Game Changing Play of the Week: Jaire Alexander Strips Noah Fant to Set Up a Score

Jaire Alexander's clutch takeaway in the third quarter killed any momentum the Broncos had and ultimately helped put the Packers' lead out of reach.

Another week, another outstanding defensive showing by the Packers. With multiple playmakers at every level of the defense, this is beginning to look like the best unit the Packers have put together since at least 2009 and 2010, and the ceiling for this unit is quite high.

Last week’s game-changing play of the week was a crucial takeaway to seal a victory. This week’s game-changing play of the week is a crucial takeaway that helped extend the Packers’ lead and put the game out of reach for a Broncos team that was unable to get anything going through the air.

Let’s take a look.

The play

Jaire Alexander drew quite a bit of praise in his rookie season, but this season he is turning into a bona fide star and an All Pro candidate. It’s been a long time since the Packers had a player of his caliber at the corner position—since Charles Woodson’s prime with the team.

A lot of the game-changing plays we choose are a result of great playcalling, great scheme or great team efforts. Alexander’s strip of Broncos rookie tight end Noah Fant, however, is an example of a player just going above and beyond with an incredible individual effort to make a play at a crucial time.

The Broncos were down by just a touchdown and had the first possession coming out of the second half. It would be fair to say they had the momentum at this point in the game, especially considering the Packers’ offensive inability to complete an extended drive.

The Broncos actually got a great look out of this play in a third-and two situation. They caught the Packers playing zone, with Kenny Clark of all people dropping back into coverage. Alexander lets the wide receiver run deep behind him and remains in his shallow zone, but there’s plenty of space for Fant to catch the ball and move the chains. Great play call and great execution by the Broncos in a third and short.

But then what happens next… what else can you say, really, other than it was a remarkable effort by Alexander to come in, deliver the hit, force the ball out and collect it? That takes a lot of presence of mind, not to mention athletic skill. And then he was immediately up and running, staying behind a group of blockers who got out in front of him. While he was ultimately ruled down at the spot of the fumble, that didn’t make the play and Alexander’s instincts in the situation any less impressive.

 

It’s just one more example of how there seems to be a greatly improved level of confidence and swagger in this defense over the last bunch of years. Guys like Alexander add a lot to a team not just in ability, but in personality. It really looks like Brian Gutekunst has assembled a unit of players that aren’t just talented—they’re hungry, and love playing the game. You can see it in every group celebration the unit has after a turnover.

This is shaping up to be a really fun year of Packer football.

 

__________________________

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.

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Comments (28)

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CoachJV's picture

September 23, 2019 at 04:42 pm

Watching this Defense play is FUN!!!

The guys are having fun, and it's freaking contagious. Hell, I love Defensive football and I haven't seen a squad have this much fun in a long time!
And they don't quit. Even when they're on the field for extended periods, and the O goes 3 and Out, these guys are still positive, happy, and ripping fucking heads off!

This squad has the potential to be the best D since I've been watching Packer football... and that's since the dudes in my profile pic were playing...

If we keep going, this D could eventually be the best in Packer history...

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Hawg Hanner's picture

September 24, 2019 at 03:36 pm

Noah Fant was the stud tight end everyone wanted!

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CoachJV's picture

September 24, 2019 at 05:47 pm

Yup... and considering our 1st Rd guy got his first INT, meanwhile last years 1st pick strips Fant of the ball...

In Gute We Trust!

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Turophile's picture

September 23, 2019 at 04:56 pm

I posted elsewhere that on this play Alexander was like a wizard who magicked the ball out of Fant's hands and into his. Sleight of hand like that should qualify him for membership into the Magic Circle.

Add to that Preston Smith's 3 tackles for a loss and three sacks, Savage's interception, the Gary sack, Scott's average 53yd punting, Za'Darius's 2 sacks and TFLs and 3 QB hits.

Despite having some trouble with inside runs, the Defense held the Broncos, and made the splash plays that made the difference.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 23, 2019 at 10:30 pm

Channeling Woodson with the rip and steal. Great Awareness.

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J_brooks's picture

September 23, 2019 at 05:33 pm

Any chance this was a miscommunication in the coverage by the Pack?

Two seconds before this clip was played that there was a lot of gesturing in the secondary - in fact you can see Jaire motioning with his hands as this clip starts. Looking at the D alignment we have 4v2 on the left side of the field and 2v3 on the right with a Blake in the middle and Clark dropping into coverage. There is no rotation in coverage so the left side just looks very overbalanced to me. Jaire essentially has to cover two guys yet still makes a killer play making the result even more incredible.

Am I missing anything on this or did anyone else see a similar thing as I described?

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flackcatcher's picture

September 23, 2019 at 09:56 pm

No your not. Packers usually run a late shift in their secondary like most modern NFL defenses to cover their coverage. Danger in all that is sometimes someone does not get the message, and a busted coverage happens. It's the main reason Rodgers is so last second, he is trying to force coverage to set before snap. Games within games......

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J_brooks's picture

September 24, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Thanks for the info flack!

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J_brooks's picture

September 24, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Thanks for the info flack!

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4thand1's picture

September 23, 2019 at 05:17 pm

Took forever but we got a great young CB and a great young punter. Now go get a great young TE. Can you say trade Gute?

