B.J. Raji lined up in the offensive backfield on the goal line twice in the playoffs last season.
The first time, he was lead blocker for John Kuhn on a TD plunge. The second, he was a decoy as quarterback Aaron Rodgers ran a naked bootleg for a score.
On Sunday, it was his turn to get the ball.
Raji, who nicknamed himself “The Freezer” in the playoffs last year as a second act behind Chicago’s William “The Refrigerator” Perry in the 1980s, capped the Packers’ first scoring drive on Sunday with a 1-yard dive.
It took a while for the officials to get into the pile and make sure Raji had, in fact, scored, but he never had any doubts.
“Just the way I was facing and laying on top of bodies, I saw the line and knew I was across it,” Raji said.
The play was simple but deceptive. After Rodgers handed off quickly to Raji, he reached out with his other arm to run a fake to Kuhn, who was lined up deeper.
Tampa Bay linebacker Quincy Black had keyed on Kuhn and clocked him with a big hit, but he wasn’t the only one fooled.
“I think it even got the refs a little bit, because I think the side judge thought I had the ball and was coming to spot me,” Kuhn said. “It wasn’t until I got up without the ball that he saw B.J. had it.”
It’s the second touchdown of Raji’s career and first in the regular season. He scored on an interception return in the NFC Championship at Chicago last January.
Does that mean fantasy football players around the country should pick him up now?
“I think it would be in their best interests to,” Raji joked. “I’m just kidding. I don’t know when’s the next time I’ll get the ball, so I wouldn’t bet on that.”
Déjà vu, sort of: Tight end Tom Crabtree had only scored one touchdown in his career previously, on a 7-yard reception in the NFC Wild Card playoffs in Philadelphia last season.
He found the end zone again on Sunday with a 5-yard catch, on nearly an identical play-action pass to the right side. Crabtree said it wasn’t the exact same play, but it was similar.
“The linebacker was out there on the edge, and I released outside of him and it was wide open,” he said. “It worked out just like we had practiced it.”
Known as a blocking tight end, Crabtree now has 10 receptions in his career, including playoffs, and two have produced TDs.
Neal debuts: Defensive end Mike Neal made his season debut, playing a limited number of snaps, primarily as an inside rusher on third downs in the nickel package.
Neal said his knee, which he injured during training camp, feels fine and he expects to be able to play again on Thursday in Detroit.
He wasn’t credited with any defensive statistics from the press box crew, but Neal’s defensive mates were glad to see him back out on the field. Neal missed all but two games last season as a rookie due to various injuries.
“I saw one of the snapshots from the game, and the pressure he was bringing from the opposite edge was fantastic,” outside linebacker Clay Matthews said. “A guy of his caliber, his strength and overall build is only going to help us out getting pressure on the quarterback and collapsing the pocket.”
Major milestone: Veteran receiver Donald Driver had his most productive game of the season, with four catches for 72 yards. With his second catch of the day, a 35-yarder early in the third quarter, he went over 10,000 career yards from scrimmage.
He’s just the second Packers player to reach that milestone, joining running back Ahman Green. Driver now has 10,065 career yards from scrimmage, all but 217 of them receiving. Green had 11,048 yards from scrimmage in his Green Bay career.
On a streak: Cornerback Tramon Williams intercepted two passes on Sunday and now has picked off at least one pass in three straight games.
That’s the second time in his career Williams has put together a three-game streak. The other came in 2008, when he was filling in for an injured Al Harris as the starter.
The two-INT game is Williams’ first during the regular season. He also had two interceptions in the playoffs in Atlanta last season.
Injury update: Running back James Starks left the game late in the fourth quarter with what Head Coach Mike McCarthy termed a knee sprain. McCarthy said further tests would be done and there would be an update on Monday.
For the game, Starks had 11 carries for 38 yards and six receptions for 53 yards. The receiving numbers were both career highs. Additional coverage - Packers vs. Bucs