The clock was winding down Sunday in the fourth quarter at New Meadowlands Stadium as the Green Bay Packers' defense ferociously protected the slimmest of leads. One bad step or unfortunate bounce could have erased a 6-0 advantage.
Cornerback Charles Woodson ended one drive with an interception and linebacker Clay Matthews set back another with a sack. But no defensive player contributed more than a reserve safety who might not start another game this season.
Charlie Peprah could give way to Atari Bigby as early as this week, but on Sunday he created two of what I consider the most decisive moments of the Packers' 9-0 victory. Peprah broke up a pair passes to Jets receiver Jerricho Cotchery, providing a textbook display of how a safety can play pass defense.
The first came with 4 minutes, 18 seconds remaining. On fourth down from the Packers' 45-yard line, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez fired downfield. Peprah went high with Cotchery and broke up the pass at the Packers' 12-yard line.
The Jets got the ball back less than a minute later, and from his 28-yard line, Sanchez again looked downfield for Cotchery. This time, the ball hit Cotchery in the hands and was milliseconds away from being ruled a catch before Peprah's hit dislodged it at the Packers' 45-yard line.
On this blog, at least, decisive plays call for Decisive Moments.