It’s common to see Top 10 Lists at this time of year. My blog is usually devoted to my theological musings, but those who know me also know that I bleed green and gold. After the Packers thrilling last-minute victory over the Bears on Sunday for the NFC North division title, I thought it would be fun to recap the plays that I’ve enjoyed the most as a fan of the Packers and to hear from others what plays they would include on the list. I may have forgotten to mention some, so the list may have to change if someone reminds me of one of them.
Just a brief note: my list won’t include plays prior to 1979 since I’m not old enough to remember those games. If I were to include plays from before I was old enough to remember (or before I was born), Bart Starr’s quarterback sneak in the Ice Bowl would definitely be near the top of the list. So here are my ten favorite plays in order.
#1 – Desmond Howard’s Kickoff Return Clinches Super Bowl 31
I had longed to see the Packers win a Super Bowl in my lifetime and after 30 years of missing the big game, Green Bay was finally back in the Super Bowl and they were heavy favorites. Early on it seemed like it would be a blowout and the Packers held a large halftime lead (27-14). After the Packers failed to convert on fourth down, the Patriots quickly seized momentum and scored a touchdown making it 27-21 and making me extremely nervous. And then this happened:
This play pretty much sealed the deal and I knew I was going to see Green Bay win a Super Bowl. Reggie White’s second and third sacks of Drew Bledsoe in this game were almost as sweet as Howard’s play.
#2 – “The Freezer” Avenges Humiliation from “The Fridge” in the NFC Championship Game
Anytime the Packers beat the Bears, it’s very sweet. When it happens in the NFC Championship game with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line and momentum shifting to the Bears, could it get any sweeter? When your 330+ pound defensive lineman scores a touchdown to seal it, getting sweet revenge for the humiliating touchdowns scored by the “Fridge” back in the 80s, it’s about as sweet as football can get. The end zone dance even added a bit of “Sweetness” to it.
#3 – Rodgers Breaks the Bears’ Hearts after They Broke His Collarbone
Here’s the play that got me thinking about making this list. Maybe it will move a little further down the list as time goes on, but the fact that Rodgers did this against the Bears to win the NFC North in his first game back after the Bears broke his collarbone makes this one very special. On 4th and 8 with the game, division, and season on the line, Rodgers got his sweet revenge in dramatic fashion with a 48 yard touchdown to Randall Cobb (also playing in his first game back after missing numerous games to injury). If Rodgers had not been injured earlier in the year, Green Bay probably would have wrapped up the division weeks earlier, but it’s hard to imagine it being more fun than this.
#4 – Brett Favre to Antonio Freeman Beats the Vikings with the “Monday Night Miracle”
This is one of the few plays that I missed live. My excuse: I had class early in the morning and this one was going very late (and shamefully, I didn’t expect the Packers to beat the favored Vikings and I didn’t feel like hearing about it the next day since I was going to college in Minnesota). This amazing catch in overtime beat the Vikings and it was a bit of sweet revenge for the various “fluke” plays that helped the Vikings beat the Packers in the 90s (T.J. Rubley, McMahon to Gulliford, etc.). “He did what?”
#5 – “After Further Review” the Packers Beat the Bears
You may be sensing a trend here with all these Packers/Bears games. This victory was especially rewarding for those of us who grew up in the 80s when the Bears dominated the Packers and the two teams were extremely bitter rivals. Let’s face it, Ditka’s Bears and Gregg’s Packers were not the classiest teams around and the games often turned very ugly. But it was almost always uglier for the Packers who usually lost. On this memorable day, the Packers came from behind to stun the Bears on touchdown pass from Don Majkowski to Sterling Sharpe on a 4th and goal from the 14. The drama intensified over a few minutes as officials reviewed the play, which was originally (and incorrectly) ruled as an illegal forward pass since the official said that Majkowski had passed the line of scrimmage before throwing the ball. After further review, the call was overturned, sending the Lambeau faithful into a frenzied celebration that I’ll never forget.
#6 – Brett Favre to Sterling Sharpe Beats Detroit in the Playoffs
When this play occurred, it was easily a top five moment, and it would have been nice to move it up one so that I would include victories over the Bears, Vikings, and Lions in the top five. But let’s face it, beating the Lions is…well, not necessarily all that spectacular, but it’s still fun. With time running down, Brett Favre unloaded a bomb to Sterling Sharpe to defeat the Lions in the playoffs, earning Favre his first playoff win and Green Bay’s first in a non-strike year in over 25 years.
#7 – Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings in Super Bowl 45
There were many highlights in this Super Bowl. Nick Collins’ pick six gave Green Bay a 14-0 lead moments after Rodgers TD pass to Jordy Nelson put them up 7-0. Rodgers completed two touchdowns to Greg Jennings in Super Bowl 45. On the second one, Jennings was wide open in the corner of the end zone. On the first, Rodgers threaded the needle to take a 21-3 lead shortly before halftime. It’s hard to imagine a pass thrown more perfectly than this one, but Rodgers outshined himself with this clutch pass on 3rd and 10. Momentum had completely shifted to the Steelers and Green Bay needed a time-killing drive and points to secure the victory. This amazing pass sparked that drive, which could have been even better if Rodgers’ final pass was about a foot shorter (Jordy would have had another touchdown and sealed the win). Oh, and did I mention that Green Bay won this Super Bowl in Dallas?
