Monday, January 09, 2017

Packers Win Wild Card Round Over The Giants, 38-13

The Green Bay Packers aren't known for their slow starts but it does happen from time-to-time. They played a very sloppy first half against the Lions in Week 17. Against the Giants, they spent the first 25 minutes of game time with the offense firmly left back in the locker room. And then they lost WR Jordy Nelson to a rib injury! With about 5 minutes to go in the first half, the Packers offense had somewhere around 7 yards of total offense, for the game!

The defense was in trouble too. QB Eli Manning was accurate on his passes for their first two possessions and the Giants were moving up-and-down the field. Luckily the cold ball was a problem for them and there were multiple dropped passes (one on 3rd down and one in the end zone). The Giants only had 6 points (two field goals) to show for what should have been at least two field goals and a touchdown.

Surprisingly, it was the often absent special teams unit that gave the Packers their first boost. A big kickoff return by WR Jeff Janis after the second Giants field goal flipped the field position battle and pinned the Giants inside their 10 yard line. Then the defense had a big three-and-out, Micah Hyde had a nice punt return to the Giants 38 yard line, and QB Aaron Rodgers found WR Davante Adams in the end zone on a perfect pass just past the defender (who was all over him) and the length of Adams's arms.
The Giants had completely dominated the first 25 minutes of the game but they hadn't built a significant lead. All it took was one touchdown pass to take it away. After the Packers defense forced another punt, Rodgers happened again:
Then it was an 8 point deficit at halftime. That felt like a dagger but the Giants came out strong in the 2nd half. The Packers punted on their first 2nd half possession. Then they got stopped on 4th down on their second possession, gave the Giants great field position, and a blown coverage handed the Giants a long touchdown pass to make it 13 to 14.

And then the Packers stomped all over the Giants for the rest of the game. From the 5:16 mark in the 3rd quarter, the Packers outscored the Giants 24-0. Nothing worked for the Giants with two three-and-outs, a completely shredded New York Pass Defense, and even their special teams fell apart with a kickoff return run out of bounds at their 3 yard line. The Giants have the best defense that made the playoffs this season (only the Broncos were better during the regular season) and Rodgers completely shredded them.

It's hard to judge the players on this game. The defense was a complete wreck early in the game and they were only saved by some dropped passes, while the offense couldn't do anything (4 first half sacks and a lot of punts). And then over the last 20 minutes of the game, each unit was unstoppable. Which of them will show up in Dallas next week?

This was a great win and a little bit therapeutic for two previous home playoff losses to QB Eli Manning. It's not a game that could be taken for granted and (eventually) the Packers brought their "A game" (2nd half edition). The Cowboys have had a great season and they won't be taken for granted, but the Packers are rolling as they make their plans to head down to Dallas next week.

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