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GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers referenced Cal-Stanford, of course.

All the Packers, including Rodgers, were certainly glad the play didn’t make the historical archives like the famous 1982 lateral-filled college kickoff return did.

But boy, was it close.

“It looked like they had something,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “I ain’t gonna lie to you, it looked like they had something.”

Chicago definitely did. On the final play of the Packers’ 21-13 triumph on Sunday, the Bears eschewed a Hail Mary from the Green Bay 34-yard line and decided to complete a short pass and try to lateral their way to the end zone instead.

It very well could have worked, partly because the Packers were expecting the Hail Mary, so the change-up caught them off-guard.

Running back Tarik Cohen grabbed Mitch Trubisky’s pass around the 30-yard line, ran another 10 yards, and pitched the ball back to Trubisky. He dropped it, scooped it up off the frozen Lambeau Field turf, avoided Kyler Fackrell to stay alive for a few yards, and lateraled to tight end Jesper Horsted around the 15.

As Horsted started angling to his right toward the pylon, suddenly the Bears did indeed have “something,” like Williams said. Receivers Anthony Miller and Allen Robinson were both to Horsted’s right, and they might have had the Packers outflanked.

“I think we’ve all seen clips of the play in the ‘Big Game’,” Rodgers said, drawing on his alma mater Cal’s immortal finish to beat rival Stanford 37 years ago, one year before the Packers QB was born. “Just finish the play.”

It was almost too late for the defense to do so. Had Horsted lateraled the ball to Robinson around the 10, with Miller in front of him to block, Robinson might have scored. But Horsted took a step or two too many, and by the time he tried to pitch it, he was being dragged down by Chandon Sullivan, and the lateral was low and forward, caroming off someone’s leg toward the end zone.

At that point, only Horsted, by rule, could have recovered the ball for the play to be legal. Williams recovered it for the Packers inside the 5, and the sighs of relief were exhaled.

“That last play, that was scary,” defensive lineman Kenny Clark said.

Robinson could be seen begging for the ball and was clearly upset when it didn’t come to him sooner. Horsted, an undrafted rookie from Princeton, is going to kick himself when he sees the film. Chicago was eliminated from playoff contention Sunday.

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GREEN BAY – The Packers’ coordinators spoke to the media on Thursday. Here are highlights from their news conferences:

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett

On Washington’s defense:

During this time, you have the whole season. You want to pick and choose the ones you think resemble what we do, but you look at every situation. Every guy has a responsibility and you want to dive into it as much as possible. Whatever we can do to try to get a beat.

Do you review game first or cutups?

Always games. That’s one of the things I learned from my dad back in the day. You try to develop the plan as the game flow goes. Sometimes when you jump into the cutups, it doesn’t tell the whole situation of why they did something.

On offensive identity:

When you have to hang your hat on something, what do you want to do? What do guys believe in? To be able to do as much as possible effectively is always helpful. Late in the year, sometimes you don’t know who you’re going to have. You always have to be able to adjust. An identity is the foundation concepts you have and you have to do them in different ways. For us, we have a couple guys who can do a lot of different things. Whatever it takes.

On 50/50 balls:

Anytime you try to call a legitimate shot down the field, I’ve always looked at it as a 40 percent completion percentage. When you have a guy like Aaron Rodgers that can go up with his vision and ability to throw the ball downfield. That can make you want to do it more, especially when you can check it down to Aaron Jones.

On touchdown efficiency in the red zone:

We like to call it the ‘gold zone.’ We’ve been able to run the ball. If you focus on the pass, that hurts you or the run. The other thing is how many people have scored down there. The more people who score in the red zone, they have to cover every ounce of it.

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine

On Adrian Peterson:

He’s one of the rare ones in the left who can defy his age. We have one here with Tramon Williams. Those guys are rare, especially at running back, to see him with his longevity is nothing short of amazing.

On seeing improvement from the run game:

It starts with the communication being on the same page, I think that’s important. Having an understanding if we have a stunt on, making sure guys know how that affects them. We’ve preached it and we’ve had some games where we’ve defended the run well and then we get hit with a big one. We’re continuing to grow with it and have a much better understanding of what we’re doing in the run game. This week will be one of our bigger mentalities defending the run. I’ve known Bill Callahan for a long time. He wants to run the football. It’ll certainly be a challenge for us given what they’ve put on tape the last few weeks.

