Game Changing Play of the Week: Kevin King Pick Turns Momentum in Packers' Favor

Kevin King's third-quarter interception helped the Packers reverse the momentum and bring home a division championship.

Your Green Bay Packers are 12-3, NFC North champions, have swept two of three divisional opponents (with the full sweep imminent next weekend) and a chance for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

Savor it.

As has been the case all year with this team, it wasn't always pretty. But style points don't show up on the scoreboard, and this Packers team just keeps finding new ways to win. On Monday Night Football in Minneapolis, their victory took the form of utter domination along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball until the Packers had fully worn down the Vikings and beaten the will to fight right out of them. They overcame three first-half turnovers of their own on the back of a tremendous defensive performance, showed patience with their offensive game plan and rode it to the team's first divisional title since 2016.

It was a key takeaway of their own that allowed the Packers to swing the momentum in their favor, and once they had it they never let go.

The play

Kevin King has made several crucial game-changing plays throughout this season, and when he snagged a deep prayer by the overmatched Kirk Cousins out of the air, it felt like yet another turning point caused by the third-year cornerback.

Here's a look at the play.

Watching it live, it almost looked for a second as though King had dropped it, but he just had it secured in one hand. Given all the fumble issues earlier in the night, it was a little nerve wracking watching King run the ball back with the ball so far away from his body, but he was just one man away from taking it to the house.

This play reeked of desperation on the part of Cousins. There had been nothing open downfield for the Vikings all game long. Even the touchdown pass to Diggs had to be dropped into near-perfect coverage by Jaire Alexander. With frustration mounting for the Viknigs' offense, Cousins likely felt the pressure to make something happen. 

However, it appeared on replay that he may not have noticed King coming back to the middle of the field from his side. Cousins may have thought Diggs had his man beat on the deep post, but simply didn't scan the whole field before throwing. All King needed to do was get into a position to play safety, and he'd be able to come down with the ball. Great awareness on his part to put himself into position to make the play.

The importance of this play can't be overstated. King's runback gave the Packers the ball around midfield, still down a point. They were able to drive down the short field and get Aaron Jones into the endzone, plus score the two-point conversion. The way the defense was playing, any lead would have been safe, but the ability to get a touchdown there was massive for the confidence of the offense and gave the team all of the momentum. The Packers never relented afterward.

With one week to go, the Packers need a win to clinch a first-round bye, and a Seattle win at home over San Francisco to clinch homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Who would have ever thought this team, under a first-year head coach, would be in this position?

Merry Christmas, Packer fans!

__________________________

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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cheesehead1's picture

December 24, 2019 at 04:28 pm

Congratulations, 12-3 is unbelievable. I must admit I thought 8-8 or 9-7 at best and remember “most” fans /experts thinking the same. Take care of business in Detroit and for a change we’ll all be rooting for Seattle. On the injury front, I can’t remember this much good fortune, I think we were long overdue. Funny how it works, as now Seattle has been decimated by injuries. Don’t wish injuries for any team, just the luck of the draw I guess. Go Pack and keep playing great defense!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 25, 2019 at 04:07 am

I looked at most of the articles written just before game one and after/during cutdowns and found the following info in the comments:

11-5: RC Packerfan,
10-6: Aaron Nagler, dblbogey, Nostradanus, mewesley, Since '61, Andresmo93, hobowilly. 10-6 was my prediction though I can't find such a comment.

Playoffs: Johnny Logan, Lare (with caveats),

9-7 or 10-6: Slim11, PackerDoug, Sam1

8-8: Bigguy.

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murf7777's picture

December 25, 2019 at 12:46 pm

And Murf7777 put his money on the line with Vegas at over 9.5 wins and yes the packers make the playoffs. Few extra $$$ for Xmas presents:)

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 25, 2019 at 03:01 pm

Predicted 11-5 record in early Sept. Thought they would lose on the road to K.C. and 49rs but beat Chargers; split with the queens. Outstanding year for La Fleur and Company. Just make plays in all three phases of the Game.

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stockholder's picture

December 24, 2019 at 04:33 pm

He just didn't make the play of the game. He made several clutch tackles. Good things happen when he's in there. King is a keeper!

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Leatherhead's picture

December 24, 2019 at 05:50 pm

A good choice. I would mention Jones on the long TD that made it a two score game. Kind of a back-breaker.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 24, 2019 at 06:21 pm

I bet he's saving Jones turn for the Super Bowl.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

December 24, 2019 at 09:30 pm

I agree the Jones 56 yard TD run was a game breaker.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 24, 2019 at 06:20 pm

Great play by King who had clearly seen it on film and identified the play.

I'm happy for him to have a game like that. He's missed a lot of time hurt and has even been billed a bust but some fans. A performance like that can only come out of a lot of hard work.

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Buckywunder's picture

December 24, 2019 at 08:17 pm

Right, Jeremy.

