GREEN BAY—Packers.com’s review of the top plays of the season returns with another series of “Signature Snaps.”
With each top five list, the accompanying video and poll will allow you, the fans, to review the plays and vote for your favorite. The top vote-getter in each category will then be included in our final “play of the year” segment.
The third installment of this year’s “Signature Snaps” series features the top five defensive plays of 2012, presented here in chronological order:
M.D. Jennings, 72-yard interception return TD at Detroit, Week 11
A game-changer if there ever was one, this play gave the Packers a big boost on a day their offense struggled. With the Lions leading 10-7 midway through the third quarter and across midfield, Matthew Stafford’s pass deflected off the hands of tight end Tony Scheffler and Jennings was there to snag it. With some tightrope work down the sideline and a convoy of blockers, Jennings took it the distance for the Packers’ first defensive touchdown of the season.
Morgan Burnett, interception in end zone vs. Minnesota, Week 13
The Vikings were poised to add to their 14-10 lead early in the third quarter when quarterback Christian Ponder made an ill-advised decision. Rolling to his right, he tried to throw back across the field to receiver Michael Jenkins along the end line, but Burnett was in position to leap high and haul it in. The Packers went on to score the final 13 points of the game for a critical NFC North win.
Mike Daniels, 43-yard fumble return TD vs. Detroit, Week 14
Daniels was Johnny-on-the-spot when the ball slipped out of Stafford’s hand and lay harmlessly on the turf in the second quarter of a prime-time contest. The rookie defensive lineman didn’t just fall on it, though. He showed his athleticism by scooping it up and rumbling all the way to a Lambeau Leap, making the key play in the Packers’ comeback from an early 14-0 deficit.
Casey Hayward, interception at Chicago, Week 15
Hayward led the Packers, and all NFL rookies, with six interceptions in 2012, and this might have been his biggest. In a 7-7 tie late in the second quarter, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Devin Hester were not on the same page, and Hayward was right there to pick off the wayward throw. A 24-yard return set up a touchdown right before halftime, and when the Packers added another score to open the third quarter, they were on their way to clinching a second straight division title.
Sam Shields, 52-yard interception return TD at San Francisco, NFC Divisional
On just the fourth snap of the game, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made his first and perhaps only mistake. Scrambling to his left, he fired a pass right to Shields, who went straight up the sideline for a touchdown and early 7-0 lead. Unfortunately, this was the last defensive highlight for the Packers in this game, and consequently, in their season.
Be sure to watch the video and vote for your favorite in the poll.