On Washington’s run-heavy offense:

They play with a sixth offensive lineman more than anybody we’ve played this year. It’s like over 60 plays and that’s not including the goal line. If they put offensive linemen out there, we’re going to want to match big with big.

On bend-but-don’t-break defense:

You want to be dominant. But if that’s off the table, you want to make sure where you’re going to be good, it’s going to be keeping teams out of the end zone. That’s one area we have done a good job. You don’t like it too when you have No. 12 on the other side of the ball … you want him back out there. We have to get off the field. When we have opportunities to do it, we have to take advantage of it.

On Rashan Gary:

He’s graded out well when he’s been in there. He’s had some good rushes and gotten some pressures. Like Kyler Fackrell, he’s a victim of two other guys in that room playing extremely well and getting production. He’s on a progression, he’s on a path that we feel he’s made improvement from Day 1 and we’re certainly confident that’s going to continue. … He has the ability to play (inside or outside). That’s what I see in his ability, a guy who can rush outside early or bump inside.

Special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga

On new KR/PR Tyler Ervin:

Extremely quick. He has really good short area quickness. Good feet and can make guys miss. He’s a veteran guy who has some experience back there. He has a good, calm demeanor.

On Ervin’s NFL experience:

I think your best experience is in game situations. The more you’ve done it, the more comfort for you are with it. Having game experience always adds to what you can do with your comfort level. … He has a lot of experience running what we run. He understands that and we talked to him about that. He’s been in the meetings. He’ll be ready to go. When you come in as a returner, you show them where it’s designed to go and they have a good feel for that.

On Mason Crosby:

I have the utmost faith in him. I think he’s been awesome for this organization and great for me. He’s really helpful with JK Scott and Hunter Bradley. Just being in the locker room, he’s a great leader. I can’t say enough about him.

On JK Scott’s performance in New York:

I thought he performed well. He hit the ball well. We had two inside the 20. I thought he punted well and keep building on that. The weather doesn’t really affect him. We’re just fine-tuning a few things. We’re trying to get him ready as best we can.

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Crosby made three field goals and missed his lone extra-point attempt in Monday’s victory over the Vikings.

Crosby missed his first kick of any kind since Week 3, but he also tied his single-game high on the season for field goals, which came from distances of 19, 33, and 42 yards. Crosby’s final matchup of the regular season will come against the Lions, who allowed opposing kickers to make 10-of-11 field-goal attempts and all 14 extra-point attempts they put in the air over the last five weeks.

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As the saying goes, you want to play your best football in December.

Did the Green Bay Packers do that? Did they begin to play their best football on the first day of December?

In snowy New Jersey, it would take more than three full quarters before the Packers would wrest full control over the New York Giants.

The glass-half-full point of view is that the Packers took care of business, beating a hapless Giants team starting a rookie quarterback by a score of 31-13.

The Packers’ bend-but-don’t-break defense rediscovered its thieving ways, setting up the Packers’ offense with three additional possessions via interceptions. The Packers would turn those into 10 points and cruise to victory.

The less-optimistic version goes like this: for a bulk of the game, the offense found itself stuck in too many unfavorable third-and-longs. They disappeared for stretches after a hot start. A few beneficial calls – some obvious, others more gratuitous – helped move the chains for a stagnant offense, too. Absent some terrible throws by rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, this game may have been too close for comfort considering the perceived talent disparities between the Packers and Giants.

Perhaps the pessimism is attributable to last week’s undressing. The Packers have the type of record that says they’re one of the NFC’s top teams, but, at least lately, they’re not showing that with enough consistency.

Is this just the first step towards forging the team’s playoff identity? We’ll see.

Onto the takeaways.
Secondary takes advantage of rookie quarterback

One of the early hallmarks of the Packers’ defense this season was its ability to force turnovers. In the first three weeks, the Packers created seven turnovers, which contributed to their hot start.

The Packers went back to playing that opportunistic brand of football, and it began when Kevin King intercepted Daniel Jones early in the second quarter.

The Packers would then intercept Jones in back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter. The first came by way of an overthrow. Jones targeted Sterling Shepard downfield on the right hash, but the ball sailed on him. Savage played the overthrow and came away with the pick. On the ensuing drive, Jones tried to hit Darius Slayton on the left sideline with Tramon Williams in one-on-one coverage. Williams’ stacked Slayton and played the ball as if he were the intended receiver.

