On the stunning, game-winning, division-clinching touchdown pass, the Bears sent seven rushers. The Packers had only six protectors.
Aaron Rodgers' 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb won the game, but it was John Kuhn's block that made it happen.
"I wasn't expecting empty pressure," coach Mike McCarthy said. "They went for it. I think John Kuhn did a great job of coming over and just kind of clipping, getting enough on (Julius) Peppers. They had one more than we had and Aaron and Randall just made a phenomenal play. It's two guys making a great, great play that'll be running on the highlights now for the rest of my time on this Earth. What a great finish."
With James Jones, Cobb and Jordy Nelson lined up on the left, Andrew Quarless split out wide to the right and fullback John Kuhn lined up to Rodgers' right on the fourth-and-8 play, the Bears lined up six defenders at the line of scrimmage. A seventh defender, cornerback Isaiah Frey, comes to the line of scrimmage as the play clock hits 6 seconds.
That leaves Green Bay's four receivers against four Bears defensive backs. The Packers' five linemen form a wall against six of Chicago's rushers. That leaves the Bears' best pass rusher, future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers, charging hard from the left side. As Peppers closes in on Rodgers, Kuhn lunges to his left and blocks Peppers at his thighs. Peppers goes down, Rodgers escapes to the right.
Cobb, playing his first game since breaking his leg at Baltimore on Oct. 13, is matched up on safety Chris Conte. Conte lines up at the 40 – where the Packers need to get to for the first down -- does little else but drift to his left a few steps. Cobb runs right past him, catches the ball at the 11 and beats cornerback Zackary Bowman into the end zone.
"On fourth down, in situations like this, it's always good to highlight the unsung heroes on the play, and it was definitely John Kuhn, as usual," Rodgers said. "They brought empty pressure, checked to it late, and I was trying to hit Jordy right away (but) the safety rolled down quickly. As I looked outside, I felt Julius was coming free, was going to try to elude him, which the chances of that are pretty slim. John comes out of nowhere and cuts him. I was able to get the edge and saw Randall running wide open. In peripheral, I looked outside to make sure that we had a big play there. When that ball came down in the end zone, it was just pandemonium."
Due to the noise, the Packers' blockers weren't on the same page, but Kuhn made it work.
"I don't really remember what happened. It was so damned loud," guard T.J. Lang said. "We had a protection call on (and) John Kuhn changed it. I think only half of us got it. We weren't all on the same page but, from what I hear, John made a hell of a block coming across and picking up the free guy. That last play, we just kind of winged it because nobody really knew where we were going. Aaron did a good job getting outside and throwing a touchdown pass."
According to Rodgers, the protection that Kuhn called had left tackle David Bakhtiari blocking Peppers and Kuhn blocking Frei. Instead, Kuhn's quick thinking kept the play – and the season – alive.
"I actually, to be honest, wasn't aware that he was screaming a protection call," Rodgers said, "but he got us in a good protection call there and was coming over to get his responsibility, which was the nickel who was in the strong-side B gap. The left tackle, I don't think he heard the check. He actually squeezed down, which would've been the adjustment for the original protection, and John in his intelligence and great reactions just came across and cut Julius. John Kuhn is a big-time football player."
Kuhn, in his typically understated fashion, downplayed his role on the pivotal play.
"Everybody just slid and got their guy and was able to make a wall for Aaron," Kuhn said. "It's tough with a seven-up blitz. Somebody's got to make a play, and Aaron did just that."
So did Kuhn, and because of that, the Packers' season is alive and well.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.