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Monday Morning Aftermath: Green Bay Packers vs. Philadelphia Eagles

January 10, 2011

The Packers never trailed in the game as they clipped the Philadelphia Eagles 21-16 in the first-round of the 2010 playoffs.

Fresh Legs

James Starks hit the ground running on Sunday. On the Packers’ third play from scrimmage, Starks dashed for 27 yards. Although he would never top that run, he did average over 5 yards a carry and finished the day with 23 carries for 123 yards. Most people assumed that Starks’ lack of experience would hurt his productivity in 2010, but Starks looked fresh and explosive while setting a Packers’record for the most rushing yards in a playoff game by a rookie.

Speaking of fresh legs, does Clay Matthews ever come off the field? I can’t remember a single play from scrimmage that Matthews watched from the sidelines.

No Pro Bowl, No Problem

Cornerback Tramon Williams was snubbed from the Pro Bowl, but Sunday’s performance most likely made a lot of folks regret their votes. Williams shut down the always-dangerous DeSean Jackson, and fittingly, ended the game by intercepting an errant Michael Vick throw in the end zone. Although teammate Charles Woodson gets the accolades, Tramon Williams has been the best cornerback on this team all season long.

The Proverbial Monkey

It’s easy to forget that the 2010 season is only Aaron Rodgers’ third-year as the Packers’ starting quarterback. His only playoff experience came last season in an overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals where he displayed one of the grittiest and most amazing come-from-behind performances ever recorded by a Packers’ quarterback. Despite all of this, the pigskin pundits have labeled Rodgers as not being able to win a playoff game. He shed that stereotype on Sunday and remained humble in the process. After the game Rodgers chose to credit his team over his individual performance.

“Well in all my time being a football fan I have never seen one player win a game all by himself,” said Rodgers.

Rodgers’ numbers were not overly impressive – 18-of-27 passing for 180 yards and 3 touchdowns – but he led the Packers’ offense in converting 8-of-13 third-downs. His fumble in the opening possession of the second half proved costly as Eagles’ quarterback Michael Vick immediately cashed in the turnover for a touchdown, but Rodgers was cool and composed on the next possession as he led his team down the field for a balanced, time-consuming scoring drive.

A Complete Game

Aaron Rodgers is the clearly the leader of the Pack, but this victory was a team effort. If you look for a player who really stood out, you might have trouble finding one. Collectively, the defense looked great. James Starks was certainly a bright spot, but the offensive line opened up holes and running lanes for the rookie most of the afternoon. Last week’s hero, Erik Walden, quietly had a good game as did rookies Sam Shields, Tom Crabtree, and Bryan Bulaga. Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff deserve a lot of credit for getting their team to play at such a high-level.

Atlanta, Here We Come

The Packers now turn their attention to the NFC’s top-seeded team, the Atlanta Falcons. It will be the second meeting this year for the two teams when they square off next Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. CDT on FOX. In the first battle, the Falcons erased an epic comeback by the Packers’ offense and handed the Packers a 20-17 loss on a last-minute field goal. The Packers have a short-week of practice to prepare to avenge that earlier loss.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 10, 2011 9:16 am

    What I don’t get is why all the talk about AR and playoff wins. First, you don’t have to win in the playoffs to be good when you’re a younger player. The problem is that there are already inflated expectations for him. Watching the Packers it is clear that the offensive is overrated. This is not to say that they aren’t good, but they are not the 2009 Minnesota Vikings (as an example). There are way too many odd miscues and lots of bad effing calls. Even though Starks went for 123 yesterday on 23 carries, he should’ve had thirty touches. But largely, they’re inconsistent. Sometimes they just don’t seem like they’re on the same page.

    The issue that I see is this, AR isn’t clutch. Favre is great because Favre was clutch (it also helps that he helped a franchise that hadn’t done anything in years become a great franchise again—he was the damn poster boy for that). Even though AR has better numbers than Favre, he doesn’t have the same *magic* (or isn’t perceived as having it). So it’s not about playoff wins, it’s about how he wins playoff games! In this case, the Packers won the game but choked in the second half on offense. They got their third TD in the third quarter, but when GB needed AR to come through with ‘the dagger’—he did not. They put the ball in his hands on a couple of occasions and he biffed it, he got sacked, he didn’t hit his man. He wasn’t the AR that everyone has been priming us to expect!

    And therein lies the problem. The shoes are still too damn big for the man, he’ll never be the AR we expect. All the sports press has been wetting themselves with glee over how good the Green Bay Packers’ offense is and they haven’t proved it—they win games, but largely because of clutch performances from the defense. Of course, when they play well they play really well. They looked lights out against the Giants—but are there other teams with good or better defenses that they have pounded? Nope. Not really.

    These last two weeks the Packers have faced the Bears—who got ripped up by the Jets—and got held to 10 points, and the Eagles—who got pwned by the barely on the nice side of incompetent Minnesota Vikings—and somehow that Eagles D that Joe Webb worked over at times managed to shut down the GB offense. That wasn’t pretty.

    But you gotta feel for the man. He’s got huge shoes to fill, he’s got huge expectations to live up to, and he’s never, ever, ever going to. Not until he wins a Super Bowl. And if he doesn’t get clutch, he won’t win a Super Bowl.

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