgers v Mahomes match-up was one that was circled on many a calendar before the season started. Unfortunately, Patrick Mahomes missed the game with an injury, but Andy Reid is Andy Reid so we still got a really fun game. We also got a Packers victory. Today we're going to look at 3 plays that helped shift the game in the Packers favor, and one play that helped them clinch it. Let's get rolling.

Play 1: 1st & 10, 1:24 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Packers tied 17-17

The Packers just completed a 15 play, 72 yard drive that spanned 8:33. They weren't able to finish it off with a touchdown, but they were able to tie it up with a field goal. After the kick-off, the Chiefs started their drive at the 25 yard line.

The first thing we need to talk about is Tyreek Hill [10] skipping under the formation on the jet sweep look.

Now that we've got that out of the way...

The Chiefs are looking to run LeSean McCoy [25] up the middle. The inital plan seems to be the A gap on the right side. Austin Reiter [62] releases upfied from his center position to block Blake Martinez [50] at the second level. McCoy is heading towards that gap, but Tyler Lancaster [95] is able to get inside position on Martinas Rankin [74].

That inside position gives McCoy a cutback lane, and he takes it. With Travis Kelce [87] getting in the way of Za'Darius Smith [55] on the edge, it looks like McCoy has a sliver of room to work with.

Lancaster is able to disengage from his block and dive back into the cutback lane to punch the ball out of McCoy's hands. As fate would have it, the ball bounced right back into the loving arms of Lancaster, giving him the forced fumble and the fumble recovery.

Instead of the Chiefs looking to drive down the field and re-take the lead, the Packers found themselves with the ball at the Chiefs 27.

Play 2: 3rd & 1, 14:05 remaining in the 4th quarter, Packers tied 17-17

After the fumble, Aaron Rodgers [12] dropped back to pass on the next 4 plays. He only attempted 1 pass (incomplete to Geronimo Allison), but he was able to pick up 24 yards with his legs. The Packers found themselves facing 3rd & 1 at the 3 yard line. Aaron Rodgers dropped back again, this time looking to pick up a touchdown pass off a slant/corner concept on the right side.

The play didn't work exactly as they had hoped, but the result ended up being just fine. Rodgers is looking for Jamaal Williams to open up on the slant. For a moment it looks like they have it, but Tanoh Kpassagnon [92] does a good job of dropping off of Jimmy Graham [80] and picking up Williams. 

Rodgers looks to the left, but doesn't have a clean throwing lane to Aaron Jones [33] on the curl.

The rush begins to break down the pocket and Rodgers doesn't have an escape path. He sees Graham on the right and also sees Williams streaking behind him. Rodgers throws it to the back pylon, figuring Graham or Williams may be able to haul it in. Graham doesn't have a shot, but Williams comes down with a beauty; diving in the back corner of the end zone and getting a knee down. 

It goes down in the books as a 3 yard touchdown pass, but it's one of the best 3 yard touchdown passes I've ever seen. In a career of making insane throws, this one immediately found itself looking at the top 10.

I want to stick on this play for a moment because I hear the same criticism of Rodgers every time I post it: "he should have just gone to Aaron Jones." From the individual angles, it can be tough to get a clear picture of what exactly is going on, so I decided to sync up both views from the coaches film.

Rodgers sits on the slant/corner for a couple beats, waiting for the slant to open up. Once Kpassagnon drops under Williams, Rodgers moves to his left. The lane looks like it could be open on the freeze-frame, but Derek Nnadi [91] is breaking through the line. To complicate matters further, Tyrann Mathieu [32] is sitting on Jones, waiting for Rodgers to throw this. If Rodgers goes over the top to avoid Nnadi, Mathieu jumps it. If Rodgers tries to shoot the throwing lane, Nnadi bats the ball into the air.

So, while Jones looks open in the wide shot, I believe that moving off of that throw was the smart choice.

