Despite Fake Mistake, Special Teams Key Again

Davon House's blocked punt recovered for a touchdown was just one of the highlights by the kicking units in Green Bay's 24-15 victory. Special teams have been the "lead dog" all season for the Packers.

The Green Bay Packers' special teams are no longer batting a 1.000, but Shawn Slocum's units continue to be a consistent difference-maker.

Helped to victories with a touchdown on a fake field goal against Chicago in Week 2, a fake punt that led to a touchdown against New Orleans in Week 4 and an onside kick that set up a field goal against St. Louis in Week 7, the Packers failed miserably on a third-quarter fake field goal but got a touchdown on a second-quarter blocked punt.

Davon House's block and Dezman Moses' recovery in the end zone turned out to be a critical play in the Packers' 24-15 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

"Special teams has been the lead dog all year," coach Mike McCarthy said.

Green Bay's offense was miserable for much of the game. Struggling without Jordy Nelson (hamstring) and Greg Jennings (groin) and with no running game to speak of for the second consecutive week, the Packers needed a lift. They got it with the first block at any level by House, the first block by the Packers since Marcus Wilkins at Chicago in 2003 and the first touchdown on a block since Tiger Greene at Minnesota in 1990.

House lined up across from the gunner on the left side of the defensive formation and moved into the box before the snap. In a perfect world, House would have timed his movement with the snap and gone after rookie punter Bryan Anger on a dead sprint before the Jaguars could adjust. Instead, House got to Jacksonville's protection and had to wait, giving the Jaguars time to shift their blocking. The Jaguars noticed. They just didn't do anything.


"They pointed me out," House said. "I don't know what they did wrong because they pointed me out, so I'm thinking ‘There's no way I'm getting in here, but I'm going to still go and try to block it.' And I took a few steps and I noticed that no one touched me. So, I'm like, ‘Man, I'm about to block it.' And then I dove and put my hands out and blocked it."

A mad scramble ensued, with Moses finally pouncing in the end zone to give the Packers a 14-3 lead.

"As soon as I blocked it, I was thinking about scooping up the ball so I could get a touchdown," House said. "I wanted to keep the ball. So, I look and look and I see (teammate Jamari) Lattimore's cleats and then he missed and I was like, ‘Oh.' Then I see that there were men in front of me, so I peel off on the kicker a little bit and slow him down. And then someone else missed it (the ball) and I tried to jump on it and then Moses jumped and someone else jumped and I just jumped on top of both of them. I was just happy we got the ball and we scored."

The special teams made one more impact play – one that probably went under the radar. With Green Bay clinging to a 14-12 lead, the defense forced the third of three consecutive three-and-outs. Punting from his 25, Anger got heat up the middle from Lattimore, which forced a 27-yard punt. Set up at the 48, Rodgers completed 5-of-6 passes on a 52-yard touchdown drive capped by a 4-yard toss to Donald Driver that gave them some breathing room at 21-12.

Plus, the Packers' starting field position on five kickoff returns was the 28-yard line compared to the 19 on five returns by Jacksonville.

It wasn't a perfect day for the special teams, though. Along with the failed fake field goal, kicker Mason Crosby missed a 32-yard field goal late in the third quarter.

Earlier in the third quarter, on fourth-and-6, Crosby trotted onto the field to attempt a 55-yard field goal. Crosby lined up for the kick, but the unit shifted into a spread formation with Masthay as shotgun quarterback. Masthay rolled to his left, didn't see Ryan Taylor break immediately open about 8 yards downfield. Finally, he fired an ill-advised pass deep to the right to tight end D.J. Williams. The Packers were lucky Masthay threw such a bad ball and it fluttered harmlessly to the ground.

"By the time I threw it, I knew we were pretty much dead in the water," Masthay said. "It came down to poor pre-snap awareness by me. I got out there and I was expecting Jacksonville to be in man coverage. They weren't, they were in Cover-2, but we didn't have a bunch of time on the play clock. So, I was just sending guys in motion and watching the play clock. I didn't notice that they were in Cover-2 before the snap. Once I realized it after the ball had been snapped and I rolled out a little bit, I didn't have time to turn and hit the open man because I had a guy right in my face. I just short-armed it down to the right. It probably would've been a successful play if I would've recognized the defense earlier, but I didn't."

Having missed his last three from 50-plus yards and with the offense's struggles, the fake really wasn't much of a gamble. Had Crosby missed, the Jaguars would have taken over at the 45. Had Masthay punted the ball into the end zone, they would have taken the ball at the 20. Instead, they got the ball at the 37, moved the ball 6 yards and punted.

"We've been aggressive with our special teams and this one didn't work," McCarthy said.


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