Packers Xs and Os Film Session: Momentum Swing to Victory

Photo credit: Christian Peterson/Getty Images

On Sunday, after shockingly falling behind to the New York Jets 21-3 in the first half, the Green Bay Packers mounted a furious comeback to win the game 31-24.

Comebacks are total team efforts because the defense has to limit the opponent’s score from increasing while the offense attempts to chip away at the lead.

It’s also extremely important during a comeback to steal the momentum during key moments, otherwise there’s the risk of the game getting out of hand. Against the Jets, things almost got completely away from the Packers with 3:12 remaining in the first half.

After the Packers kicked a field goal to cut the lead to 21-9 with 3:12 remaining in the second quarter, they attempted an onside kick, which wasn’t successful. That gave the Jets the ball at their own 48 yard line. The Jets were in great shape to add at least 3 more points, and maybe 7, in a two-minute drill before the half ended. If they did, the game would probably have been out of hand and the lead would be too demoralizing.

But, the Packers were able to swing the momentum and mount a comeback. I’ll break down two key plays that made that possible.

Play One: A Good Pass Rush is a Defensive Back’s Best Friend

A good pass rush helps out defensive backs and makes them look great. Just remember back to Super Bowl XLV and Howard Green and the Nick Collins pick-6.

Right at the two-minute warning, Tramon Williams was able to intercept an errant Geno Smith pass. This accomplished two very important things. First, it prevented the Jets from scoring more points, which were in field goal range. Second, it gave the ball back to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense with almost two minutes remaining in the half. That’s just enough time to drive for points.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

So, what happened during the play that led to the interception?

The Packers weren’t in any exotic defense. They were in their base 3-4 to counter the Jets’ 13 personnel package. They had a single-high safety while sending five pass rushers. Because they were sending five rushers, they had to have man-to-man coverage across the board.

The key to the play was Mike Daniels getting home to hit the quarterback. Once he hit Smith, he lofted a duck, which fell safely into the waiting hands of Tramon Williams. Truthfully, the man-to-man coverage wasn’t all that great, so it’s extremely fortunate that Daniels disrupted the throw because receivers were open everywhere. A laser to the outside shoulder would have setup first and goal. See the GIF below for the the play break down.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Play Two: Third Down Conversion to the Middle of the Field

After Williams intercepted the ball, the Packers had 1:52 and three timeouts to at least get into field goal position. They did one better and went 97 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 21-16.

New game.

There were many important plays during that drive, but one really sticks out to me. It was a 3rd and 10 conversion from Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams with 0:23 remaining.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

What was remarkable about this play? Several things.

First, the Packers caught the Jets in an exotic blitz package. They sent five pass rushers, and one of them was the slot cornerback on a blitz. To allow the slot cornerback to blitz, the Jets needed to drop a defensive end into coverage. He was responsible for the running back in the middle of the field. Also, the free safety needed to rotate down to cover the slot receiver who was left by the slot cornerback.

The Jets played man-to-man across the board with a single-high safety. During the two-minute drill, the defense makes covering the sideline a premium, because out of bounds is a free timeout, and will happily give up short routes in the middle of the field. That’s why they were okay with the defensive end dropping in pass coverage and letting the slot receiver squat in front of the free safety.

The Packers used a high-low concept, but they didn’t attack the sidelines that the Jets were guarding. They let rookie Davante Adams find space between the cornerback and the strong safety in the middle of the field. It was a deep enough route to gain a first down and move the chains, and it was a nice run after the catch to move the ball closer to the end zone. It also shows the developing chemistry between Adams and Rodgers, and the two-minute drill is the place where those relationships and created and tested.

Going back to my original point in play one above, a good pass rush is a defensive back’s best friend. In the play below, the Packers did an okay, but not good, job in pass protection. Derek Sherrod did a nice job. My biggest complaint is DuJuan Harris got destroyed in pass protection, but Rodgers was still able to get rid of the ball in rhythm. It was a quick-hit concept, so the pass rush didn’t fully get home to disrupt the throw. See the GIF below for the break down.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Two plays later, the Packers were in the end zone. The comeback was well in force.

