GREEN BAY – A portion of the Packers’ offensive efficiency in Carolina can be traced to a healthy dose of short-yardage success.
When needing three or fewer yards to pick up a first down, the Packers got the necessary yardage in 8-of-10 instances, and the two times they didn’t, they converted on the next play.
What follows is a rundown of several short-yardage plays, showing the different ways the Packers found success. Two of them include a surprise short-yardage blocker not normally associated with these types of plays.
Play No. 1: Second-and-3 from the Carolina 33, first quarter, 3:50 left
Result: 9-yard run by RB Jamaal Williams
This is what you call finishing blocks. Watch the work done here by LG Lane Taylor (65) on LB Luke Kuechly (59) and by C Corey Linsley (63) on DT Kawann Short (99). Both Green Bay blockers eventually get their guys on the ground as Williams powers ahead for his longest run of the game.
Play No. 2: Third-and-2 from the Carolina 16, first quarter, 1:41 left
Result: 2-yard run by Williams
This time it’s TE Richard Rodgers (82) who takes out Kuechly, and here’s the first appearance of the surprise short-yardage blocker, WR Randall Cobb (18). Cobb goes low for a textbook cut-block on DE Bryan Cox Jr. (91), clearing the way for Williams to move the chains.
Play No. 3: Second-and-1 from the Green Bay 19, second quarter, 6:58 left
Result: 23-yard run by RB Aaron Jones
This is a short-yardage handoff that turns into a big play, as LT David Bahktiari (69) walls off DE Julius Peppers (90) and Taylor turns Short to the inside, opening a huge hole. Jones is too fast for LB Thomas Davis (58) screaming into the backfield from the edge, and he breaks off a big one.
Play No. 4: Second-and-1 from the Carolina 36, second quarter, 1:22 left
Result: 3-yard run by Williams
This one unfolds a little differently than most. Just before the snap, Kuechly backs off the line of scrimmage into a more traditional middle linebacker spot. That gives Bakhtiari the opportunity to help Taylor double-team DT Kyle Love (93), and Bahktiari’s extra shove clears plenty of room for Williams to get the first down. Kuechly gets Bakhtiari off-balance at the end of the play, but the Pro Bowl left tackle has done his job, and the Packers score on a 33-yard TD pass to Cobb on the next play.
Play No. 5: Fourth-and-1 from the Carolina 35, third quarter, 2:57 left
Result: 7-yard run by QB Aaron Rodgers
A great call here by Rodgers to keep the ball on the read-option, as the fake leads to a bunch of defenders crashing inside. The last bit of help he needs comes from – surprise – Cobb, who actually gets a 2-for-1 on this cut-block by taking down both Peppers and CB Kevon Seymour (27).