12

December

Packers Drive Rewind: 7 Straight Runs Give Packers the Lead

Evan Dietrich-Smith

Evan Dietrich-Smith

Packers Drive Rewind is a new weekly post I hope to do for the rest of the season. That’s the goal, anyway. With the holidays coming up, I might not have time, or I just might forget. You never know.

Anyway, I want to take one key drive from each game and break it down with some film and my own thoughts. I’m not doing this to lecture everyone or prove how much I know about X’s and O’s. I just want to talk football. I did something similar last week.

If you think my observations are off the mark, or you have additional insight to add, please do so in the comments section. We have a lot of very knowledgeable readers on this site and I always enjoy their perspective on some of the more nuanced aspects of the game.

(Note: It’s hard to see numbers on some of the Lions players. My apologies if I mix up a few players.)

Here we go:

The Situation
Fourth quarter. Packers 17, Lions 17. Packers ball on their own 41 with 14:49 to play.

The Result
The Packers run the ball seven consecutive times, capped by a 14-yard touchdown from DuJuan Harris. The powerful drive appeared to demoralize the Lions and the Packers won 27-20. Packers fans tear off their shirts and start posing like Hulk Hogan.

Play 1: Alex Green runs left for 6 yards

Alex Green says, “Give me the ball and let’s get this party started.” Kyle Vanden Bosch slants in, but gets taken out by his own momentum and Marshall Newhouse pushing him down the line. Nice job by Green to recognize this and burst through the hole after John Kuhn got in DeAndre Levy’s way. We’ve seen Green fall over himself or not see similar cuts this season. Watching him burst through a hole is a good sign of progress. Jeff Saturday and Evan Dietrich-Smith manhandle Nick Fairley. I wonder if Saturday was supposed to get off the block and try to pick up Stephen Tulloch (who eventually made the tackle)?

Play 2: Green runs right for 2 yards

Greg Van Roten checks in, goes in motion, and settles on the right side. Hopefully we get to see a Van Roten Lambeau Leap this season. Not on this play, though. Van Roten stumbles a bit coming off a double-team against Nkdomukong Suh and he’s not quite able to cut off Justin Durant on the second level. Green eventually runs out of room and is forced out by Durant. That’s a challenging block for Van Roten. I wonder if the play would’ve worked better if Kuhn makes that block, but I’m sure McCarthy was trying to mess with Detroit’s reads by sending Kuhn in the other direction.

Play 3: Green runs up the middle for 10 yards

Here’s where Rodgers looks downfield, right? Wrong. Saturday easily gets to the second level this time and is joined by Jermichael Finley. Dietrich-Smith drives Nick Fairley into the ground after Saturday leaves. Sitton takes care of Suh and the middle is wide open. Great job by Dietrich-Smith. Good defensive tackles can blow up plays like this one and Dietrich-Smith made sure it didn’t happen by erasing Fairley.

Play 4: Green runs right for 9 yards

Van Roten is back, this time as part of a full-house backfield. Sitton ties up Fairley. Barclay takes advantage of Cliff Avril heading upfield. The cornerback is lined up 10 yards off the line and the right side is wide open. Van Roten misses his block, otherwise Green probably would have went even further. Green shrugged off Van Roten’s guy and picked up some extra yards, anyway.

Play 5: Ryan Grant runs left for 13 yards

This play got me out of my chair, pumping my fist. Always nice to see a guy like Grant get another chance and reel off a nice gain. It’s even nicer seeing Dietrich-Smith erasing Fairley to open a big hole. This was a great drive for Dietrich-Smith. I can see a new Christmas carol being sung in Green Bay this week: “Baby it’s cold outside. (Baby it’s cold outside). So hand the ball to Ryan Grant. (So hand the ball to Ryan Grant).” Or something like that…

Play 6: Harris runs right for 5 yards

Harris was so excited to see such a big cutback lane that he fell over. Or maybe he’s been watching this Packers’ offensive line run block all season, saw the big push they were getting on this play, thought the world was coming to an end, and dove to take cover. Either way, there was a nice push here and plenty of options for Harris before he biffed it. With the exception of Avril against Tom Crabtree, every Lions defender gets knocked back. Harris ended up with a nice gain despite catching a rabbit.