Don’t underestimate this momentum swing. If the Packers weren’t able to turn the ball over and score before the end of the first half, they probably don’t win this game. And, this comeback has the potential to define the season. If they would have folded, the season may have been rocky for quite some time. But, since they won, they have something positive to build upon moving forward.

Every season has a few key moments, and someday when we look back at 2014, this turn of events may be one such moment.

I believe the GIFs embedded above to be fair use under the premise of being short clips of the original broadcast that are transformative for news reporting, commentary, critique, illustration, and teaching purposes.


Jay Hodgson is an independent sports blogger writing for and

Follow Jay on twitter at @jys_h.


23 thoughts on “Packers Xs and Os Film Session: Momentum Swing to Victory

  1. Well Jay, thank you again. This was very obvious, that decsribed action of D and offensive drive were the momentum that won the game. But! If we will learn from the history, this is huge mistake made by referees. There was no interception. There was TD for the Jets. It was almost same situation as “fail mary” situation, just less players included (and, yes, there was no offensive PI). So, I think referees gave us that win~~~~!

    1. croatpackfan, what mistake did the refs make on Tramon’s interception? (It wasn’t in the end-zone.)

      Are you thinking of the false time out call in the 4th quarter?

      1. No, I thought Tramons interception. He caught the ball (as it was at Seattle!), then
        Jets player grabbed him and the ball from behind and they felt down to the end zone, didn’t they?

        1. In the case of simultaneous possession, you would be right. In this case, I would argue that the initial possession is clearly on TWill (he makes initial contact with the ball and controls it on the way down, then the TE grabs on) which means simultaneous possession is out. The TE is trying to wrestle possession away at that point.

          The Fail Mary play was just a bizarre circumstance altogether (poor angle by one ref, good angle by another ref, no discussion prior to making a call, one ref with the good view ceding to the ref with the poor view, etc. etc.)…in fact, I’m choosing to not recognize its existence from this time forward.

          1. Thank you for reading my comments (I know, sometimes it is just mission impossible… ;-)). I just wanted to point out the similarity of the situation. And that, bacuase NFL back up Fail Mary referees. Nothing else. Because, this “flag throwing issue” this year will produce more similar situation.

      2. And finally it came out that one player told the referee to stop the clock! So, basically he called TO! I can’t find the link at the moment but I think it was posted on either NFL spin zone or ESPN…

        1. You’re gonna have to learn to write better dude, i don’t mean to be insulting, I honestly am having a hard time understanding what you’re saying.

          But I think somewhere in there you said the refs gave us the game? Because of the TO called just before that last JETS TD?

          Most of the Packers defenders also saw the TO called and didn’t put in a full effort on the play, thus letting the TD happen. The refs didn’t win us the game, not even close.

          1. I’m apologizing for my English. I’m not native speaker of it. And I know sometimes I write like a mess. Basically I wanted to compare ironically this inetrception and Fail Mary TD. This was very similar situation, don’t you think?
            EDIT: I was not offended. I know how much I know!

  2. Mike Daniels is officially our second best defensive player behind Clay Matthews. I keep thinking how small this guy is, and how it’s a disadvantage for him. Like if he had someone like Datone Jones or Justin Tuck’s body he’d be a real force to deal with. But it’s almost as if he uses his small size to his advantage, he move around real quickly, and gets the passer in a hurry. In either case, he’s a disruptive force that our defense has lacked since Cullen Jenkins was let go.

    Now if Datone could somehow get his ass in gear already, this defense would be completely impenetrable. Iron curtain type of deal. I’ve read that it typically takes as long as four years for a pass rusher to come into his own, but how sweet would it be if Datone found a spark this year?

    Call me crazy, but I honestly think we would, and still could, have the best defense in the NFL this year. Wish we could have faced Seattle about mid-season, would be a completely different ball game.