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 23, 2019 at 10:33 pm

Sternberger was picked in the third round this year.

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DukeDivine's picture

September 24, 2019 at 09:30 am

Don't necessarily need a trade with the youth movement at TE in house but I would be fine with the simple move of never letting Jimmy Graham see the field again! What a liability! Slow on routes and can't block my grandma. Get Big Bob and Mercedes cruising! They are probably kicking themselves for not cutting Graham and saving some on the cap prior to the season, but guess they saw something.....And yeah, sure, before you all pounce on me he caught one jump ball in Chicago...Unfortunately one jump ball, multiple holdings and blown blocks aren't worthy of $5+ mill in my book.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 24, 2019 at 02:26 pm

4thand1,
Trade Gute? Hopefully you do not mean to actually trade Gute. Instead you are asking Gute to make a trade for a TE.

Interesting! Gute has done an incredible job turning the Pack around in such a short order. We all knew with all the holes on the team (pretty much every position) that two drafts were not going to allow him to address all the positions needing help.

I understand why the Pack kept Graham (didn't agree with it) and want him due to the experience. He was a mistake but the good thing is the injuries (not unexpected) hopefully keep him off the field, so Tonyan and Bayliss can play and demonstrate they belong on the field before Graham making him expendable after this season. Let's see how these two young TE's along with Jace develop and improve prior to next year's draft. There is no question they will be drafting a TE in 2020, but the development of these three young TE's will determine how much draft capital the team throws at the position.

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4thand1's picture

September 24, 2019 at 05:10 pm

Wow, ok we let Cook go picked up JG (not working) and don't use Lewis, drafted Jake S hurt and unproven. I wouldn't complain if Gute made a trade for a proven TE.

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EdsLaces's picture

September 23, 2019 at 05:26 pm

We used to have a scrappy cb like this a few years back that liked to take the ball away from the other team , but he wore 21 not 23.

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Hematite's picture

September 24, 2019 at 09:04 am

I'm betting he will be wearing 21 next year.

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EdsLaces's picture

September 23, 2019 at 05:26 pm

We used to have a scrappy cb like this a few years back that liked to take the ball away from the team , but he wore 21 not 23.

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I am Gute's picture

September 23, 2019 at 05:49 pm

Reminisce of Clay Matthews taking it from Adrian Peterson. I guess in both cases you could say we have a legitimate baller.

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atundraman's picture

September 23, 2019 at 05:50 pm

Enough praising, it's time to get down to the SERIOUS stuff.
This D NEEDS a nickname!
I'll suggest the mediocre, and obvious: "The Green Monster".

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CoachJV's picture

September 23, 2019 at 07:28 pm

I don't know what you'd call us... but our D is Criminal... Thieves (secondary), Thugs (LBs), and Bullies (DL)... Hehehe

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PatrickGB's picture

September 24, 2019 at 08:24 am

I remember from many years ago “Gang Green” but then it really wasn’t and then the Jets stole the name from us.
Perhaps “Green Machine” ?

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Lphill's picture

September 23, 2019 at 06:40 pm

I don’t understand the issue stopping the run , that needs fixing fast.

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flackcatcher's picture

September 23, 2019 at 10:11 pm

Nah, it's fine. Being aggressive is a feature, not a bug in Packers defensive scheme. What must happen is not to overrun their assignments in their system. Denver schemed for that in their zone run game. Other side get paid too.

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Packer_Fan's picture

September 23, 2019 at 07:09 pm

I agree. There is a whole different attitude about the defense. And ability. 2016 and 2017 are just bad memories now,

Then, we need to be patient with Rodgers, LaFleur and the offense. Let them work out these issues. This is a long season and we need to have the offense performing well at the end of the season when the defenses tend to wear down.

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CAG123's picture

September 23, 2019 at 10:33 pm

*2017 and 2018

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Handsback's picture

September 23, 2019 at 07:43 pm

When GB won their last SB the defense had a playmaker at each of the levels, in fact CMIII was competing with Woodson for DPOY.

This year they seem to have multiple playmakers at each of the levels. If the offense catches fire...teams won't want to play them.

All said, have to see Rodgers make some plays that we haven't seen in a couple of years.

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NickPerry's picture

September 24, 2019 at 05:04 am

The play by Alexander was unbelievable. I rewind at least 3 or 4 times to make sure it was clean and the refs wouldn't screw the young man out of a GREAT defensive effort. What I really liked was the way the rest of the defense got out in front of Alexander going the other way. Had he not been touched down it would have been 6 for the Packers D!

My hope now is the offense catches up to the defense. Adams isn't even being looked at in the end-zone. MVS is coming along but he still has brain farts and drops the ball. I have NO IDEA what happened to G-Mo and Jimmy Graham is turning into a huge mistake by an otherwise AWESOME job by Gute.

I have no doubt Gute will load up the offense this next draft and hopefully in FA if they can afford it. But I'd still like to see them add someone via trade before the deadline.

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Qoojo's picture

September 24, 2019 at 12:26 pm

The important part of that turnover is that it led to some points, and Denver stopped the heavy dose of running. Also nice is that the much maligned offense was able to capitalize on the turnover with a TD.

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