Play 7: Harris runs right for 14 yards and a touchdown

This time Harris says to hell with the cutback and decides to just burst through an opening and into the end zone. This play was set up perfectly for the Packers. The Lions had three guys on the line spread out wide, leaving only Levy to cover the area between the end and the nose tackle. Dietrich-Smith pulls and absolutely anihalates Levy. Seriously. Rewind it and watch Dietrich-Smith take care of business again. Barclay cuts off the other linebacker and Harris gets to the house in a hurry.

Final Word
That’s a flex-your-muscles type of drive, isn’t it? It made me want to start breaking things!

Notice what we didn’t see much of on that drive? We didn’t see much of the zone blocking the Packers are known for. Instead we saw a lot of straight ahead, win your matchup type of stuff up front. We also saw Evan Dietrich-Smith pulling and taking guys out.

Whether this drive represents a late-season surge in the Packers’ ground game remains to be seen. Regardless, it sure was fun to watch.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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16 Responses to “Packers Drive Rewind: 7 Straight Runs Give Packers the Lead”

  1. JimR_in_DC says:

    Adam, when I try to run the videos, it goes black and displays the message “This video is private.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Adam Czech says:

    This is what happens with me and technology. Trying to fix it…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Adam Czech says:

      Ok. The videos should work now.

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      • Turophile says:

        A run game ? Have we somehow stepped into a parallel universe ? Let me verify. Vikes uniforms still look awful, check – Bears still suck, check – Lions a punk team, check. Hmmm. I guess we are just at the far (very far) end of a big probability curve.

        Just like Shroedinger’s cat, you never know what you’ve got until you open the box…..of course we know it’s a cat, but we don’t know if it will leap out and claw you to bits for the indignity of being put in a box. I guess the kitties found a big, live and angry cat.

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  3. JimR_in_DC says:

    The videos work perfectly, Adam. Thanks. Great post. It really warmed my old-school Packers’ heart to see a drive like this. The Lions must’ve been shell-shocked, wondering who this team was that was running all over them. Go Pack!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. steve cheez says:

    Glad to see that you can still break down plays better than you can write lyrics! Seriously, though, I get a tremendous woody when I see us playing that kind of power football.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  5. Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

    watching the lions defensive line once again shows just how undisciplined they are up front. everyone jumping sideways in the hole. From a pure strength and talent standpoint, everyone on that OL besides sitton is probably overmatched by the lions DL. but gap control and integrity was not there. crabtree did a nice job on grants run. van den bosch is not what he was a few years ago, but that is still a tough block to make.

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  6. aaron says:

    Greatest packer website ever! Keep the videos coming

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. kevin says:

    well done article. i’m actually impressed with our running game now after reading this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. Bob says:

    Great job! In watching each progressive play I felt like an unleashed gorrilla as I did at that point in the real time game. What a lift to see our guys on the O-line taking people to the ground and flat out beating them. Crabtree loves to lock it up and did a super job on a couple plays including the TD run. When it happened, I said to myself, who the hell is Harris? Kudos to the coaches on that one. Have we turned an important corner?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. Kevin says:

    Thanks for the videos. After the Giants game the word and feeling about the Packers was that they are soft. I think a power running game is the quickest way to erase that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. PatMc says:

    Really excellent video and break down.

    On Van Rotten: this is the beauty of MM. Bring the young guys along, coach them up and then give them real playing time to learn and feel the speed of the game. I noticed (Barclay I think) slip. During the game review both will be able to learn much – AND with the feeling of the play so recent be coached up.

    On MR GRANT: I jump out of my chair and pumped my fist as well. This was the first time in a couple of months that I did that. Good to see MR Grant running through the hole.

    EDS: I hope he takes over at Center. He will be a fixture for years. Then TT can draft a good guard like the kid from Wiscons. Imagine a power driving LG in there. I get shivers thinking about it.

    Classic power running will take the cover 2 down. Of course Detroit was spread wide where a 4-3 team (giants) will not be. I hope Van Rotten is a power driver.

    Thanks again for another excellent afternoon re-wind of the Packers game.

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  11. Shavager says:

    Jersey Al, these videos worked fine, what happened to all the Packers videos you had. Tired to watch some of the ’61 Championship vs Giants, the ’66 game vs 49ers–no videos now? Thought the 7 straight runs in this game changed complete complexion of Lions defense against GB, just surprised it didn’t open up Rodgers pass offense more.

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