It wasn’t the cleanest game from the Packers’ secondary, but the turnovers are great equalizers in football. The Packers did what they needed to do.
Aggressive Aaron Rodgers is the best Aaron Rodgers

Once again, Aaron Rodgers threw a touchdown pass on a “free” play. This time, it was the too-late attempted substitution that got the Giants with a too-men-on-the-field penalty. Though it’s a bit gimmicky, No. 12 operates like IBM’s Watson at quarterback. No detail goes unnoticed, and the Giants’ sloppiness gave the Packers a big score.

We’ve seen the games where the Packers aren’t getting free plays at the snap or free first downs because of the NFL’s whimsical approach to pass interference, illegal contact, and defensive holding. For as nice as it is to get those calls, it’s not something the Packers should rely too much upon. It’s a nice jolt for the offense, but it can’t be the offense.

Today, Rodgers completed 64 percent of his passes (21-of-33) for 243 yards and four touchdown passes. It was a fine effort. It’s hard not to notice, however, his “free” play touchdown to Davante Adams.

With a Giants defenseman scurrying to get off the field, Rodgers gets the snap in a hurry and sees the yellow flag. From there, he rockets a ball into tight coverage in the middle of the end zone.

When he wants to be – or rather when he’s forced to be – Rodgers can be a deadly downfield thrower, fitting the football into tight windows and registering multiple explosive plays on a single drive. The offense seems to stagnate when Rodgers plays too conservatively; he’ll take “shot” plays on play-action, and he’ll throw it downfield in man-to-man coverage along the sideline. But he generally waits for receivers to break open, which exposes him to the pass rush and removes the rhythm of the play’s initial concept.

Rodgers hates to throw interceptions, but he’s going to have to trust his receivers to make plays in tight coverage. He has the arm. Tipped balls might happen. Interceptions might happen. But to beat the 49ers of the world, this team is going to have to grow a little more comfortable taking some chances.
Packers struggle running the football

Save for a few tough runs by Jamaal Williams in the second half, the Packers couldn’t do much of anything against the Giants today. Some of that was to be expected. Entering today’s game, the Giants had only been giving up 3.9 yards per attempt, which is the sixth-best mark in the NFL.

Williams finished the game as the team’s leading rusher, carrying the ball 10 times for 41 yards. Aaron Jones could muster just 18 yards on 11 carries. Rodgers added 24 yards on three scrambles.

Kudos to Matt LaFleur and the Packers for not completely abandoning the run game; much of the offense is predicated upon the team’s ability to at least look like they’re going to run the ball. Still, the Packers will need to find some more consistency in the closing weeks of the season. The weather isn’t getting any better.
Interceptions aside, defense struggles

Like pi, Za’Darius Smith is a mathematical constant. Regardless of the opponent, he brings energy, motor, and, more importantly, production. Today, he hit quarterback Daniel Jones five different times. There’s a little more ebb and flow with his still-productive counterpart, Preston Smith; however, the Packers can almost guarantee a strong performance from No. 55.

The same can’t be said for the rest of the defense, though. Giants rookie tight end, sixth-round pick Kaden Smith, led the team in receiving, catching six passes for 70 yards. The Packers’ struggles with tight ends again reflect the year-long trend where this defense cannot, for a few reasons, cover the middle of the field. Their middle-of-the-field zone coverage struggles to attach itself to receivers entering or crossing into zones, so opposing quarterbacks have easy completions with too much frequency.

A couple key players struggled today, too. Blake Martinez collected tackles (10 today, which led the team), but it’s more about what he doesn’t do that contributes to the team’s struggles. On a fourth and short, Preston Smith contacts the ball carrier short of the marker, but can’t make the tackle. The Giants convert because the Packers, specifically Martinez, don’t fill. He’s also one of the reasons for the porous middle-zone pass coverage, as he doesn’t close throwing lanes well.

Kevin King is another player who struggled. He did get redemption with an interception, but teams are clearly targeting King in coverage and leaving Jaire Alexander more or less alone. King was beaten by Sterling Shepard on a double move for an 18-yard touchdown. Against shiftier receivers, King gives too much cushion; he’s most susceptible on comeback routes.
JK Scott rebounds

JK Scott had been really struggling the past month or so, but he finally put together a good game.

Scott punted the ball three times, averaging 46.7 yards. His longest punt went for 47 yards.

His first punt was fair caught at the Giants’ 11-yard line. His second punt was caught at the 9-yard line and returned to the 21. His last was his best. Punting from just inside his own 50-yard-line, Scott’s last punt of the game would hit the turf and stay out of the end zone. The Packers downed the punt at the 6-yard line.

