Well, we can all feel real good about ourselves and our football team for another week at least. The Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 26-21 in the divisional round, their first such win since 2011.
It wasn’t exactly the whitewashing that I predicted and that says a lot about the Cowboys. Despite their lack of playoff experience, they still played a hell of a game. There is, unfortunately for those of us who hate the Cowboys, a lot of talent there. Of course, they have a buffoon for a general manager, so maybe he can screw it all up this offseason.
At any rate, here are five more thoughts about the game.
Man, it feels good not to be talking about offseason crap for a change
Usually around this time of year, we’re bitching about the Packers defense, people are calling for Dom Capers to be fired and there are discussions about the team’s pending free agents. So, thanks Packers, for putting all of that off for another week.
Oh, about that defense
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. The Packers, once again, do not have a championship-caliber defense. You could plainly see that on Sunday. No, they didn’t get totally blown off the field. They did make plays here and there. The secondary played great. All of that being said, they couldn’t stop DeMarco Murray, who ran for 123 yards on 25 carries. And guess what? They get Marshawn Lynch next week. The 2010 Packers defense was by no means great either, but they did one thing that this year’s defense doesn’t do. They created a lot of turnovers. That masked their deficiencies in other areas. This year’s defense gets a turnover here and there, but they aren’t taking the ball away two and three times a game. Unfortunately, that’s probably exactly what they’re going to need to do next week to win. Otherwise, we’re just going to watch them get run over by Lynch and Badger great Russell Wilson. On the bright side, if the Packers somehow beat Seattle, neither of the AFC teams have a running game to speak of. So basically, the Super Bowl is being played in Seattle on Sunday.
Rodgers vs. Romo
This one was no contest. Toward the end of the season, it looked like Tony Romo would challenge Aaron Rodgers for the MVP. He did somehow finish with a higher passer rating (by one point) than Rodgers. Now, you don’t win the league MVP for your playoff performance, but on Sunday Rodgers demonstrated how wide the gap is between him and Romo. On one leg, Rodgers threw for 316 yards, three TDs and no picks. Romo was efficient (15-of-19), but only went for 191 yards, two touchdowns and no picks. Not a bad day by Romo by any stretch of the imagination. Rodgers put da team on his back doe. An MVP performance.
In the pocket
You probably noticed this, but in the first half, Rodgers moved around about as much as Drew Bledsoe used to move around in the pocket. In other words, he looked like a damn statue back there. He and the Packers weren’t able to get much going. In the second half, when the game was on the line, Rodgers clearly said fuck it. He didn’t run the ball, but he moved outside the pocket on a regular basis, extended plays and turned them into first downs. Night and day from the first half. If you want to pinpoint one thing in the game that was the difference, it was that. Rodgers’ ability or willingness or what have you to move outside the pocket despite having a torn calf. Gritty and effective. Hats off.
Stepping up their game
Despite being unimpressed with the defense as a whole, the Packers’ pass rush was impressive against Dallas. The reason for that appears to be that certain guys have decided to step the hell up. Early in the game, Julius Peppers looked like a beast. He likes to disappear for long stretches, but he was dominant for at least a quarter against Dallas. And hey, who put a quarter in Mike Neal? Maybe the Packers were just saving him for the playoffs. Neal showed up with six tackles, which tied for the team lead, and a half a sack on Sunday. The same goes for Nick Perry, who turned in four tackles and 1.5 sacks. These two guys have done next to nothing all season and they’re suddenly tearing shit up? Okay. Lastly, a shout out goes to Mike Daniels. Although he only recorded a half sack and three tackles, he was the guy we noticed in Romo’s face the most. We suspect Matt Millen would call that “motor.” Now, if this would just continue AND we could get Clay Matthews to actually show up (four tackles, no sacks), we might have something here.