Game Changers: Film Study of the Top 3 Plays of Packers – Eagles Playoff Game All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Watching the Packers – Eagles video again, three Packers players made plays that  stood out for me in terms of greatly affecting the outcome of the game.

The phrase “game changer” can have many meanings. It can be a play that sends a message, changes momentum, affects the score, cripples another team, etc. To me, I always include an incredible individual effort into the equation.

I look for individual players chasing perfection and catching excellence during the game. Players and plays that would make Vince Lombardi proud.

Of course, this is very subjective. I’m sure many of you will have different opinions, and I want to hear them. But for me, here are my three plays, in order of importance:

PLAY #3: Sam Shields Sends a Message:

The speed and talent that the Philadelphia Eagles have at wide receiver is no secret. They have won many  a game with big plays down the field to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Eight minutes into the first half, the Eagles decided to take their first shot.

As could be expected, they went after undrafted rookie Sam Shields. Seeing Shields with single coverage on Maclin, the Eagles tried to setup Shields and catch him looking in the backfield. As Vick give a half roll to his left and pump fakes, Maclin takes a few jog steps like he’s not involved and then suddenly turns on the burners.

You really couldn’t have blamed Shields if he had started drifting toward the middle of the field, but he didn’t.  You couldn’t have blamed Shields if he had let Maclin got behind him, but he didn’t. You couldn’t have blamed Shields if allowed Maclin to pull in a picture-perfect pass from Vick, but he didn’t.

Instead, on this play, Shields looked every much like the Pro Bowler that Tramon Williams should be. While we can expect Shields’ speed to be an asset, could we really expect a guy in only his second year playing the position to execute his coverage so perfectly while running at top speed? To stay shoulder to shoulder with him the whole way, not get called for interference, make a perfect play on the ball (preventing the catch by Maclin) and almost coming up with the ball himself?

This might be the most impressive coverage play I’ve seen all season, and it sent a message to the Eagles – you will not beat us with the bomb today. You will need to earn your points the hard way. A tone-setting play if I ever saw one.

Play #2 Brandon Jackson Salvages the TD Opportunity.

Midway through the third quarter, with the Packers holding on to a tenuous 14-10 lead (thank you James Jones), the Packers were on the tail end of a classic momentum re-claiming drive. There were two big third down completions during that drive and the Packers found themselves with a first and goal on the nine yard line.

Starks gains 3 yards on first down and then Daryn Colledge is called for a very questi0nable holding penalty, and the Packers suddenly find themselves with a second and goal on the sixteen. That means they have 2 plays to score a touchdown, or the drive will have to end in a field goal.

Brandon Jackson shows the perfect blend of patience and decisiveness on the screen play. AWaiting just long enough for his wall of blockers to get in front of him, but then picking his hole and just bursting through it. If you watch the play closely, the linemen hardly lay a hand on anyone (Scott Wells helps a little) and the key block is actually by WR James Jones.

But Jackson puts on a little burst at the right time which prevents him from getting taken down from behind by a diving Eagles player (the same one James Jones had just blocked). Then Jackson and the lineman all just rumble into the endzone together.

It was truly a fantastic individual effort by Jackson and a crucial difference in the scoreboard. Had the Packers been forced to settle for a field goal, the Packers’ lead is seven points, instead of eleven. When the Eagles later score, instead of having to try for the two point conversion, they kick the extra point and the game would be tied at 17.

That also means the Eagles would not have had to try to score a touchdown later on, and David Akers would have been given a chance to atone for his misses with a potential game winning kick, instead.

And yes, you can argue that a 17-17 game then changes the Packers’ offensive philosophy and they don’t play so close to the vest on their last 2 drives. But that’s purely hypothetical – while it could have resulted in a Packers score, it could also have resulted in a Packers turnover and a score for the Eagles, so we can’t use that argument.

Long story short, getting the touchdown here changed the whole endgame for both teams and the five point differential most likely insured the Packers the victory.

