Green Bay Packers nickel cornerback Keisean Nixon came up with a crucial interception off Patrick Mahomes in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs. After the game, Nixon credited the film he and the defensive backs had watched earlier in the week, which allowed him to know the play before the ball was even snapped.
“I had to,” said Keisean Nixon on coming away with the interception. “It’s been a minute and I’ve been trying to get one this whole year. It should have been my third one, but it’s my first one. We’ll take it; Mahomes.”
With 5:20 left in the fourth quarter, the Packers held a 24-19 lead but the Chiefs were moving the ball and had 1st-and-10 from about midfield. Mahomes was in shotgun with a running back to his right and two receivers split out to the right as well. Before the snap, Nixon saw Mahomes tap his knee, which told him everything he needed to know.
“We were watching mannerisms tape earlier in the week,” said Nixon at his locker. “He tapped his knee and they put two off the ball, and I’m like, oh I’ve seen this before. I knew he was going to run it and he ran it.”
The slot receiver, who Nixon was covering, ran a fade, while the outside receiver ran a curl. However, the purpose of that curl route was also to set a natural pick on Nixon, so he wouldn’t have a clear path to the slot receiver. But Nixon knowing the route and where the ball was going, went over the top of the boundary receiver and put himself in a better position than the slot receiver to make a play on the ball.
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The turnover gave the Packers offense an opportunity to extend their lead and to chew up clock, which they did. Green Bay put together an 11 play, 35 yard drive that resulted in three points, giving the Packers an eight point lead and leaving the Chiefs with only 1:09 on the clock.
Along with the interception, Nixon recorded five total tackles, including a run-stop, and held pass catchers to only 8.0 yards per reception. On special teams, he had two kick return attempts totaling 60 yards. With a critical takeaway, and his contributions elsewhere, Nixon – as well as Jordan Love – were awarded game balls after the victory.
“That was a big deal,” said Nixon on getting the game ball. “That was my first one. It took me five years to get one, but we’ll take the punches.”
Green Bay’s defense entered Sunday’s game with the fourth-fewest takeaways in football. In recent weeks, Matt LaFleur has mentioned on multiple occasions the need for the defense to be better in this area, not only to help themselves by getting off the field but it also gives the offense an added possession as well. The Packers now have four takeaways in the last two games.
Uncharacteristic of an 8-3 team, the Chiefs entered Sunday’s game minus-five in turnover differential, struggling both to take care of the ball and force takeaways. Following Sunday’s win, the Packers are now 4-1 this season when they win the turnover battle.
Overall, it wasn’t a flawless performance by the Green Bay defense by any means, but it’s not going to be against Kansas City either. The Chiefs running backs averaged nearly 6.0 yards per rush and there were a few coverage breakdowns that resulted in several chunk pass plays to Travis Kelce.
However, as they’ve done for much of the season, the Packers kept points off the board, sparked by three red zone sacks in the first half that forced the Chiefs to kick field goals instead of finding the end zone. This was the eighth straight game where the defense gave up 24 or fewer points, their second-longest streak since they did it in nine consecutive games back in 2010.
“On defense, I don’t want to say we played lights out, but he felt us for sure,” added Nixon.
“Teams are going to drive down the field, this is the NFL, they game plan just like we game plan them, but to hold Mahomes to three points two drives in a row before they got to seven, that’s a hell of a deal.”