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.
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.
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?