Play #1 Desmond Bishop Earns his New Fat Paycheck

What can you say about this play? 1:45 left in the game, the Packers protecting a five point lead. Desean Jackson catches the ball underneath, avoids Nick Collins and is on his way to the touchdown. Only Tramon Williams would have had a chance to make a stop, but the Eagles had two players about to block him.

My heart is dropping as I realize the Eagles are about to take the lead, when…

What to my wondering eyes should appear, but Desmond Bishop, who had been nowhere near.

Bishop comes from the other side of the field, takes the perfect angle, never hesitates, dives full out, and gets a few fingers on Jackson’s right foot. It’s just enough to trip up Jackson and disaster is averted.

This has to win the 2010 award for greatest individual effort when it was needed the most. Amazing, Desmond, just amazing.

Those are my three. What are yours?


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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for


23 thoughts on “Game Changers: Film Study of the Top 3 Plays of Packers – Eagles Playoff Game

  1. Great choice. I can’t think of any plays to put ahead of them. IMO, 3A was the 3rd and 5 completion to Driver on the first 3rd down of our last scoring drive. Rodgers knew he was going to get absolutely nailed, but got the ball out perfectly. If that ball falls incomplete, we go 3-and-out right after Philly cut it to 14-10. The momentum swing would have been huge. Instead, we pull off the drive of the year and put the game out of reach.

  2. Nice post, Al. Like Ruppert, I’m hard pressed to argue with your 3. The Bishop tackle would be my #1, just because I was resigned to Desean Jackson scoring there. I’ve only watched the game back once since Sunday, but already those plays feel like they’re committed to long-term memory!

    Even on the Eagles’ last TD drive, there were some pretty key defensive plays to ensure that the clock kept winding down. I’d have to go back and watch it again to pick any of them out individually.

    Here’s hoping we have a whole new set of favourite plays after Saturday’s game.

    1. First,thanks for coming all the way across the pond to visit. Hope you stop in again.

      When you watch it again, if you can stop the playback, do it right as Bishop gets his fingers on Jackson’s foot. It’s an image that will be burned into my mind forever.

  3. Perhaps Masthay and Pat Lee get a combined award for the punt and coverage work towards the end of the 3rd Q when the Packers had to punt from inside their own 10.

    I think Winston Justice’s mini-meltdown helped out on the following drive, but the Eagles having to start in their own half was a huge bonus there and ultimately led to Akers’ second FG miss.

  4. Yeah. People are commending Tramon (rightfully so), but they’re forgetting that Bishop literally saved the game.

  5. The run by Jackson on that screen was probably Jackson’s best play of the year. He was extremely patient and read his blockers perfectly. I have been hard on Jackson this year, and rightfully so I believe. But that play makes up for atleast 5 tackles behind the line because he was dancing and indecisive.

    When the Shields play happened live I thought the Packers were lucky that Maclin did not make the catch. When I watched the replay I thought the Eagles were lucky Shields did not make the pick.

    Question: Did Slocum really tell Mashtay to punt the ball to Jackson on the Packers last punt? The Eagles had a holding penalty so it did not come back to haunt them, but Slocum did watch the Giants game….right?

  6. I did not realize until viewing the clip of Sam Shields’ break up that he was remotely close to taking that ball away. At full speed during the game, it looked like he just barely got enough of the ball to rip it out at the last second. Amazing, didn’t know he had both hands on the ball coming down. So close.

    Second observation from your clips- I can’t get over how good the salesmanship and the timing of the O line is on the Brandon Jackson screen TD. Watching Colledge, Wells, and Sitton sell the Pass pro for nearly two full seconds, and the precise timing (Particularly of Sitton and Colledge) of the release as they slip outside and set the screen is mesmerizing. I can’t believe this Packers offense, the one that has not been able to run even a half-assed screen since Wahl and Rivera left, pulled off that play. Awesome.

    1. First Maclin had it, them Shields had it, then they they both had it, then neither had. All at full speed.

      I have mostly blamed the oline for the screen play issues. They were always out too early or too late. This was perfect.

