Green Bay Packers linebacker Za'Darius Smith wanted to make sure he sent a message to the late Breonna Taylor during the game against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night. Right before halftime, Smith was able to sack Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. And once he did that, the Kentucky alum revealed a message on his shirt which stated, "Rest In Heaven Breonna Taylor."
Taylor, 26, was killed in March after being shot by police six times. In September, a grand jury in Kentucky indicted one of the police officers involved with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. But that officer nor the other two officers who fired their guns at Taylor's apartment were charged with the killing of Taylor.
Za'Darius Smith pays tribute to Breonna Taylor after recording a sack. pic.twitter.com/ojFWqkdt7S— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 6, 2020
Along with Smith paying tribute to Taylor, he also led the Packers to a 30-16 win over the Falcons. Smith anchored the defense, recording eight tackles, for tackles for loss, three sacks and five quarterback hits. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur awarded Smith the game ball once the contest game to an end.
"(LaFleur) called the stats – I forgot the stats but it was something crazy. I'm talking about on a video game," Smith said, whose five sacks are tied for the most in the NFL through the first quarter of the season. "I didn't even know I had done that much but, you know, it's big, man, to be able to get this because he challenged me earlier this week to bring my all in this game." Smith went on to recognize the defensive backs who shut down the Falcons wide receivers.
"The guys on the back end, it's hand in hand," Smith said. "We're trying to get after the quarterback, it comes with coverage. When we're rattling the quarterback, it comes with picks. We all play as one, man, to try to be dominant in the pass game." The Packers are 4-0 on the year, making them one of six teams in the league that remain undefeated. Last year, the Packers finished with a 13-3 record and reached the NFC Championship game. Smith, who joined the Packers in 2019, made in immediate impact, posting 13.5 sacks with 17 tackles for loss. His play in 2019 led to him playing in his first Pro Bowl.