Well, I didn’t have a hell of a lot to say in the way of analysis on Sunday, primarily because I was in disbelief. The Green Bay Packers did indeed dispatch the No. 1 seed Dallas Cowboys though, didn’t they?
All week long, the Dallas contingent was whining about how they weren’t getting any respect, pointing out that they were the No. 1 seed, that the Packers didn’t deserve the hype and that they were the superior team.
Well, what do you have to say now?
Great regular season, Cowboys!
Let’s get it rolling.
He Continues to Amaze
Aaron Rodgers didn’t have his best game on Sunday, but he was amazing nonetheless. Rodgers threw his first pick since November 13 against Dallas. It was what you would call an inopportune interception, as it came following a Micah Hyde pick of Dak Prescott. The Packers were up 28-13 and had a chance to really stomp on the Cowboys’ throat had they scored on that possession. Apparently, Rodgers just wanted to save his heroics for later on. Obviously, the legacy only grew with the final throw of the game to Jared Cook. The Cowboys were able to contain Rodgers at times, but not for four quarters. He was an assassin out there on Sunday. A stone-cold, emotionless assassin. I’ll tell you the stats, but they don’t matter — 28-of-43 for 356 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. What matters is no one can stop Aaron Rodgers right now. Maybe here and there, but not for an entire game. And it doesn’t even matter who’s on the field with him. No Jordy Nelson? No problem. To put it simply, this isn’t a great football team. It’s a football team being carried by the play of a guy who simply won’t be denied.
Cook Makes A Difference
One thing that we had somewhat overlooked leading up to the game was the fact that Jared Cook didn’t play when these teams first met. To put it simply, I thought he’d catch some balls, but I didn’t consider him a potential game-changing factor. Well… wrong! With Nelson sidelined, Cook was Rodgers’ guy. He finished with six catches for 104 yards and touchdown, in what was probably the best game of his lifetime. The final catch along the sideline was masterful. That ball was actually out of bounds where Cook caught it and he managed to have the body control to drag both of his feet to keep it inbounds. Jared Cook probably earned himself a new contract on Sunday.
Defensive Playmakers? Not Today!
Last week, we had talked about getting difference-making plays from Packers’ supposed defensive playmakers. That if they gave the Packers one big play, that should be enough to win. Obviously, the guys you look to are Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Daniels and Nick Perry. Well, Perry turned in a couple of plays. He had a sack and knocked down a huge third-down throw. Those made a difference. The other three guys? I would say their performances ranged from nondescript to downright embarrassing. Daniels would fall on the former end of the spectrum with three tackles. Old man Peppers would probably fall in the middle. He had just one tackle. Matthews would most definitely fall on the latter end. He had just one tackle and didn’t sniff the quarterback as far as I recall. Plus, there was the attempted takedown of Ezekiel Elliott when Elliott spun around and left Matthews with pretty much nothing but air. That was embarrassing. We actually had a discussion on Sunday about when the Packers can get rid of Matthews. The answer is, his bloated contract has two years remaining on it, but the Packers could release him after next season and not have to eat any dead money.
Ice in His Veins
Let’s not overlook Mason Crosby. The job he has been doing for the Packers is outstanding. First, two kicks from 50-plus yards on the road in a playoff game, the latter for the win from 51 as time expired (the first was from 56). That alone is pretty amazing. Here’s something that is even more amazing. Crosby hasn’t missed a field goal in the postseason in 23 consecutive tries. The guy is automatic right now.
Brice Steps Up
The Packers lost safety Morgan Burnett in the first half. They had to turn to undrafted rookie Kentrell Brice at safety after that. I won’t say Brice had a great game. I would really have to look at the tape again to review. However, what I did notice is he brought a physical presence out there that neither Burnett or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix bring to the table. Brice was flying around and hitting people. Hard. He finished with a team-high seven tackles and also knocked down a pass. That was a big stage and Brice handled it well. The Packers look like they might have something special down the road with this guy.