  7. Great selections, Al. I’m finding it difficult to come up with any plays I would substitute for the three you picked.

    I have to admit, while watching it, I wasn’t really aware of how much Desmond Bishop did on that final drive. Perhaps from the camera angles I didn’t realize he was about the last line of defense against Jackson.

    Really, all three of these plays show just how much players have stepped up this year in the face of adversity.

  8. Three great choices!

    Shields: Firstly, you are totally correct and mentioning that Shields would not have been at fault for biting on a run considering the way Maclin slow-played it off the line (He played it perfectly by the way). And additionally, Shields was alert enough not to be on his heels so that when Maclin took off, he was step for step with him. Finally, to continue to have the awareness and focus to play the ball makes this one of the great defensive coverages of the season. NO ONE and I mean no one would have expected Shields to play this well this season. I really think Woodson and Williams have taken Shields under their wings.

    Jackson: As soon as I saw this play…AND THEN I saw Jackson slow down to wait for his blockers, I screamed in excitement! That is how you run a screen! And I’m surprised you didn’t mention this, but if you compare this directly to the fateful screen play Jackson ran in the NFC Championship game you can totally see how much Jackson has matured! This was an excellent play by everyone all around.

    Bishop: Game saving tackle, agreed! But I am still annoyed that in the heat of the moment, there were so many missed tackles. I know the Packers know that this is what killed them the last time in Atlanta and I hope the Packers are more focused overall.

    Good God I love my Packers! GO! PACK! GO!

  9. Interesting sidelight to the game. According to the Chicago press, if Gerry Angleo hadn’t burst into Chicago’s Draft Room just before their 5th round pick Starks would have been a Bear today. I guess Angelo got one of his inspriations and told the staff to change from Starks to a Western Nichigan DB. They had just got off the phone with Starks telling him he would be their pick. I guess we know why the Bears are so active in the Trade and FA markets. Thanks Bears, and by the way you still suck!

    Since the beginning of the year Shields has become a true cover guy. He can hold his own against almost any NFL WR. Soon he will turn this into Ints. Dom is a maker of miracles. This has happened in less than one year.

    We would like to see more highlights of the offense when they occur. Are you listening MM? The Offense must play all four quarters in Atl. Anything less will result in a loss.

  10. Bishop’s hustle and tackle is #1. Because of the time and score in the game. We all would most likely be talking about the changes the Packers need to make for next season.
    Can’t wait for Saturday!

  11. I whole-heartedly agree when you state, “NO ONE and I mean no one would have expected Shields to play this well this season”, but I’ll even one-up your statement with this:

    No one.. but NO ONE, would have expected Sam Shields to play AT ALL this season.

    He was brought in as a hopeful return specialist due to he blazing speed, and purely as a developmental player as a CB. His ticket to the active roster was going to be special teams play.. Or, at least, that was what the Packers were selling to the public (and the rest of the NFL).

    I really believe that when Shields panned out to be a failure at KR/PR during the preseason, the Packers were planning on stashing him on practice squad. The problem was, during that last preseason game (or was it the 3rd one?) he flashed so much talent at the CB position, it forced the Packers to place him on the active roster, knowing full well with his documented speed and the raw ability at CB that was now on tape, he’d never make it past waivers. This is what my gut tells me, at any rate.

    Sure glad it worked out the way it did. I can’t believe he’s an undrafted rookie who has only played CB one year in college. Amazing.

  12. I remember in the pre season talking on the chtv training camp live blogs about wether shields would make the team or not, and the main consensus was not unless he could learn to be the punt/kick returner and that he hadn’t played enough cb to contribute. I remember Alex commented that he thought that shields would be this years Tyrell Sutton. A fan favorite but not make the squad.

  13. Man when Jackson caught that ball and started to avade tackles i can not discribe the feeling that my stomach went through and then no.55 made the game saver and man was that a relief.

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