Great to get that monkey off the back, huh?
The Green Bay Packers started slowly, but ended up handling the New York Giants by putting up 24 second-half points. Personally, I wasn’t feeling too confident going into the game, having witnessed the previous two Packers-Giants playoff debacles. The first 27 minutes didn’t give me any additional confidence and then Packers found the gas pedal and hammered that son of a bitch.
So long, Blue!
You were not my boy!
Anyway, let’s look at some of the intricacies I was surely too drunk to discuss yesterday.
I was throwing out praise to old man Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews — though largely for just a single play — on the defensive side of the ball on Sunday. Let’s single out linebacker Jake Ryan and cornerbacks Damarious Randall and LaDarius Gunter, though. In hindsight, Ryan — if not the defensive player of the game — was certainly the glue that held the Packers’ defense together. He had a team-high 12 tackles and defended three passes. That latter number tied the team high. Yes, I know Damarious Randall got burned for a long touchdown, but it certainly appeared that Mr. Awareness, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was supposed to provide help over the top. Instead, Clinton-Dix jumped an underneath receiver and a huge play resulted. Throw that out and Randall had a nice day for a change. He also knocked down three passes and had the Packers’ lone pick of the day. And how about my boy, LaDarius Gunter? Did you see Odell Beckham Jr. out there? I didn’t. That clown caught four balls for just 28 yards. Why was he so unproductive? Larry Gunter! Gunter was following Beckham around for most of the day. He didn’t show huge on the stat sheet, but here’s the other telling number — Beckham was targeted 11 times. Here are those numbers again: four catches, 28 yards. You know who LaDarius Gunter is starting to remind me of? Al Harris.
That aforementioned interception by Randall was essentially meaningless. It came with just 34 seconds left. We knew the Giants weren’t coming back at that point. Randall tried to score anyway, returning the ball 78 yards before going down at the Giants’ 29. And you know what? Good. It’s nice that — at least it appears — the Packers have learned their lesson. We will show you no mercy. We will get you down and we will stomp on your throat with our boot and we will keep stomping on it. That’s a nice departure from Morgan Burnett intercepting a pass and sliding down in Seattle.
You know I couldn’t let the fourth down play slide. Packers are up 14-6, have all the momentum, and their second drive of the second half stalls at their 42 with 6:42 left in the third quarter. The Packers had failed on a 3rd-and-1 handoff to fullback Aaron Ripkowski. It’s now 4th-and-1. A lot of people were angry with the decision to go for it in the first place. I wasn’t. The Giants hadn’t shown any indication they could find the end zone at that point. Stomp on their throat. What I did take issue with were the play calls. First, we knew going into the game Ripkowski wasn’t healthy and his play showed that. He was not effective. So regardless of past heroics, I didn’t like the third down call. On fourth, McCarthy handed it to Ty Montgomery on a run designed to go right through the middle of the line, behind the lead block of the ailing Ripkowski. To the surprise of maybe only the Buffoon himself, Ripkowski got blown up and Montgomery had nowhere to go. One-yard loss. The Giants were expecting run there, so a little more imaginative play call would have been nice. Maybe a naked boot or even a pass from the hottest quarterback in the game. There was sure to be a receiver in one-on-one coverage. Maybe the Packers were just setting that up for the next time they have a fourth-and-1. It should also be noted that the Packers used to a timeout prior to the fourth down play. Good thing they didn’t need that later!
Christine Michael has pretty much been an afterthought in most games since coming over from Seattle. The Packers had no choice but to turn to him after Ty Montgomery got hurt on Sunday. He responded with 10 carries for 47 yards. More importantly, he ran hard and was inspired. Having played for the Seahawks, Michael has obviously been here before. That could serve the Packers well if Montgomery misses any time.
I’m talking about the wild card round as a whole. Sure, it was great for us, pounding the New York Giants, but there wasn’t a close game in the NFL’s playoff opening weekend. The average margin of victory was 19 points, with the Packers providing the largest margin (25). I personally do not recall an NFL playoff weekend quite as uninteresting as this one. I would certainly expect the divisional round to be tighter and more entertaining. Plus, there’s more good news — this coming week will be the last time anyone has to watch the Houston Texans play football this year.