GREEN BAY – The headlines for the Packers’ two biggest defensive plays against the Vikings went to Kenny Clark and Kevin King.
But don’t discount the impact Dean Lowry had on both of them.
Late in the first quarter, Clark strip-sacked Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins and Lowry made the recovery, but he wasn’t just Johnny-on-the-spot to get the ball. Running a stunt on the interior with Clark, Lowry actually took out two Vikings linemen as Clark looped around him for the hit on Cousins.
Then in the fourth quarter, Lowry carried out an assignment he was responsible for all game – staying with Cousins on the play-action bootleg. As he chased Cousins and kept the space between them to a minimum, the Vikings QB threw up the ill-advised pass that King picked off in the end zone to in effect seal the victory.
Not bad work for the fourth-year defensive lineman who’s steadily becoming a larger and larger factor in Mike Pettine’s defense with each passing week, no matter how quietly he goes about it.
“Dean, he doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does, but he’s a huge part to this defense,” Clark said. “He’s making plays, even though people don’t see it.”
Lowry’s fine if the accolades don’t come his way because his efforts are noticed by those who matter. The Packers signed Lowry, a fourth-round pick out of Northwestern in 2016, to a contract extension this past summer. Through the first two weeks of 2019 he has resumed the high-level play with which he ended last season, proving the Packers were right to keep him in the fold.
Officially he has seven tackles to his credit (one for loss), plus the fumble recovery and a deflected pass while playing more than 40 snaps each game. Unofficially last week he also pressured Cousins a handful of times.
His defensive mates laud his football IQ, and how he’s gotten seemingly a step quicker every year in the NFL, a result of both improved strength and speed as well as anticipation that comes with experience.