Frigid temperatures at Lambeau Field Sunday accompanied by an even colder start by the Green Bay Packers offense had me in somewhat of frozen state of mind. That was until about the 3:45 mark in the second quarter, when MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers started the offensive explosion and scored on five of eight possessions including a 42 yard Hail Mary pass in the closing seconds of the first half.
Taking a 14-6 lead into halftime the feeling inside the stadium offered equal parts relief and disbelief. For more than a quarter and a half the defense and special teams was extraordinary and Rodgers found his groove with momentum from the hail mary, the rout was on. Here are some lessons learned from a memorable wildcard win and things to be reminded of going forward in the rematch against the Cowboys next Sunday.
Better with 18 on the Field
With Randall Cobb missing the last two games due to injury the Packers have had young players such as rookie WR Geronimo Allison step up and make plays, but as Aaron Rodgers said after the game “we are better with 18 on the field”.
Cobb made his return to the field and he was electric. With his five catches for 116 yards and three touchdowns Cobb offered a big play spark all afternoon, setting a franchise record with three receiving touchdowns in a game and tieing the NFL (Superbowl era) record as well.
With Jordy Nelson’s ribs injury, Cobb was forced to play more than originally planned after being a late addition to the 46 man active roster. Cobb was and will continue to be a focal point for Rodgers going forward regardless of what news we get later in the week regarding Nelson and his rib injury. More of the same is a high expectation from Cobb, but its playoff time in the NFL and when Cobb is well, the Packers can score often and in a hurry.
Although the defense played very well overall, there was one glaring issue all afternoon long. Demarious Randall’s struggles continued. The Giants have a very talented WR group and everyone new it was going to offer a tough test for our young CB group. It seemed, for the most part, that everyone passed the test but Randall, which has me hoping that Quinten Rollins come back from injury sooner, rather than later.
Here’s hoping that either Rollins returns or Randall figures it out before the trip to Dallas. The Cowboys have a pretty good group of receivers as well, and with the run game they possess my guess is we will need our safeties in the box for support in that area.
Randall was responsible for giving up the only Giants touchdown on a long pass play to Tavarres King, and was extremely fortunate on a number of plays that could have resulted in scores that were dropped by Giants receivers. If I am a Dallas receiver lining up across from Randall, I am salivating every play.
Sign Cook Today
Some of you may know this and some of you may not, I am not a huge fan of general manager Ted Thompson. The reason is his lack of effort in signing high quality free agents. Well folks he made one of his one in five year moves this last off season, and its proving to be one of his best.
It’s also important to point out it was a low risk high reward deal that didn’t cost much in cap space. Jared Cook needs to be re-signed TODAY, if not sooner. Although he may not splash you with ten catches, 100 yards, and touchdowns every week, he brings so much to this offense and it’s noticeable to even the casual football fan.
The Packers are 9-2 with Cook in the lineup this season, averaging 28.4 points per game. In those ten weeks, Rodgers has a 29:1 TD-to-INT ratio and a 118.3 passer rating. Compare that to the six games without Cook due to an ankle injury and the Packers were 2-4, averaging 24.7 points per game. Over that stretch, Rodgers TD-to-INT ratio falls to 15:6 with a 92.3 passer rating. Rodgers’ numbers speak for themselves when the match up nightmare for opposing defenses that is Jared Cook is on the field. Assuming Rodgers is aware of this here is what the quarterback had to say about his TE:
“Jared’s been a big part of our success, just being out there he’s a big body, he’s tough to cover. He does a good job catching the football and a good job with the ball in his hands. He’s a great locker room guy, a great leader for us and it’s been fun having him”.
With many other areas of concern and encouragement from last weeks game against the Giants such as, Jake Ryan playing like a possessed man-beast, the slow start for McCarthy and Rodgers offensively, the special teams play as good as its been in weeks, and once again the offensive line dominating in pass protection. The fact of the matter is, Green Bay travels to the #1 seeded Dallas Cowboys this Sunday.
It will without a doubt be the game of the week and is sure to be a heavyweight battle with all kinds of story lines. No matter how they do it, getting the W is this weeks objective, and puts them one step closer to the ultimate goal. At this point its Super Bowl or bust and it would be a damn shame if this seven game streak was all for not.
What did you learn from Sunday’s win over the Giants?