Extraordinary plays abound on Davante Adams' record-setting night
GREEN BAY – Davante Adams could have been open if he'd kept running. Off the snap, he cut inside Seattle Seahawks safety Tre Flowers. Adams had a 3-yard cushion, an easy pitch and catch.
But easy is ordinary. And Davante Adams is anything but ordinary.
So the Green Bay Packers' top receiver dug his feet into Lambeau Field’s slick, frozen grass. He pivoted on the tundra, stopping with his left foot, pushing back in the opposite direction with his right. This was an Allen Iverson crossover. Poor Tre Flowers didn’t have a chance.
How overmatched was the Seahawks’ young safety?
Adams knew Flowers was beat before he did.
“As soon as he dives in,” Adams explained. “Because now it’s who can get out of it better, and I know that I’m running that route. He doesn’t know that I’m running it.”
Then, holding court in the Packers locker room, Adams flashed some of that can’t-cover-me arrogance.
“Even if he does (know), I work on that route. So I should be able to beat him.”
Adams streaked for the left sideline, Flowers chomping dust. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ pass was a little high, which was fine, even preferred. Adams’ momentum carried so fast toward the sideline, he needed help slowing down.
“It was able to stop me,” Adams said of Rodgers’ high throw. “I think I probably would have gotten pushed out of bounds if I kept going.”
Instead, Adams zagged the other way. His feet on the 18-yard line, Flowers standing between him and the end zone, Adams burst back across the field.
He quickly checked off Flowers, who was no threat to tackle Adams in open space. Instead, Adams noticed deep safety Quandre Diggs’ momentum follow him to the sideline. So Adams used his burst to beat another safety, outrunning Flowers and Diggs to the end zone.
The 40-yard touchdown ranks among the most impressive plays of Adams’ career. It stood as the game-winning score in the Packers’ 28-23 win in the NFC divisional playoffs, a victory that propelled them to the NFC championship game next Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. Even more, it was brilliant, encapsulating everything that makes Adams great.
“He was on one tonight,” Rodgers said. “He was really crisp with his route-running, just one of those special nights. He made a number of very heady plays.”
It wasn’t just Adams’ eight catches for 160 yards, the most any Packers receiver has gained in a playoff game, or even the pair of touchdowns. Adams tilted the field Sunday night, the way great players do. With apologies to Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill, Adams submitted his claim as the best receiver still standing in these playoffs, an advantage the Packers surely plan to maximize for as long as their season lasts.
He did it in style. An unquenchable swagger. He did it averaging exactly 20 yards per catch, his night filled with one big play after another. This was full beast mode, a receiver who knew the Seahawks' secondary couldn’t cover him, then proved it.
“He just had that look in his eye,” teammate Geronimo Allison said. “Just all week, kind of just was talking to us like he had it. He had a feel for it. Like, he was kind of anticipating this huge game that he had. He’ll tell you, he thinks he’s psychic. He thinks he’s psychic. Sometimes he has visions and sometimes those visions come to sight.
“I guarantee a lot of this stuff that took place today he was kind of envisioning it, and went out there and was able to execute it. That’s why he had a huge game tonight. He was prepared.”
That the Packers were able to use their best receiver creatively only opened things up more. Adams’ night started with a 20-yard touchdown on the Packers' opening drive, a play design he described as “genius.”
On third-and-7, Adams and Allison converged a couple yards past the line of scrimmage. They sold a pick route, which would have had the two receivers crossing paths, trying to force Flowers and safety Ugo Amadi to bump into each other. But Adams and Allison never crossed paths, instead disbanding into opposite directions and causing the two Seahawks defensive backs to bust coverage. Flowers followed Allison inside, leaving Adams wide open.
Adams said the play is a relatively new addition to the Packers' offense.
“It’s a copycat league,” he said. “We see certain things on film. It may not even be against the Seahawks. We’ll see a team that plays similar defense and steal things and implement it into what we do. It’s definitely something we try to scheme up.
“It makes me feel good knowing that the coaches are that locked in and that detailed to where they know my skill set. They know I can run routes like that.”
Adams can run any route, anytime. It’s what elevates him to another level. Game on the line, a defense must be prepared to cover everything.
So there was no secret where Rodgers would look on the initial third-and-8 on the Packers’ game-sealing drive. Adams, lined up in the slot, had the whole field to his disposal. Adams released upfield, taking a hard step inside Amadi, his shoulders and knees following. Then he burst up the seam, fading slightly toward the sideline.
Rodgers pinpointed a pass, maybe the best throw he made all night. Adams caught it over his shoulder like Willie Mays in center field, bringing the Packers to the edge of competing for a chance to reach the Super Bowl.
Sure, there are easier ways to get 8 yards. But easy is ordinary.
“That was cooler,” Adams said. “So that’s what we go with. We go with what’s cooler, and if we can make the play, we’ll always pick that one.”