Early in the season, Scott had been a useful weapon to flip the field when the offense wasn’t playing particularly well. While he didn’t have any field-flipping opportunities, he did keep the Giants playing deep into their own territory.

If Scott is going to break out of his slump, December is a great time to do it.
Related
Good, bad, and ugly from the Packers’ victory over the Giants
Instant analysis of Packers’ 31-13 win over Giants in Week 13

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Redmond suffered a hamstring injury Monday against the Vikings and is questionable to return.

Redmond primarily plays on special teams, as he only has played in about 30 percent of the defensive snaps this season. Still, should Redmond not return the Packers will have to rely on Ibraheim Campbell as the only reserve safety remaining on the roster.

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Your Green Bay Packers are 12-3, NFC North champions, have swept two of three divisional opponents (with the full sweep imminent next weekend) and a chance for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

Savor it.

As has been the case all year with this team, it wasn’t always pretty. But style points don’t show up on the scoreboard, and this Packers team just keeps finding new ways to win. On Monday Night Football in Minneapolis, their victory took the form of utter domination along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball until the Packers had fully worn down the Vikings and beaten the will to fight right out of them. They overcame three first-half turnovers of their own on the back of a tremendous defensive performance, showed patience with their offensive game plan and rode it to the team’s first divisional title since 2016.

It was a key takeaway of their own that allowed the Packers to swing the momentum in their favor, and once they had it they never let go.
The play

Kevin King has made several crucial game-changing plays throughout this season, and when he snagged a deep prayer by the overmatched Kirk Cousins out of the air, it felt like yet another turning point caused by the third-year cornerback.

Here’s a look at the play.

Watching it live, it almost looked for a second as though King had dropped it, but he just had it secured in one hand. Given all the fumble issues earlier in the night, it was a little nerve wracking watching King run the ball back with the ball so far away from his body, but he was just one man away from taking it to the house.

This play reeked of desperation on the part of Cousins. There had been nothing open downfield for the Vikings all game long. Even the touchdown pass to Diggs had to be dropped into near-perfect coverage by Jaire Alexander. With frustration mounting for the Viknigs’ offense, Cousins likely felt the pressure to make something happen.

However, it appeared on replay that he may not have noticed King coming back to the middle of the field from his side. Cousins may have thought Diggs had his man beat on the deep post, but simply didn’t scan the whole field before throwing. All King needed to do was get into a position to play safety, and he’d be able to come down with the ball. Great awareness on his part to put himself into position to make the play.

The importance of this play can’t be overstated. King’s runback gave the Packers the ball around midfield, still down a point. They were able to drive down the short field and get Aaron Jones into the endzone, plus score the two-point conversion. The way the defense was playing, any lead would have been safe, but the ability to get a touchdown there was massive for the confidence of the offense and gave the team all of the momentum. The Packers never relented afterward.

With one week to go, the Packers need a win to clinch a first-round bye, and a Seattle win at home over San Francisco to clinch homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Who would have ever thought this team, under a first-year head coach, would be in this position?

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GREEN BAY – Packers cornerback Josh Jackson had just come off the practice field on Friday when his brother called with the news no child ever wants to hear.

Their father, Paul, had passed away at 77 after a series of illnesses. While the news was somewhat expected – he recently suffered two strokes and had fallen ill with pneumonia – it still hit Jackson hard regardless.

Jackson considered flying home to Texas to be with his family, but with his father’s funeral scheduled for this Thursday, he chose to play Sunday against Washington. That turned out to be key for Green Bay’s secondary, with both Kevin King (shoulder) and Tony Brown (heel) ruled out after being listed as questionable.

In their stead, Jackson wound up playing 26 defensive snaps in the dime sub-package.

“Once I found out, it definitely broke my heart,” said Jackson on Monday. “It was definitely really tough because we were really close. We talked every day on the phone. He was a big part of my life. Just to lose him was definitely something that was pretty sad. I know he’ll be with me, watching over me. Just trying to play for him and stay strong for him. I know that’s what he wants me to do.”

Paul was diagnosed with cancer when Jackson was in college at Iowa, which he successfully beat. Despite what he was facing, Paul told his son to keep his focus on football.

On the field, Jackson’s patience has been tested this season. After starting 10 games as a rookie, Jackson has played mostly special teams this year after a foot injury landed him on the non-football injury list at the start of training camp.

