In an ending that featured several clutch moments, the play was easy to forget. Nobody, it seemed, was talking about the punt return that made everything possible Sunday.
Yet, the Green Bay Packers likely don't complete their comeback win against the Miami Dolphins without the special teams delivering before the final, game-winning drive. Before T.J. Lang's fumble recovery, Jordy Nelson's fourth-down catch, Aaron Rodgers' fake spike and Andrew Quarless' game-winning touchdown, there was Micah Hyde's 17-yard sprint up the left side.
"That was one of the big, big plays in the game," McCarthy said.
With Green Bay attempting to block Miami's final punt late in the fourth quarter, Hyde received the football near the left sideline at the 23-yard line. He brought it to the Packers' 40, giving the offense a short field before marching down for the game-winning score with three seconds left.
With no timeouts – and needing a touchdown – the difference between starting the two-minute drive 60 yards from the end zone instead of 77 could have been the gap between winning and losing.
"Game's on the line," Packers special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said. "That play is as important as T.J.'s fumble recovery, as Andrew's catch, as Aaron's throws, as the protection that series. I mean, the whole thing."
The Packers set up for a blocked punt on the play, trying to spark momentum. With the Dolphins forced to commit extra time blocking, Slocum said it helped give Hyde room on the return.
Miami punter Brandon Fields didn't contact the football cleanly. His punt only traveled 40 yards. Slocum was impressed with Hyde's reaction, gathering the punt and turning upfield to create something positive out of the play.
"Most punts have a tendency to roll," Slocum said. "He caught it on the 23-yard line, and that could've started us backed up inside the 20, at least. For him to get the ball to the 40, I thought, was really a big play, especially with not having any timeouts left.
"I was looking at starting field position, let's give the ball to the offense, if we don't block it."
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