#8 – Dallas Finally Visits the Frozen Tundra
After four straight seasons of visiting Dallas in the regular season (1993-1996) and three straight postseason losses in Dallas (1993-1995), the Cowboys were finally scheduled to play in Green Bay on November 23, 1997. While the NFL will claim that all those regular season games in Dallas was just how it happened to work out with the scheduling, many Packers fans feel there was always some sort of conspiracy to give Dallas the upper hand. After all, this was the first trip the Cowboys made to Green Bay for a cold weather game since the 1967 Ice Bowl. While Dallas clearly had a better team in ’93 and ’94, things may have turned out very differently if they had traveled to Green Bay in ’95. Whatever, the case, the Packers and their fans finally got their shot at revenge and we loved every minute of it. A 10-10 tie at half was blown wide open in the second half thanks in part to a record-breaking day by Dorsey Levens and some big defensive stops. Maybe this 45-17 throttling is why Troy Aikman hates the Packers so much. I couldn’t find a video for this one (please let me know if you find one), so I’m posting a link to the epic comeback victory for Green Bay against Dallas a few weeks ago, which almost made this list and will be moved to honorable mention if I can find a video for this game.
#9 – Brett Favre’s Incredible Game vs. the Raiders Following Father’s Death
Even though things ended on a rough note between Favre and the Packers, fans must admit that despite his many mistakes, Brett Favre was crucial in bringing the Packers franchise back into NFL prominence. His storybook career featured too many incredible highlights to narrow down to one. At times, he was so fun to watch, and he made so many incredible plays, far outweighing some of his monumental mistakes. But no one could have anticipated the game he played shortly after his father’s death. Yes, his receivers, backs, and line get a lot of the credit for this one, but it’s still hard to watch this without getting choked up a bit.
#10 – Al Harris Ruins Matt Hasselbeck’s Prediction
In an exciting playoff game featuring Mike Holmgren returning to Lambeau with the Seahawks, the two teams battled into overtime. At the coin toss, Matt Hasselbeck made the bold statement that they wanted the ball and they were going to score. Well, after trading possessions, the Seahawks got the ball and the former Green Bay backup did throw a game winning touchdown pass—to the Packers’ Al Harris. One of the best parts of this play was watching Holmgren double over on the sidelines when Harris made the pick. Mike, we thank you for the Super Bowl, but we gotta root against you when you bring another team to Lambeau.
The Most Important Play in Packers’ History
My tongue is somewhat planted in my cheek when I call this the most important play in Packers history because I never want a guy to get hurt. Early in the 1992 season, Green Bay QB Don Majkowski was hit by a Bengals player and injured his ankle. In came backup quarterback Brett Favre for a memorable comeback. Majkowski would never start again for Green Bay while Favre would start every game for 16 seasons, breaking nearly every passing record before moving on. It’s no surprise that Green Bay has been one of the best teams in the NFL since that play. I couldn’t find a video of the injury, so here’s a clip of the end of the game as Favre drove the Pack 90 yards in less than a minute with no timeouts.
Cardinals Shock the Vikings, Giving the Packers the NFC North Crown and Fans the Greatest Radio Call Ever
I know, this play wasn’t even in a Packers game. But Green Bay had just crushed the Broncos 31-3 in Lambeau and the stands were still packed as the fans awaited the outcome of the Vikings game against the lowly Cardinals. A Cardinals victory would give the Packers an improbable division title. Green Bay started the season at 3-4 while the Vikes opened the season at 6-0, and they held a seemingly insurmountable lead in the division. They also held a seemingly insurmountable lead against the Cardinals in this game. The Cardinals offense was woeful, so there was little hope that they could overcome an 11 point deficit in the final minutes. After a touchdown and missed two-point conversion that cut the Vikings’ lead to 5, the Cardinals recovered the onside kick and quickly moved down inside the 10-yard line. Two straight sacks by the Vikings put the Cardinals at 4th and goal from the 27. Then this happened (please enjoy the call by Vikings’ radio announcer Paul Allen—he was fantastic).
Tramon’s Pick Six Devastates the Falcons and Launches Super Bowl Run
Aaron Rodgers played one of the greatest games ever played by a quarterback in this game, but it was Tramon Williams’ pick six to end the half that blew this game wide open. For me, this play launched the Packers’ Super Bowl 45 run. At this moment, I thought Green Bay was the best team in the playoffs because they were going to beat the #1 seed in the NFC. Guess what. They were the best team and went on to win the Super Bowl.
Desmond Howard’s Punt Returns Spark Playoff Victory Over 49ers
This game held special significance for me. Not only was it Green Bay’s first playoff win in their Super Bowl run, and a win over the 49ers, but more importantly, it was the first game after my wedding so it was a perfect wedding gift from the Pack. Apart from two fluke special teams miscues, Green Bay completely dominated the 49ers and it all started with a little magic from Desmond Howard who almost duplicated his TD return a little later. Unfortunately, I can’t find a video clip of this one either, so if you find one, let me know and I’ll put it here.
Donald Driver Driven to Beat the 49ers
This is probably the least important play to make the list, but how can you not love the effort of one of the classiest guys to ever play the game? Donald Driver makes an incredible play to help defeat the 49ers in a regular season match-up. Donald, thanks for the memories. You have always been a class act, and Packer Nation loves you.
So what do you think? Feel free to send me some suggestions and we can all enjoy the highlights together. Thanks for reading and viewing.