Game Changing Play of the Week: Titans Fail to Challenge Big Aaron Jones Run in Critical Moment

After this play, the Packers never turned back.

Sunday, we saw the Green Bay Packers assert themselves as a bona fide championship contender.

It was a statement game, one many fans have spent the season waiting for. While there have been many of us who have seen the championship potential in this team all year long, there are many others who, understandably, wanted the Packers to prove it on a big stage against a quality opponent.

The Titans are themselves a legitimate contender, featuring one of the league's most explosive offenses and a running back seemingly concocted in a laboratory for January football. While they've had a suspect defense much of the year, it hasn't mattered too much as they've scored all over most teams they've played.

Not only did the Packers' offense play outstanding football, but the Packers' defense played its finest game of the season, considering the opposition, holding what had been the league's #1 scoring offense to just 14 points, and halting Derrick Henry's streak of nine consecutive games with more than 100 yards on the ground.

There were several plays early in the game that felt as though they could have had game-changing potential. The awful decision by the Titans to punt on their first drive. The Darnell Savage interception. The refs' blunder of an offsides call on what would have been a blocked field goal.

But ultimately, I'm going with the big Aaron Jones run on the Packers' first possession of the second half, and the Titans' failure to challenge the play.

The play

 

The second half began with the Titans getting a second consecutive touchdown, cutting the Packers' lead to 19-14. Packers Twitter was beginning to get nervous, especially considering the Packers' propensity for second half offensive lulls.

However, the offense was not going to go to sleep on this day.

On this play, the Packers lined up out of the gun with both Dafney and Jones in the background, and sent Tavon Austin left to right on orbital motion. Rodgers hands the ball to Jones, who does a fantastic job of bouncing back to the outside when he sees the middle is clogged up.

It's going to be a big play and a first down regardless, thanks in part to some nice downfield blocking by Allen Lazard (who's quietly become one of the league's finest blocking receivers). But then there's the failure on the part of the refs to notice the fact that Jones clearly stepped out of bounds on the play, before sprinting the rest of the way to the endzone.

I noticed it live. 

I thought for certain the Titans would quickly challenge the play, but because it happened on the Packers' sideline, they didn't have an immediate view of it. The Packers running up to the line of scrimmage to get off a quick snap wasn't a clue enough for Mike Vrabel to throw the red flag, apparently. 

Now, if the play gets called back, there's still a good chance the Packers drive down the field anyway. But there's a big difference between having the ball 10 yards out from the endzone and having the ball still in your own territory. The Packers scored just a couple plays later, another touchdown to Davante Adams, and began mounting a second-half rebound that turned the game into a blowout. 

Credit to Jones for continuing to run all the way through the play and never giving the refs a reason to think he stepped out, and credit to Rodgers and the offense getting down the field fast enough to get the snap off.

 

I've said it multiple times this season, and last night reaffirmed this belief: this is the first time since 2014 where I've truly felt like the Packers have a team with a strong chance at winning a championship.

Anything can happen once January arrives, but this is the best team in the NFC, and the NFC's best chance to take down a team like Kansas City in the Super Bowl.

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

8 points

Comments (22)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Lphill's picture

December 28, 2020 at 04:12 pm

If you look in slow motion from the sideline view and where his foot print is clearly in bounds in the snow he may not have stepped out and or there might not have been enough to overturn a challenge. The line was also exaggerated from the snow which made the line look wider, I believe he was in bounds.

4 points
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canadapacker's picture

December 28, 2020 at 04:23 pm

I totally agree - you would need a microscope to see that maybe the side of his shoe was close to the line. That is why the linesman standing right there could not see it - If I was a betting man - I would bet that if he stood over the shoe print he couldnt tell if the bottom of his shoe was OB. It looked to me that the part of his shoe next to his baby toe was on the line - but I think that it might not have been enough to have it overturned. I liked the call on the fumble by Hurts - the defender hit the ball and it slide down his body towards the ground and was it loose before his knees hit or not - I mean come on man - lets not manage this game with a magnifying glass after the fact. If we wanted to do that put a micro chip in the ball and then nobody would ever get a spot wrong. This aint tennis.

4 points
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egbertsouse's picture

December 28, 2020 at 04:39 pm

Seriously? A little homerism is expected on fan sites but let’s try not to deny reality. Hasn’t there been enough of that in the last couple months.

-3 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

December 28, 2020 at 07:02 pm

Clearly out of bounds.

-2 points
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Tundraboy's picture

December 28, 2020 at 05:01 pm

I do as well. Could see his cleat mark inbounds, Maybe the outside of his shoe broke a "plane", but that's a maybe.

3 points
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TheVOR's picture

December 28, 2020 at 04:20 pm

Failed to challenge or not, the Packers were crushing them like a pop can! Green Bay dominated, there's no story here. The way the Packers were playing, they would have eaten more clock in eventually scoring anyway.

That was GB's nearly perfect game of the year, they ATE THEM for dinner and were still hungry! Hope that carries into Chicago, I want to see GB eliminate Chicago, and do it in dominating fashion. Our hope our defense consumes Trubisky like a mid-afternoon snack! Hope they kick their freekin @**es convincingly. I still love seeing GB beat Chicago like a rented mule!