Someone from a sports program who reviewed the game showed a replay from the first game against MIN on the same play where Diggs scored. This time King broke from his coverage responsibilities to give some help.

Heady play by King!

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 24, 2019 at 08:58 pm

Jaire ran the same coverage, but he missed the Pick vs Diggs in the first go round.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

December 24, 2019 at 09:31 pm

He's viewed as a bust partially due to inability to stay on the field. A lot of it is due to the fact that we could have had TJ Watt who has been phenomenal so far. Zadarius Smoth really lessens the sting of not having Watt for me.

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 25, 2019 at 03:05 pm

Ted had Perry on a Big Contract and Matthews. The Fail with T.J. Watt was not making a free agency attack to try to sign Gilmore from Buffalo. Belichick was on him quickly. Pack was in dire straits with Randall and the basketball player ; he didn't offer to Tramon.

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Cubbygold's picture

December 24, 2019 at 08:06 pm

The holding call to bring back the vikings long TD was pretty game changing as well. Glad it was such a blatant hold so we don't have to hear about how the refs bailed the team out again.

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murf7777's picture

December 24, 2019 at 08:26 pm

In addition if not for the hold Fackrell would’ve sacked him

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Since'61's picture

December 24, 2019 at 09:02 pm

The pick by King may be the defining play of this season for the Packers. Especially if they end up with the #1 seed and a deep playoff run. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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murf7777's picture

December 25, 2019 at 08:43 am

Pivotal play no doubt, defining somewhat, certainly big interceptions on last opposing drives are defining as the one in the first game of the year against Da Bears. It has been nice to see King play mostly injury free

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PatrickGB's picture

December 24, 2019 at 10:16 pm

Woah, hold your horses. We still have to actually play the lions next. Let’s not tally up a win until we actually play them. One game at a time please. This philosophy has worked all year so let’s not abandon it on a short week.

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Hematite's picture

December 25, 2019 at 03:01 am

I agree, slow down.
Going into the Lion's den has never been easy for the Packers.
It doesn't matter how bad the Lions are they seem to play the Packers tough especially in their own building.
I'm not taking anything for granted.
GO PACK GO!!!

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murf7777's picture

December 25, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Who is stating we already beat the Lions? I love the positive nature of the board this week!

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NickPerry's picture

December 25, 2019 at 05:22 am

IF the Packers play defense like that for 60 minutes for every remaining game on their schedule and Marshawn Lynch gives the Seachickens the boost I think he's going to, the Packers are just as good of bet to get to the SB as any other NFC team...Maybe more so.

I KNOW it was Kurt Cousins and they were without Cook, but it was still a hot QB and offense who was at home that was TOTALLY shut down. For years we've heard defense and a running game can travel and go anywhere. IF Seattle can pull out a win EVERY team will have to come to Lambeau. Trust and believe NO ONE wants to play there in January...NO ONE!

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Rak47's picture

December 25, 2019 at 07:51 am

Seattle has already beaten San Fran in the 49er's home stadium, so the return of Marshawn Lynch to CenturyLink field in Seattle should have their 12th man super hyped an loud as an artillery barrage Sunday night. That is going to be one helluva game. Go Pack Go! And Let's go Seahawks!

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The_Justicar's picture

December 25, 2019 at 09:40 pm

Lynch has been out of football for nearly a year and this is a new offense for him. I think it’s doubtful he gets more than a few carries this week. If that.

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 26, 2019 at 01:34 pm

49rs should dominate in this game. Quite a few Seasqwak defenders hurting. Maybe they bring back the fake punt play for the TD that the Pack fell for, hook , line and scrub. You never know with Russell Wilson making the Big Play, but I am not optimistic.

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4thand1's picture

December 25, 2019 at 08:13 am

Kevin King is another player a lot of people questioned and wanted gone in here and other blogs. Just like D Adams a few years ago. I can see the injury issue, but when he's healthy ........he makes plays. I for one liked when they picked him because of his size and could cover. Our secondary is young and is getting better every game. The int was the exact play the queens ran in GB in the 2nd game of the year. Jari A was a little late getting over and the result was a TD for Diggs. Watch the replay and King knew it was coming and was in position to make the big play.

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Spock's picture

December 25, 2019 at 09:33 am

I've watched that play by King several times and it looks to me that the reason he has it in one hand is he (just briefly) gripped it tighter against his helmet for the catch. I loved the interception but that one handed carry on his run back was a bit scary to watch!

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RedRight49's picture

December 25, 2019 at 02:00 pm

Kevin King played a good game capped by that interception!

No matter how many times I watch the play over and over, oh man, it is still a thriller of an interception and a great return.

That pick deflated the Vikings and any momentum they were enjoying.

King and the D had a great game and now bring it on to Detroit next week!

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Packers0808's picture

December 25, 2019 at 02:00 pm

I wonder how many people have been noticeable how high King skied to grab that ball? His leaping ability is amazing!

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