New York Giants 13 – 38 Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers saw off the New York Giants in a 38 to 13 point victory to punch their ticket into the divisional round of the playoffs in a game that was both an astonishing Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde performance between the first 20 minutes and the last 40 minutes, as well as one of the most beautiful displays of offensive genius.
The Giants defense early was as advertised, holding the Packers to negative 8 yards until the mid second quarter, but if the Run The Table streak has taught the world anything it’s that there is no stopping Rodgers when he’s on fire. Once the Giants defense was broken once, it stayed that way, and Rodgers put on a clinic while the defense held up its end of the bargain (courtesy of a drop-addled Giants offense) for yet another Packers playoff win to kick 2017 off the right way.

Keys To The Game

Rodgers: Ridiculous (Reprise)

I think it’s nearing the time where I should just give Rodgers’ magic a section of its own in the column each week, because it seems like every time I write this over the last 2 months Rodgers is getting his own key to the game section. But, that’s what happens when you are playing quarterback better than anyone in the history of football has ever played quarterback.

Against New York who boast what is likely the best pass defense in the playoffs with an excellent trio of corners in Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (who left injured about the same time Jordy Nelson did) and rookie Eli Apple, as well as a safety playing as well as any in football in Landon Collins, Rodgers stat line alone was excellent. 25/40 (62.5%) for 362 yards and 4 TD/0 INT. His play on the field however transcended those stats and was next-level great quarterbacking. There was an obscene amount of floating around in the pocket for 5+ seconds as if he had six pairs of eyes dodging would-be pass rushers to make big plays.

The first touchdown of the game on a pass to Davante Adams involved Rodgers circling his own pocket for 7 seconds before rolling out left and throwing a dart for the TD. There was a myriad of amazing throws to go with the pocket awareness. Disregarding the Hail Mary which I’ll talk about below, the 16 yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb early in the fourth quarter was a thing of beauty. A laser of a throw thrown across the middle as Cobb gained some separation from cornerback Eli Apple. I could give you 20 examples of Rodgers greatness from the game last night, those are just a couple that to me exemplify just how great he is playing in this stretch.

Key Moment – The Hail Rodgers

Lions, week 12, 2015. Cardinals, Divisional Round, 2015. Giants, Wild Card Round, 2016. The victims and times of Aaron Rodgers ridiculous ability to inject skill into a play that is normally 98% luck.

Heading towards the closing moments of the half, despite what was, for the most part, a poor showing by the offense to that point, the Packers found themselves up 7-6, with 6 seconds on the clock at the Giants 42 yard line the Packers called the Hail Mary. Cobb managed to get around the back of the last defender and after a ball was thrown 62 yards downfield with almost 4 seconds of hang time, the touchdown was complete, and the Packers found themselves up 14-6 going into the break. Right at that point it felt like, despite the offensive struggles until the drive that resulted in the Adams touchdown, there was no stopping this Packers offense from imposing it’s will.

Honestly, we are blessed as Packers fans to be witnessing this level of greatness. Rodgers talked after the game about how their design of the Hail Mary with a very specific arc on the ball to allow his receiver a better chance to catch it, while causing the defense to misjudge the path of the ball, is critical to making it work. That’s something that’s hard to replicate for defenses to practice against, as there are maybe a single digit number of people on Earth with Rodgers’ arm talent. It’s a wonderful thing.

Some Credit For The Defense

The defense was sneaky good against the Giants. They faced a team with the NFL’s prime drama queen Odell Beckham Jr., and two other solid receiving options in veteran Victor Cruz and rookie sensation Sterling Shepard, as well as a running game that, although primarily built on draw plays in the shotgun against soft fronts in recent weeks, has been emerging as reliable for New York.

All that, however, amounted to only 13 points on two field goals early in the first and second quarters, and a 41 yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King from Eli Manning that came by way of a miscommunication between cornerback Damarious Randall and the safety help he appeared to believe he had. The defense managed to hold Manning to under 300 yards passing and managed to ratchet up the pressure they have been somewhat lacking in recent weeks to the tune of 4 sacks.

Clay Matthews continued his newfound tradition of disappearing for long stretches of the game before making an obscenely good impact play. With 8:44 left in the fourth, Clay rounded the Giants right tackle and punched the ball from Manning’s hand as he prepared to throw, knocking it forward. It appeared as if every player on the field assumed it was an incomplete pass as it was punched 7 yards downfield, except Matthews. He rushed to the ball, where the Giants running back Paul Perkins had just picked it up, blew him up causing a second forced fumble (one the same play), and recovered the ball.

That’s right, a sack, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery on one play. Hell of a veteran play by CM3 to realise there wasn’t a whistle and go for the ball, infact he could be seen on the replay yelling at the Packers players to get it. Almost reminiscent of the Bears game a few years back where Cobb picked the ball up and walked in for a touchdown following a similar play on an Aaron Rodgers forced fumble.

If the defense can continue to do just enough, the Packers are in with a chance on this playoff business.

Ty Montgomery Player of the Week Award

With Jordy Nelson leaving injured after taking the crown of a helmet straight to his ribs (please be alright, Jordy) the offense needed the other receivers to step up in a big spot, and boy did they. This week the award goes to none other than Randall Cobb. Cobb has not had a great year, between injuries and being invisible on the field when he has played, but last night blew all that away. 5 receptions for 116 yards and 3 touchdowns, THREE TOUCHDOWNS. That’s from a player who, after the game, commented that he wasn’t sure until the afternoon whether or not the team was even going to have him on the active roster due to his lingering injuries.

Cobb, for however lacking his production was this year, really stepped up when the team needed him on the anniversary of his punctured lung in the playoffs last year. I’m as guilty as anyone of having forgotten just how much he puts himself on the line sometimes for this team. Randall, I hope this award goes some way towards you forgiving me for that sin, you’re awesome.

Totally-Not-Knee-Jerk Reactions

  1. I really do feel like this team can do it. It won’t be easy, Dallas next weekend will be a major test, but even with the decimated secondary I have a feeling of faith this year. Dallas are (as of me writing this) favored by 4 points at the bookies. I’ll take that going into their building. The Cowboys defense is nowhere near as talented as the Giants defense, so it’ll be interesting to see what the offense can, and will have to, do to counter the unstoppable juggernaut of the Cowboys offense.
  2. Jake Ryan had a sneaky good game. On the whole, give one or two plays, he looked solid in coverage. Dude has come a long way and is turning into a pretty solid player.
  3. Next week in general is going to have some amazing games. Packers – Cowboys, Seahawks – Falcons, Steelers – Chiefs, (we won’t mention the Texans game because yawn), what a great weekend of football.
  4. I hope the Jordy injury isn’t serious, hopefully just a bruise not broken ribs. His comeback this year to lead the league in touchdowns is wonderfully impressive, and both he and we deserve to get to see that continue through the playoffs.
  5. I’ve loved writing this article each week for you guys through the season. Hopefully I have three more to write after this one (divisional, championship round, superbowl), but if not I’m already putting together ideas for offseason articles. Maybe a few on what being a football fan overseas is like. If there’s something you’d like me to write about, hit me up on twitter. And as always, Go Pack Go!