But they could not stop him.
Nelson’s 45-yard, catch-and-run touchdown just before halftime was a key play in the Green Bay Packers’ 26-21 victory over the Patriots on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
“Obviously, very important, especially when New England is coming back in the second half with the ball,” Nelson said. “Go down there and get points. At that point in the game, you’re not thinking we’ll hit a slant for a touchdown. I don’t want to (say) ‘steal’ some points there, but we kind of did. It put us in a situation to win the game.”
Before the third-and-2 play from the Patriots’ 45 with 23 seconds left in the first half, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers surveyed the Patriots defense and called timeout.
“Like most times, you have two calls,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He definitely saw something on the pre-snap prior to the timeout.”
Back at the line of scrimmage, Nelson was lined up to the right against All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. Nelson ran a slant, caught the ball at the 35 and picked up a block from Randall Cobb on Revis at about the 25. Nelson then won a race to the end zone, stretching the ball to the pylon just before being taken out of bounds by safety Devin McCourty.
“When you get that opportunity, you have to create separation and beat one or two guys,” said Nelson, who has scored in seven of the past nine games and has five touchdowns of 45-plus yards this season. “Aaron and I were able to connect on a slant route. I knew the time was running out and I wanted to get in so bad because I knew if I didn’t we most likely would have to settle for a field goal again, just based off time situation. It was a big play but that was just one of many we had out there across the board.”
Nelson managed only two receptions for 53 yards — the other catch came two plays before the touchdown. Nelson, who entered the game with at least five catches in seven of the first 11 games and five 100-yard games, had one of his quieter games of the season. Only once had he been held to fewer catches (one, vs. Minnesota on Oct. 2) and fewer yards (25, vs. New Orleans on Oct. 26) than he did on Sunday. But while 6-foot-3 cornerback Brandon Browner and, later, Revis held Nelson in check, Davante Adams (six catches, 121 yards) and Cobb (seven catches, 85 yards) carried the load.
“He’s a great player,” Nelson said of Revis. “You want to have these opportunities to go out and compete. We had our battles all night and he made some plays. I was able to make that play there. it was a great battle. It was a good time.”email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.