Play 3: 2nd & 2, 8:14 remaining in the 4th quarter, Packers tied 24-24

The Chiefs followed up that glorious touchdown with a 10 play drive that ended in a touchdown, knotting up the score at 24. The Packers started off the following drive with an 8 yard run by Aaron Jones. 

On the second play, Jones lines up wide. Much like the rest of the game, he was covered by a linebacker. This time, it is Anthony Hitchens [53]. 

Jimmy Graham [80] is in the slot and Jones motions in before the snap, giving them a stacked-WR look out of the slot. That alignment allows Graham to get a good blocking angle on Hitchens. David Bakhtiari [69] fires out from the line to block Damien Wilson [54]. Both of those linebackers fire outside on the throw, setting them up for the blocks and giving Jones a great lane to work with.

Graham and Bakhtiari sealing their blocks allows Corey Linsley [63] a chance to get all the way up to the safety. Jones turns on the jets once he is in the clear, and it's all over but the crying. 

Play 4: 3rd & 3, 5:18 remaining in the 4th quarter, Packers leading 31-24

After the touchdown, the Chiefs started with the ball on their own 22. After picking up 18 yards on their first 5 plays, the Chiefs faced 3rd & 3 from their own 40.

The Chiefs have slant/flat action on the right, with Travis Kelce running a dig route from his in-line position. Matt Moore [8] is initially looking at the slant route, but moves to Kelce because Jaire Alexander [23] is in excellent position to defend Sammy Watkins [14] on the slant. 

Moore has nice-timing on the throw, but Chandon Sullivan [39] reacts perfectly. As soon as Blake Martinez [50] drops down towards the line, Sullivan fires down on Kelce just as Moore is throwing the ball.

Kelce throttles down in the hole between the linebackers and Sullivan makes a perfect play to break it up. Instead of extending the drive and possibly driving for a tying touchdown, the Chiefs punt the ball away. They had all 3 of their timeouts, but they never see the ball again. The Packers pick up 39 yards in 8 plays and end the game in the victory formation.

Four plays - all occurring between the very end of the 3rd quarter and the 4th quarter - made a huge difference in determining the outcome of the game.

If you want to relive some passing concepts from this week 8 match-up, you can do that here. It was a really fun week.

I also recorded a breakdown video this past week! I walked through the Week 7 Rodgers-to-Kumerow touchdown against the Raiders. There was a lot of fun stuff to talk about, so I hope you dig it.

Albums listened to: Father John Misty - Off-Key in Hamburg; The Verve - A Storm in Heaven; M. Ward - Migration Stories


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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Comments (3)

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murf7777's picture

April 09, 2020 at 07:25 am

Nice breakdown....I get a bit frustrated with fans who think a QB should hit any player who seems to be open after said fan watched the replay. (Arm chair QB) The problem with that criticism is that a QB on normal routes has 3 seconds or less to make that decision. If a play is suppose to go to the left side and a player on the right gets open for that fraction of a second or a second the QB might not have seen that and by the time he does the play is at great risk of an INT. No QB can see the whole field all at once at any given fraction of a second.

That being said, there are times especially with Rodgers where he seeks the big play more so then the dump off and that can be frustrating. I noticed in MLF first year O Rodgers hitting that play more often then the past. I also believe that will happen more in the future which will open up the big play pass that Rodgers so much loves. It will also help as he gets better weapons.

Other then a couple of QB’s I’ll still take Rodgers as my QB over the next few years.

2 points
Booner's picture

April 09, 2020 at 07:47 am

Here is really the biggest play of that game! Patrick Mahomes will not be playing on Sunday!

1 points
Spock's picture

April 10, 2020 at 06:03 am

Dusty, I always enjoy your nuanced breakdowns of what happened during each play. The last one was a tad wordy, but that's okay as you very much drove home the reasons why Rodgers would have Kumerow as his last read and I enjoyed the comments about the footwork. I remember Nagler sharing a video of Rodgers interviewing during a golf outing and his explaining how important a QB's footwork and lower body positioning allows him to pass from "awkward" seeming positions and why he sometimes would "jump" into the throw. Very interesting. Thanks for your work on this.

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