Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants Review | 10 Things We Learned
If Green Bay Packers fans thought that the Kansas City Chiefs ending the team’s run at perfection in week 15 was unnerving, then they hadn’t seen anything yet. A completely flat performance against a spirited New York Giants team after a two-week layoff easily took the cake.
This wasn’t just a dominant Packers team that came up short. They were supposed to be repeat Super Bowl champions. Instead, they lost to the Giants at home in the playoffs for the second time in two tries, and wasted a season that was once ruled by hype and talk of a perfect season.
The Giants, meanwhile, continue to get comparisons to that magical 2007 squad that upset the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. And with the Patriots still alive in this year’s playoffs, it’s still possibly for a similar ending.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Even with the Packers done and the Giants preparing for a date in San Francisco with the 49ers, there is still a lot we can take away from this game. Let’s see what we learned from last night’s game:
1. Aaron Rodgers is Human
Rodgers came into this game with 45 touchdown passes and 4,643 yards in the regular season – and did so in just 15 starts. However, he came up lame in this playoff game, as he took four sacks, lost a fumble, and threw a pick. By all accounts, he was extremely average in this game, and just looked out of it for nearly 60 minutes.
2. The Packers’ Receivers Really Blew It
A studly group was responsible for eight drops in one single game, and if you ask me, it was probably closer to 10. Aaron Rodgers was far from spot-on in this one, but his surrounding talent didn’t do him any favors.
3. Eli Manning Just Might be an Elite Quarterback, After all
Way earlier in the year there was chatter about whether or not Eli Manning was a true elite quarterback. Well, after two solid playoff games that can be placed on top of his dream Super Bowl run of 2007, it’s looking more and more like he is. He absolutely shredded the Packers in this one, and if he gets to a second Super Bowl and wins, you can already start-up the debate over whether or not he’s better than Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, and even his brother – Peyton Manning. Blasphemous, I know.
4. The Turnover Battle Didn’t Make Any Sense
The Packers don’t turn the ball over. They really don’t turn the ball over. Aaron Rodgers threw 45 touchdowns in 2011, and just six interceptions. That’s insane. But in a huge playoff game, he took four sacks, lost a fumble, and threw a pick.
John Kuhn, the Packers’ fullback and glue man on offense, fumbled for the first time in his entire career. Greg Jennings and Randall Cobb also both fumbled, although both had their fumbles reversed (Jennings’ should have stood, though). Ryan Grant has the most costly fumble of the game, as the Packers were trying to get back in the game, and his fumble led to the Giants putting the icing on the cake.
5. The Giants Absolutely Dominated This Game
From start to finish, there was a vibe in this game that it was New York’s to lose. Jason Paul-Pierre guaranteed victory earlier in the week, and the rest of his team followed up with dominant play. They made a team that takes care of the ball cough it up four times, and they made an elite offense look very average when they were taking care of the ball. And that was just on defense.
Offensively, Eli Manning toyed with the Packers all day, and Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs rarely failed to get a first down when their name was called.
6. The Giants Aren’t Just a Pass-Rushing Defense
Their pass-rush is as good as advertised – if not better. They sacked Aaron Rodgers four times, forced a fumble, and hurried him a ton in the second half. But they clearly have a balanced defense at this point in the season, and it’s not just all about their front-line anymore.
Cory Webster is one of the most underrated corners in the league, while Aaron Ross isn’t half bad when he’s got his mind right, either. The two worked together to hold Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings to a combined seven catches for 79 yards. That wasn’t by accident.
7. Green Bay Needs an Upgrade at Running Back
Aaron Rodgers led the team in rushing with 66 yards on seven carries. I get that the Packers move the ball best through the air, but they became too easy to stop when their running was effective consistently, and the Giants knew what they were going to do. Whether by draft or free agency, they need an upgrade in the back-field. On top of that, they need more emphasis on the ground game. The Saints and Patriots both love throwing the ball, but even they know that you need to be able to pound the rock come playoff time.
8. Hakeem Nicks is Unstoppable
Nicks was slightly over-shadowed during the regular season due to Victor Cruz bursting onto the scene with over 1,500+ receiving yards. But when it mattered most, Nicks was the guy Eli Manning went to, and the Pack had no answer for him. Nicks finished the game with seven catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns, including the hail mary score right before half-time that arguably was the turning point in the game.
9. Jermichael Finley is Over-Rated
We knew Finley was overrated before the season ended. Hell, most of us knew it last year when he was supposed to emerge as a stud and then ended up being a dud via injury. There was promise for this season, but he still posted pretty average numbers when you consider his size, his quarterback, offense, and athleticism. But the numbers aren’t the problem. It’s the drops. He had a crap load over the course of the season, and had (from my count) three in the game against the Giants. The Packers dropped 8 passes in the game as a team, and he was responsible for nearly 50% of them.
When you’re that big and athletic and deemed as one of the best tight ends in the league, you’re supposed to make the big plays. Especially when the season is on the line.
10. Tom Coughlin is a Better Coach Than Mike McCarthy
I’m sorry, but for all the late-season slides Coughling allows in New York, he’s still pretty tough in the playoffs. Take away Mike McCarthy’s playoff run last season, and he’s actually pretty under-whelming under the bright lights. Perhaps they’re still at the same level if you argue to the death, but not when you pit the two against each other.
In two playoff contests in Lambeau Field, the Giants have arguably dominated the Packers, and have stolen both games. If that doesn’t tell you Coughlin is the better coach, I’m not sure what does.