Given an opportunity to play Sunday, Jackson held his own in the secondary. He was hoping Dwayne Haskins would throw one his way, but the Washington quarterback targeted his coverage only once (a 1-yard pass to Chris Thompson).

Jackson said he read the Bible before the game and said a long prayer before taking the field Sunday. He played in memory of his father, who played a role in getting Jackson started with football in fourth grade. Jackson said his dad was involved with all his sports, helping him work out and setting up drills.

“He’d always tell me – don’t worry about me. Just make sure you’re finishing your season strong and focus on that,” Jackson said. “I know he was strong. I know he wanted me to play. So I just tried to go out there and give it my best.”

Speaking with reporters Monday, Head Coach Matt LaFleur praised Jackson’s performance, adding the former second-round pick has “been coming along well” in a deep secondary and has had a positive impact on special teams.

Jackson will fly home to Texas on Wednesday for the funeral before returning to the team in preparation for Sunday’s game against Chicago. As emotional as Sunday was, Jackson said he tried to stay positive and focus “on the good things in life.”

“It was pretty emotional. I just tried to hold it all in,” Jackson said. “I was really just trying to be thankful for every play I was out there, every snap that I got. More just of gratitude. There’s a lot to be thankful for. That’s kind of how I felt.”

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GREEN BAY – Two are making noise with all the headlines, and the other two are very quietly doing what the Packers hoped they would, too.

Back in March, when General Manager Brian Gutekunst signed four unrestricted free agents practically before the opening bell quieted down, it was natural for Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith to turn heads.

They play the glamor position of outside linebacker, they get after quarterbacks, and they rack up sacks, to the tune of 21½ combined through 14 games.

The less-heralded free agents, guard Billy Turner and safety Adrian Amos, weren’t likely to compete for that kind of attention. But that’s perfectly fine.

In discussing these “other” two with position coaches and teammates, it’s fair to say they actually have more in common than their dissimilar positions and disparate personalities would suggest. Namely, they’re cerebral players whose brains bring as much to the table as their fellow free agents’ stats.

“His football IQ, in my mind playing next to him, that’s the biggest thing that stands out people may not see,” center Corey Linsley said of Turner.

Added cornerback Tramon Williams about Amos: “He’s very smart, and he’s always in the right place. He’s a person you can count on at the end of the day, you know what I’m saying?”

Intelligence and reliability. That’s precisely what the Packers have in Turner and Amos, and they couldn’t be happier about it.

Turner quickly stood out upon arriving in Green Bay for everything from his unusual haircut to his off-beat interests to a peculiar sense of humor. With everything in measured tones, he fit in as the new veteran on the Packers’ offensive line rather easily.

Starting every game at right guard this season, he’s been steady with a couple of standout performances against premier defensive tackles – Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox and Chicago’s Akiem Hicks in the rematch with the Bears this past week.

“He does a good job for us as a tone-setter,” offensive line coach Adam Stenavich said. “He’s a guy you can lean on to go against big matchups.”

It’s his mind that supplements those physical, athletic traits, though. With Green Bay already Turner’s third team in a six-year career, upon arrival in the spring he was accustomed to absorbing a new playbook in the normal course of an offseason.

Linsley, tackles Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari, and guard Lane Taylor, on the other hand, had only known one offensive system their entire NFL lives. It didn’t take long for Turner’s smarts to get noticed.

“When we got here,” Stenavich said of the Packers’ new coaching staff, “Billy had been in, I think, four different offenses in four years, or something like that, and I had bounced around as a coach.

“You come here and these guys had only done one thing for so long. With me installing new things, Billy was picking it up, like ‘OK, that’s what this is. And this is that.’ For the other guys it was harder. They hadn’t had that newness.”

Communication with his linemates has been smooth from the get-go, too.

“He’s easy to talk to. We’re on the same page a lot,” Linsley said. “There’s very few times when we’re not, but it’s very easy to fix stuff with him. If we’re coming off (the field) and had a little issue … ‘I thought you were going to do this,’ … OK, we’ll just fix it, like that.

“I could tell (early on) he was a very calm football player, very intelligent, had a feel for the defense and everything.”

Communication with a calming presence is Amos’ forte as well. The former Bears safety’s responsibilities are more wide-ranging in that respect due to his position, and he stepped into that role right away as a new veteran starter in coordinator Mike Pettine’s defense.

