But his role yesterday became crystal clear on the Packers’ game-winning touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb. The 48-yard TD on 4th and 8 ultimately won the game for the Packers, but it was Kuhn’s block on Julius Peppers that sprang Rodgers loose and gave him the time to throw the bomb. Kuhn got just enough of Peppers to keep him off of Rodgers back – a sack at that point would have been the game and the season.
As it turned out, it was Kuhn’s block that made the difference between a NFC North Division title and a home playoff game.
But Kuhn did more than that.
On that final drive, Kuhn was also called on when the Packers faced a fourth and 1 with fewer than five minutes left in the game. Randall Cobb said that head coach Mike McCarthy was calling for his team to punt, but was talked out of it by the players. Here’s how he described it after the game:
“When we came to the first fourth down and Coach was calling the punt team out, we were like, ‘No, let us get this. This is our time. This is our moment.’”
Kuhn took the quick handoff from Rodgers and slid off the right tackle for two yards and a first down.
Another fourth down play on the drive came when Rodgers couldn’t find an open receiver and ran six yards, diving for another first down.
And then came the third and final fourth down for the Packers – the one where Kuhn made the block, Rodgers made the throw and Cobb caught the bomb.
The rest is history.
“I can’t really recall what the first protection call was,” guard T.J. Lang told the Green Bay Press Gazette, “but John Kuhn was coming up and telling us to change the protection. I think only half the guys ended up getting the call.”
Here’s how Kuhn remembered the play:
“They brought a seven-up blitz, and we made an adjustment, and the line did a good job sealing everybody off leaving one for me, and I just tried to get as much of Peppers as I could.”
Rodgers had the most to say about what transpired on that play:
“And on fourth down, in situations like this, it’s always good to highlight the unsung heroes on the play, and it was definitely John Kuhn, as usual. The guy making the smart play at the right time. They brought empty pressure, checked to it late, and I was trying to hit Jordy right away, the safety rolled down quickly.
“As I looked outside, I felt Julius was coming free, was going to try to elude him, which the chances of that are pretty slim. John comes out of nowhere and cuts him. I was able to get the edge and saw Randall running wide open.
“In peripheral, I looked outside to make sure that we had a big play there from the throw that I missed Andrew Quarless on early in the drive, I knew I had to get a little bit on it just to make sure that I didn’t way underthrow him. When that ball came down in the end zone, it was just pandemonium.”
And without that blue collar, sacrifice-everything-play by Kuhn, the Packers players would be cleaning out their lockers and heading home today.
Instead, they live to play another day – this one coming back to Lambeau Field next Sunday in a Wild Card game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Stay tuned …