Like viewers across the country, the Green Bay Packers watched in awe last weekend as Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor twice hurdled the Carolina Panthers line while trying to block field goal attempts.
“I loved it, man,” said Datone Jones, a Packers defensive end and special teams player two seasons out of UCLA. “When I saw Kam jump over, I just remember for myself personally, we called the same call when I was playing in the Pac-12 championship and we had a guy (who tried it) and he barely misses it. It’s crazy just to see that play actually work.”
Jones knows something about blocking field goals. He is a part of Green Bay’s field-goal defensive unit. At 6-foot-4, he says he’s had a knack for getting his hand on kicks.
One of the most important came Sunday in Green Bay’s 26-21 divisional playoff win against the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas was ahead, 14-7, late in the second quarter with Dan Bailey lined up to attempt a 50-yard field goal. Jones got a piece of it. And the Packers turned that into a field goal of their own, cutting the deficit to 14-10 at half.
“Since I’ve been playing football I get at least one block every year, I guarantee,” Jones said. “I got one last year, when I was a rookie. I got a few in college. Luck of the draw, eh? It was a momentum swing.”
Green Bay special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum also credited the play as a game-changer — perhaps a swing of six points in a game eventually decided by five. And he’s well aware that special teams play could decide whether the Packers or Seahawks go on to Super Bowl XLIX.
He called Chancellor’s leap “impressive athleticism.” However, this week, Slocum’s role shifts from appreciation to prevention — making sure Chancellor doesn’t get over the blockers of his own field goal team.
“It doesn’t happen often, but you have to be aware of it,” he said. “They did it to us a couple of years ago with Bruce Irvin. If you go back and find the St. Louis play this year where they actually blocked the ball, they actually executed it and it was pretty impressive.”
Sunday will mark the second time linebacker Julius Peppers has faced the Seahawks with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
The first came after the 2005 season, when Peppers was with the Carolina Panthers — who went into CenturyLink Field and lost 34-14.
Almost a decade removed, Peppers’ main memory is of the Seahawks fans.
“It was around the time when the 12th Man thing was getting started,” he said. “It was already there, but the crowd was the main thing that I remember from that game. It was really loud in there. I think the stadium was kind of new at the time. That was our first time going to that stadium with it being so loud in there.”
The Packers tried to simulate Seattle conditions inside their Don Hutson Center practice facility. Temperature was kept at 44 degrees and part of practice was conducted with wet footballs. … Everyone participated, although QB Aaron Rodgers (calf), DT Josh Boyd (ankle) and G Josh Sitton (toe) were limited. “Health is very important, all hands on deck,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s all part of your preparation. The ability to play with the same 53, the same 46 for a couple weeks is a huge benefit. Your practice squad guys are obviously very important this time of year. We are taking all of our practice squad guys to Seattle. This is the time of year you prepare for, you put everything into it and I’m very pleased with where we are as a football team.” … The Packers are scheduled to return to the practice field at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.