12 points
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Alberta_Packer's picture

December 28, 2020 at 04:27 pm

We may have to give the Packers replay crew an assist. Apparently they were in no rush to show the play on the big screen - for all to see.

2 points
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TheBigCheeze's picture

December 28, 2020 at 04:49 pm

"But then there's the failure on the part of the refs to notice the fact that Jones clearly stepped out of bounds on the play, before sprinting the rest of the way to the endzone."-------he didn't make it to the end zone.......

1 points
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ejr450's picture

December 28, 2020 at 05:09 pm

True. And it was actually better he didn't get there. They'd have reviewed a scoring play, so by him not scoring, it gave the offense the chance for the quick snap.

4 points
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Curt's picture

December 28, 2020 at 04:50 pm

Cleary he was out of bounds (easier to see on slow motion replay since clearly was about 1/2 inch out.

Although the blocked FG offside call was correct - looked like 66 helmet was in the neutral zone -- ref called wrong number (46 I think).

The reaction of "expert" -- we aren't down the line exactly, but .... was a stupid comment. If don't have view down the line, then say so -- don't go on with any other comment!

3 points
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blacke00's picture

December 29, 2020 at 07:40 am

Absolutely agree! What a dumb ass comment. If you are not exactly "on the line", how the hell can you ever make an accurate call? Only refs in the correct position should be making most of the obvious calls.

0 points
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NickPerry's picture

December 28, 2020 at 06:45 pm

In bounds or out of bounds it wouldn't have mattered last night. Now I admit, I can be a bit of a homer but that game last night was the best most complete game I've seen them play in years. Considering the quality of the opponent, you may have to go back to 2014 to see a more complete game by the offense and defense.

This game reminded me of the 2010 week 16 game vs the NY Giants. They had just lost to New England with Flynn at QB with Rodgers coming back after another concussion. He TORE the Giants up that afternoon and the Packers didn't lose again for 19 straight games IIRC.

5 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 29, 2020 at 12:55 am

This might be your best and most complete comment ever. It has facts, history, a strong Point Of View with nice adjectives yet tinged with humility.

jk but thumbs up.

2 points
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NickPerry's picture

December 29, 2020 at 02:30 am

Thank you...I think? LOL... Happy New Years TGR!

0 points
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PhantomII's picture

December 28, 2020 at 07:47 pm

The biggest Titans blunder was not double teaming D. Adams who was a big chunk of our offense. But.....I'm very okay with it. Bring on the Bears.

2 points
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PewAuKeeFan's picture

December 28, 2020 at 08:48 pm

I have a big suspicion the lines that we see on TV are not the actual lines on the field. We do know that the TV broadcasting adds the numbers and lines across the field... maybe that includes the boundary lines too.

If that is the case, maybe Jones did not step out of bounds. If Vrable had challenged, he may have lost.... remember, the TV replay that the refs see do not contain the artificial lines added by the broadcast.

1 points
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keywave's picture

December 28, 2020 at 09:15 pm

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-2 points
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keywave's picture

December 28, 2020 at 09:17 pm

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-1 points
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Ferrari-Driver's picture

December 28, 2020 at 10:50 pm

Two thoughts: One about the game and the other about free agents.
1. Jones "may" have stepped on the out of bounds line, but I feel if it had been challenged by the Titans, the play would have stood as called.
2. DT Harrison was released by Seattle and it's no secret he wanted to play for a contender with a chance to get a Super Bowl ring. There is a good chance he is hoping to NOW sign with the Green Bay Packers, thinking they are the hottest ticket in town. Personally, if that is the case, I hope we DO NOT give Harrison the chance...he doesn't deserve to wear the Green and Gold.

8 points
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NickPerry's picture

December 29, 2020 at 02:39 am

I'm with you F-D... For one Seattles Defense is actually pretty bad so it if they've released Snacks then he must have been playing really poorly for the Seachickens.

1 points
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Houndog's picture

December 29, 2020 at 08:12 am

Fish wrap, that's all it is.
Write and say everything and anything you want about that play, but it didn't matter. The way the Packers' were playing they likely would have scored anyway.
By that time, other than Tannehill faking the "D" out of their jocks on his TD run, the Packers were already dominating this game. Like so many others here, I saw a somewhat 'statement' game, and the best by the Defense I've seen in a very long time, and it's about time! My hat's off to Pettine.
Now, if someone could just explain to management that there's no salary cap on assistant coaches, it's OK to hire a real ST Coach and pay accordingly. Really, it can be done.

1 points
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TheKanataThrilla's picture

December 29, 2020 at 10:56 am

The review may have shown Jones to have stepped out of bounds, but Vrabel was on the opposite sideline and there was a ref really close to the play. I understand that Aaron Rodgers rushing up to the line could suggest that Jones may have stepped out, but perhaps Vrabel figured that a ref in pretty good position got the call right and didn't want to risk his challenge and timeout.

1 points
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