      1. Now look, I’m really encouraged to hear that, I am. It’s just that he’s a first round draft pick that hasn’t had many positive grades since coming in, yet the Packers made him a starter. Reports from training camp last year were that he was absolutely tearing it up. He hasn’t been tearing it up in the games yet though. I’m glad he’s made a few plays, but what we really need on that line is someone who can cause the key word “penetration”. Penetration is what Cullen Jenkins had, and what Daniels proved he was capable of in this last game.

        This defense is one more good player away from becoming one of the best units in the entire NFL, which is what we’ve lacked since 2010. I don’t just want Jones to be a disruptive force, he NEEDS to be, and he hasn’t shown enough just yet.

  3. As much as the Tramon INT was huge and the Packers were able to score before half.lets remember that the on side kick was just as HUGE a mistake to call as it came very close to making a 28-9 game in stead.The effect that could have had on the defense in the second half could have been enormous in the Jets favor….I know it didn’t but do you want to set your team up for it?

    As for the game ending TD and the TO….I have concern for players who don’t play out the play….because you HEAR timeout doesn’t mean there is and how the decision goes is still unknown.If the TO call is subject to review..we lose that game as its clear Rex DIDN’T call it and he is the only one on the side line that can.

    Losing by bad Ref calls is high..relying on Ref calls to win is ridiculous. 🙂

    1. I think the author was trying to focus on the positives that lead to the victory not the what if negatives that could have lead to the loss. Try to stick on the subject and not stray. You and Croat seem to want to focus on the what ifs. Everyone is aware of those. Thankfully they didn’t happen. Be glad we won and we are not 0-2.

      1. Focusing on the positives is great and a morale builder but losing sight of the negatives that created a positive via happenstance,is what likely bites you in the arse when the table is set with more to lose…putting in perspective. 🙂

    2. The Packers players didn’t “hear the timeout call”, they heard the whistle! TWill and others have been quoted as specifically saying the whistle blew before the play started,

    3. How quickly people forget the fumble that was taken away from the Packers by the refs earlier in the game… You gain and you lose through officiating.

      The Jets had the opportunity to complete their drive after that time-out call, yet they couldn’t do it. That says more about their team than some controversial call which wiped out a possible touchdown.

      1. Pack also benefited greatly by 12 men on the field call when AROD threw INT. Given fumble of snap to begin game and MM’s moronic onsides kick call, and the TO call and teh 12 men call, I think it is safe to say that Pack was VERY lucky to win that game. What they did on their own to win the game was stop the run in the 2nd half. The Jets losing their three best players helped too: Wilkerson, Decker and Milliner. Milliner’s ankle tighten up on him just before the TD to Jordy. That was his last play. He was doing a great job in the 1st half.

        DET is hurting in its secondary and the Bears have lost their best CB for the season. And MN is w/o AP. All lucky breaks for GB. Let’s see if they can take 4 straight (incl Jets). And even if they do, @Miami, CAR and @NOR is another tough 3 games to follow. GB has a very tough schedule this year. Will help them in teh long-run, provided they make the play-offs.

        1. I just wanted to clear up the misconception about ARod’s interception that was overturned by penalty.
          Rodgers knew before he even threw the pass that it was a free play(he said so later). He saw the twelfth man trying to get off the field had Linsley snap the ball quickly. Rather than risk taking a cheap hit he threw as soon as possible to the closest target in his range of vision. Maybe it connects, but if not, so what.

        2. Also want to question what you refer to as a lucky win.
          Sure Wilkerson is one of their best players, but he was only gone for one of the Packers scoring drives – the last one to Jordy. And unless he came completely free, I doubt if he would have made a difference. The play was executed to perfection.
          As far as Decker and Milliner, I wouldn’t consider them among their top three. And keep in mind, Jordy was bitch-slapping(oops, in today’s NFL can’t say that) Milliner prior to the long TD.
          As far as injuries, the Packers have played without their starting RT for most of two games, and their best receiving TE. They lost versatile secondary player and kick returner Hyde for much of the game.
          It wasn’t luck that won this last game, just a better overall performance from the better team.

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