GREEN BAY – The Packers’ return game is coming to life.
Green Bay turned in three significant returns in its victory over Houston last Sunday – 21 and 23 yards by Randall Cobb on punts, and 39 yards by Ty Montgomery on a kickoff – but Head Coach Mike McCarthy was far from satisfied.
McCarthy felt with some more sustained blocks, one or two of those returns could have gone the distance. If he’s right, perhaps the Packers aren’t far away from really breaking one.
Give Cobb and Montgomery a ton of credit for making the first tacklers miss. In the snowy, slippery conditions, slowing down from a full head of steam to bring down a shifty return man is no easy task, and Cobb and Montgomery took advantage of some over-aggressive pursuit by the Texans.
They got a few good blocks along the way, too, and those are highlighted here. As for the other blocks that might have made these good returns game-breaking ones, see what you think.
Play No. 1: Houston punting from own 22, first quarter, 6:15 left
Result: 21-yard return by Cobb
Cobb’s initial cut to the right is a thing of beauty, as Texans CB Robert Nelson (32) loses outside leverage and Cobb has some space. The blocks to watch are from WR Jeff Janis (83), who stays on LB Brian Peters (52) long enough for Cobb to get by, and from LB Carl Bradford (54), who impressively walls off TE Stephen Anderson along the sideline, not allowing him to get even a sniff of Cobb.
Play No. 2: Houston punting from its own 48, second quarter, 5:20 left
Result: 23-yard return by Cobb
Cobb’s initial elusiveness here is remarkable, as he makes three or four Texans miss near the spot of the catch. But also credit CB Josh Hawkins (28) for staying with Nelson most of the way down the field and essentially taking not just him out of the play, but RB Jonathan Grimes (41), too.
The wonder here is how far Cobb might have gone had he stayed to the outside and followed Montgomery (88) rather than cutting it back to the middle.
Play No. 3: Houston kickoff, third quarter, 7:32 left
Result: 39-yard return by Montgomery
Montgomery fields the squib kick quickly and has a chance to get going in a hurry. He gets two key blocks – from TE Richard Rodgers (82) on Grimes (41) and from DE Datone Jones (95) on WR Keith Mumphrey (12) – with additional blockers in front as he makes progress.
Unfortunately, neither S Kentrell Brice (29) nor FB Aaron Ripkowski (22) is able to get out in front of Nelson, or Montgomery is probably gone. Nelson is the one who forces Montgomery out of bounds.
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