Defensive backs coach Jason Simmons, who played some safety himself during a 10-year NFL career, said it’s obvious his teammates respect Amos for his experience and knowledge. That’s important when directing traffic for a rookie safety starting alongside him and for a cornerback group that has only one player, Williams, with more than three full seasons in the pros.

“Whenever you play safety in this league, the No. 1 thing we talk about before we talk about physicality or anything else, you have to be a good communicator,” Simmons said. “We are the coverage quarterbacks. We are the guy that everybody looks to. Anybody moves, everybody now looks to the safeties to know what they’re calling, to confirm any check or to change any check.”

Amos is very soft-spoken and understated, not the rah-rah type. But there’s no mistaking his tone when he’s making a call for his teammates to follow. He communicates with confidence and conviction, and it has helped the defensive backs look much more in sync in recent weeks passing routes off to one another in certain coverages.

“His call command is one of the best things that he does for this defense,” Simmons said. “Guys know when he says it, there’s no hesitancy, there’s no apprehension, or not sure, no uncertainty. The whole thing with him is he says it, and if it’s wrong, play what I call, and that’s OK. Play what I call and we’ll get through the next down and get it coached up on the sideline.”

Put another way, “He’s seen a lot of football at this point,” Williams said. “He brings a state of stability.”

He also ranks second on the team with 81 tackles, tied for second with two interceptions, and fourth with eight passes defensed. Amos even has a sack, just the third in his five-year career.

Billy Turner’s 14 starts are a career high for a single season and he’s not done yet. He’s also played every snap this year but two, when he exited for a kneel-down sequence.

But that turns the conversation back to stats, and that’s not what these “other” two free agents are about. The Smiths bring more than the numbers as well, but if it’s harder to see what makes Turner and Amos so valuable, that’s OK.

The Packers got exactly what they were looking for with them, too.

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MINNEAPOLIS (WLUK) — In the middle of answering a question about Za’Darius Smith, Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari stopped to scan the TV cameras in the media scrum.

“Who’s a big-time camera? Who’s got big-time news?”

Finally landing on a winner, Bakhtiari made his message to those who decide the All-Pro teams loud and clear: “You’re an idiot if you don’t vote for him for All-Pro. He is a stud.”

Bakhtiari let it be known last week that leaving Smith off the Pro Bowl roster was a mistake, calling him the best player on the Packers.

After his Pro Bowl snub, Za’Darius Smith posted a career-high for sacks in a game with 3.5 against the Vikings Monday night and helped Green Bay seal its first division title since 2016.

After the win, Bakhtiari recalled the first time he practiced with Za’Darius and went against him in a one on one drill.

“I remember when he first came in, without pads on he was kind of doing some stuff and I was like okay, we’ll see. No one really knew about him and his name still isn’t even really that well-known, but the first time we got pads on I kind of hemmed them up a little bit and I was like, alright back to my old ways,” recalled Bakhtiari. “Then the next day, he was in front of me one moment and the next moment he wasn’t. I was like, that man is too big to flash like that.

“I didn’t want to admit it then, but now that I see what he’s been doing every week I’m like ‘eh, makes me feel pretty good.’I feel better about how I go up against him in practice, I mean the guy is an animal.”

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“You like that! You. Like. That!”

Those words yelled by then-Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins following a dramatic win in 2015 have followed the QB his entire career.

And when the quarterback — who signed with the Minnesota Vikings on a fully guaranteed deal in 2018 — has faltered in big moments, including Monday night in a dreadful offensive showing, he has seen those words thrown right back in his face.

But Monday night’s example might be the most painful.

Media members captured Preston Smith, a defensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers who played with Cousins on the Redskins from 2015-2017, mocking his former teammate by repeatedly shouting “You like that!” on the way to a triumphant Packers locker room.

Perhaps worst of all for Cousins, he has no rebuttal for Monday night’s performance.

Minnesota managed a paltry 139 yards and just seven first downs in a 23-10 loss that saw the rival Packers clinch the NFC North title. Cousins went 16-for-31 for 122 yards with a touchdown and an interception in another big-game letdown that will overshadow what has otherwise been probably his best season as a pro.

But facts are facts: The QB is now 0-9 on “Monday Night Football,” the worst mark as a starter by anyone in the 50 seasons of MNF, per ESPN.

Smith has a point: Packers fans do in fact like what they saw Monday night.

As for Cousins, he’ll always have that Sunday afternoon in 2015.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jace Evans on Twitter @JaceTEvans.

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