Dean Lowry runs, Lambeau Leaps way into spotlight

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Clay Matthews made fun of his speed. Ha Ha Clinton-Dixcritiqued his Lambeau Leap. Meanwhile, Dean Lowry laughed all the way to NFC defensive player of the week honors.

Lowry, who returned a fumble 62 yards for a touchdown and then jumped (barely) into the stands to celebrate in Sunday’s 26-20 overtime over win the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, became the fourth Green Bay Packers player to win a defensive player of the week award in the past five seasons – joining Clinton-Dix, Matthews and Julius Peppers.

Pretty good company for a second-year former fourth-round pick who’s hardly a household name – or at least he wasn’t before his shining moment on Sunday.

“Dean showcased his 5-flat 40 [speed],” Matthews joked.

It was actually 4.87, Lowry reminded.

Either way, his vertical could use a little work. Lowry didn’t exactly fly into stands for his Lambeau Leap.

“He didn't waste any time,” Clinton-Dix said. “He had his mind made up before he even got into the end zone. He took his jump. He's got some ups – a little bit."

On the most notable day of Lowry’s young career, he finished with four tackles (all solo stops), a sack, a QB hit and, of course, the first touchdown of his career.

It was part of a rejuvenating effort from a defensive front that saw the return of Kenny Clark and Matthews from injuries. It was Clark whose strip-sack of Jameis Winston turned into Lowry’s touchdown. It’s the kind of combination play the Packers had been hoping for ever since they picked Clark in the first round (No. 27 overall) and Lowry at No. 137 in the 2016 draft.

Clark had two sacks in his return from an ankle injury, while Matthews had 2.5 sacks after missing a game because of a groin injury.

Lowry has been solid this season with two sacks (matching his total from 15 games in his rookie season), seven quarterback hits and six tackles for loss.

The defensive linemen in Dom Capers’ 3-4 system often are charged with doing the dirty work, eating up blockers so the linebackers can make the big plays. So for Lowry to get his moment in the spotlight was, as he said, “pretty cool.”

“I think just being an opportunistic player, that’s kind of what we pride ourselves on, playing hard, getting after it, and once those chances are there, you’ve got to take advantage of it,” Lowry said. “And I think that’s what we did most of the game, and that’s a good example of my play, too.”