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Ten men no problem as Packers’ special team scores

By Bob McGinn, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel –

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Blocked punt returned for a touchdown, 10 men on the field.

Want to create a new entry for the National Football League record book? The Green Bay Packers are ready to etch their name for a mark that might never be tied.

The Packers had 10 men on the field and still blocked a punt by the Jacksonville Jaguars for a touchdown Sunday, providing the catalyst in their 24-15 victory at Lambeau Field.

Replays showed the Packers had just six men in their front instead of the customary seven when cornerback Davon House moved from his jammer position to block rookie Bryan Anger’s punt. Linebacker Dezman Moses recovered the ball in the end zone.

Because the Packers, under coach Mike McCarthy, don’t permit assistant coaches to be interviewed after games, special-teams coach Shawn Slocum won’t be available until Monday for comment.

It appeared, however, that rookie receiver Jarrett Boykin was the missing party. Boykin lined up outside of Moses on the right side for the punts immediately before and after the block.

“It was a game-changer, huh?” defensive end Ryan Pickett said. “When we needed a big play from special teams, they stepped up.”

House lined up wide left across from wide receiver Kevin Elliott. On the right side, Casey Hayward and Jarrett Bush were set to double-team the Jaguars’ other gunner.

With 12 seconds left on the play clock, Hayward began moving down to the box before he peeled off to the middle in case Anger attempted a pass to Elliott. House began creeping at :09, paused and resumed at :07.

Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey indicated that Elliott should have moved with House into the box, and that the punt should have been snapped sooner by Jeremy Cain.

“I think Bryan felt like he had time,” Mularkey said. “It was slow. It shouldn’t be. You can snap it before they can come in from outside.”

House rushed from wide on the left side, where the Packers had at least a man advantage. Jamari Lattimore, who was lined up just inside of House, was blocked by running back Keith Toston, the wingback to that side who was re-signed Tuesday and was playing on just three days of practice.

When Toston, who was removed on the next punt, blocked down, House was unblocked.

“Once I took a few steps I saw that nobody was blocking me,” House said. “I was surprised that the punter was still trying to punt it because no one touched me. By then, I just had to keep my hands out and try to make a play.”

It took .85 seconds for Cain’s snap to reach Anger. It took another 1.10 seconds for him to kick it. The 1.95 seconds is considered adequate get-off speed.

“Anger is a three-step guy, which takes obviously a little more time,” Moses said. “Young punter. Very talented, though.”

In a nod to special-teams coaches Slocum and Chad Morton, Moses said, “Lot of research, lot of detail work went into that.”

It had been 22 years since the Packers last blocked a punt for a touchdown. In December 2003, safety George “Tiger” Greene did that in Minnesota.

“Really?” House said. “I think I was 1 years old then.”

You have to go back nine years for the last punt blocked by Green Bay. Linebacker Marcus Wilkins got that in September 2003 at Chicago.

Jacksonville hadn’t had a punt blocked since Kansas City’s Bernard Pollard did it in December 2006.

“When you bring a guy in what you’re hoping for is somebody makes a mistake,” Packers punter Tim Masthay said. “All of a sudden they’ve got to readjust for this guy coming in. It screws up their count.”

Barring an all-out rush involving nine or 10 men, Masthay said teams generally keep their gunner stationary when the jammer in front closes down to the box.

“Because you still feel like you have enough blockers to deal with it,” Masthay said. “The blocked punt for a touchdown is rare. But there have been something like 15, 16 (blocks) already in the league this year. I’m not sure why that is.”

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